N.J. charts GIS partnerships

New Jersey Office of Information Technology

New Jersey officials are hoping that a new partnering program between the

state and its local governments will save participants time and money in

putting together a statewide GIS-based mapping system.

The state government will give geographic information systems training,

hardware and software to each county that participates in the program, and

it will also develop Web applications and provide technical support. In

return, counties will develop and maintain local data that can be used in

the New Jersey Geographic Information Network.

"No single state, federal or local government has the resources to build

a spatial data system that everyone would want to use," said Hank Garie,

director of GIS in New Jersey's Office of Information Technology. "That's

what makes sharing so attractive, the chance to build a single system that

will be used by multiple activities."

Each partner in the New Jersey Mapping Assistance Partnership Program

(NJMAPP) essentially becomes a node in the network using Environmental Systems

Research Institute Inc.'s ArcIMS software. Each participant can grab whatever

data it feels is valuable for its mapping purposes from any of those nodes.

The maps are as up to date as is possible because NJMapp partners are

sharing dynamic data sets rather than using historical data obtained by

download over the Internet or sent via regular mail.

This distributed GIS data system will help organizations cut across

the stovepipes that now exist in government, Garie said. But it also will

provide a much greater return on investment, particularly for the state,

which can use its resources more effectively to "seed" local government

activities.

"If we put a $50,000 investment into a county government, for example,

we could expect that government to spend perhaps $300,000 on a mapping activity,

and that obviously gets us a much better product than if we tried to spend

the money ourselves to do that," Garie said.

The OIT is conducting a pilot study of NJMapp with four of the state's

21 counties, but Garie expects to make a formal partnership offer to all

the counties during the next three years.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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