Service hosts municipal maps
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jul 02, 2001
A company that makes 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 system (GIS) data and mapping files directly
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 the "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 the time and money
they would have spent to print maps for constituents.
For the past year, Marietta posted a few maps on its GIS Department's
Web site (www.city.marietta.ga.us/gis) 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.
City officials 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 try it.
He said MapCiti is convenient and flexible when making modifications
to maps, so maps can 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, municipal officials
won't have to worry about cost overruns or maintenance issues and will have
instant upgrades and features, he said. The service is also scalable.
In addition to Marietta, Syncline has four customers, with another 30 customers
signed up on a trial basis.