GIS earns spot on the government map

State and county agencies are increasingly turning to geographic information

systems (GIS) to help people interact with government and get the most out

of public services.

Jill Gorski, a program manager and consultant with Environmental Systems

Research Institute Inc. (ESRI), an international company that specializes

in GIS software and services, said mapping is really beginning to take off

with government agencies, especially as GIS technologies improve and products

are developed for use via the Internet.

"Most of them are just now beginning to get really interested in their

Web sites and trying to make them more interesting, more interactive and

more useful to citizens," she said. "GIS mapping is a great way to do that."

Here are just some of the innovative GIS applications agencies recently

unveiled:

* Sarasota, Fla., uses a collaborative intranet application integrated

with a GIS database to help building inspectors show geographically related

incidents — such as noncompliance — on a city map.

* The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control,

Division of Biostatistics, is using spatial GIS solutions to manage and

aggregate vital health records while preserving their confidentiality. Among

the system's possibilities: End users can ask for the number of births to

27-year-old mothers in 1966 and get the answer in a customized, color-coded

map.

* The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection worked with

ESRI to develop the Penn-sylvania Facilities Analysis System, a Web application

that integrates permit information with various statewide data layers on

a single map that the user controls.

* The Los Angeles Zone Map Automation system, a Web-based GIS-enabled

data access and display application, enables users to find a property and

view the applicable zoning information on a map. Users can search by property

address, nearest intersection, legal description, community map and map

sheet.

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