Service hosts municipal maps
- By Dibya Sarkar
- May 25, 2001
A maker of interactive maps has begun offering a hosted service in which
cities, towns and government agencies can share municipal maps with the
public via the Internet.
MapCiti, a browser-based service created by Syncline Inc., enables governments
to upload geographic information systems (GIS) data and mapping files straight
to the company's servers, said Matt Gentile, president of Syncline.
Marietta, Ga., is one of the first cities to use the subscription service,
which does not require any software downloads or extra hardware, Gentile
said. He noted that a "vast majority" of municipalities are digitizing their
maps, and once they have done so, uploading data is relatively easy.
"What we're seeing is the beginning of a trend in this industry and
in this market," he said. "Marietta is the first to recognize doing business
this way. Web-based GIS was really something you couldn't do five years
ago because the technology was not there to support it."
Users can manipulate map data, including information related to planning
and zoning, utilities, the census and public safety, and they can even provide
feedback to the governments. Gentile said that using the service saves people
trips to City Hall and saves governments time and money from having to print
maps for constituents.
For the past year, Marietta posted a few maps on its GIS Department
using a customized software program, said Bruce Bishop, Marietta's GIS manager.
But the program proved inflexible, and changes to posted maps essentially
had to be outsourced.
The city began developing an in-house computerized mapping application,
but realized it would take several months to get it right. In the meantime,
Bishop saw a flier for MapCiti and decided to use the service.
He said MapCiti is convenient and flexible when making modifications
to maps, so maps could be more up-to-date. So far, Marietta has one general
map on the site but plans to post 15 more by the summer. Bishop said he
would weigh the cost-effectiveness and his staff's proficiency before deciding
to continue with Syncline or do it in-house.
Gentile said many municipalities find that it's just too expensive and
complicated to create, maintain and update such a mapping application. By
paying a monthly subscription to a Web hosting company, he said municipalities
wouldn't have to worry about cost overruns or maintenance issues and would
have instant upgrades and features. The service is also scalable.
In addition to Marietta, Syncline has four other customers and 30 trial