Experts give geography lesson

In the future all government information will incorporate geographic information

systems, industry experts said during a roundtable discussion at FOSE 2000

in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

The advancement of technology has enabled GIS technology to be incorporated

in a variety of commercial application products and in turn allowed for

more agencies to use GIS information without implementing advanced GIS infrastructures,

said Jack Dangermond, president of Environmental Systems Research Institute

Inc.

"This has allowed people to plan, design and better maintain their built-in

environment," Dangermond said. "GIS cuts across all lines. Everyone is interested

in the same geography."

GIS enables people to work more efficiently and can save agencies money,

according to industry experts. By routing shipments and vehicles to avoid

traffic, agencies could save more than 18 percent in transportation costs,

Dangermond said.

The city of Fairfax, Va., is using GIS technology to combine tax assessment

information, land records, addresses, permits and zoning into an easily

understood format. Customers and residents can view 3-D maps for matters

ranging from trash collection routes to fire and rescue station locations.

If GIS is going to continue to be widely used among government agencies,

several changes will need to take place, experts said. The changes include:

* Standardizing data sets so that maps will contain the same symbols

and so information will be stored in the same format. Standardization will

allow maps and information from various sources to be combined.

* Having a network of providers working together to share information

and in turn produce more accurate data.

* Using a unified framework — such as the Internet — to disseminate

information.

* Providing leadership and organization to combine technology and supervise

standards.

* Developing new technology that will allow GIS technology to be easily

incorporated into commercial applications and easily understood and utilized

by those not familiar with GIS technology.

"We need to make it so GIS is understood by not only those who are experts

at analyzing GIS data, but by everyone," Dangermond said.

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