County targets enterprisewide GIS

Will County, one of the fastest-growing counties in Illinois, will use geographic

information systems to build a virtual network of geographical data users

and producers that will not only include the government's departments and

agencies but, eventually, all of the county's towns and municipalities.

SD.I, a Chicago-based IT consulting firm, is conducting a needs assessment

that could be delivered to the county's executive council by July. It also

will develop an implementation plan that will lay out a three- to five-year

program for deploying the system.

"We've had a base map of the county prepared for a long time, and our

departments have been chomping at the bit to use [countywide GIS]," said

Bruce Freifeld, executive special assistant to the executive council. "But

we need to get data into the system, and there's been no overall architectural

plan about how to develop it to meet those needs."

The county also will develop a cost and data-sharing program between

all of the system's users.

The enterprisewide GIS likely will be a distributed system rather than

one organized around a central database, said Doug Roberts, the SD.I project

manager, because government departments and other organizations have indicated

they would like to keep their own GIS databases. Power uses would be linked

to the system directly through desktop computers, he said, and "light" userswill

access it via the Web.

A menu of user privileges will decide who has the ability to write to

and manipulate the GIS data layers.

GIS has become "such a dominant player" that Freifeld believes it could

eventually consume other information technology and management information

systems functions and become the major driver for technology development

in the county.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

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

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