A local role

Although I-Plans are currently being coordinated at the state level, those involved say that counties, cities and tribal governments have a critical role to play in the success of the overall I-Team Initiative.

"A lot of the true framework themes — like transportation, cadastral and hydrography — are primarily local data," said Dennis Goreham, manager of Utah's Automated Geographic Reference Center. "So they have got to be involved, not only in the data creation side but in the planning side as well."

The I-Team Initiative holds tremendous benefits for local governments. Once the coordination of resources gets under way, officials will know what data other entities are collecting and will be able to target their own resources more effectively and begin identifying other layers that might be needed to provide constituent services.

For local governments that haven't become actively involved in geographic information systems, Jeff Arnold, deputy legislative director for the National Association of Counties, noted that "participation in an I-Team process will help bring them up to speed on newer technologies and other aspects without having to spend the training dollars to make that happen."

Local governments are well-advised to seek out participation in an I-Team project. "If nothing else, GIS specialists at the local level need to offer themselves up as an educational resource," Arnold said. "They need to make sure that the data is developed at a granularity level that is fine enough so that it is really usable by the counties and other local governments."

Hayes is a freelance writer based in Stuarts Draft, Va. She can be reached at hbhayes@cfw.com.

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