State meets demand for map data
- By Brian Robinson
- Jan 22, 2002
Overwhelmed by demands from the public that require manual searches for
information, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES)
has turned to the World Wide Web to provide spatial and map-based data.
The department's OneStop Web Geographic Information System application
pulls information from databases throughout state government and combines
them into multi-layered maps and text presentations, depending on the complexity
of a user's inquiry.
The principal tool used to develop the Web site was ESRI's ArcIMS, a
software that allows users to integrate local data sources with Internet
data sources in a user-friendly way.
"One of the biggest challenges was trying to decide at what level to
present the information," said Chris Simmers, OneStop program manager for
the DES. "The use of GIS in-house with GIS-savvy people is one thing, but
bringing that to the Web, to make it functional and attractive to the average
user, required a major change in philosophy on our part."
GIS developers in DES worked on the application for about a year before
it was deemed ready for the public, Simmers said.
The Web site already has proven valuable for government users, he added,
even though the original driver for the site was public demand for the data.
However, as teams were pulled together from different programs across the
government, it became clear what the potential use would be to the government.
The Web site is one of the first stops for government users who want to
find out what other agencies in government have an interest in a particular
issue, such as contaminated sites.
The OneStop site was launched Dec. 21, but time will be taken to gauge
early reactions and to see what problems might crop up before its existence
is broadly publicized, Simmers said.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.