GIS : Geographic Information Systems
Updated: 12/16/2004; 8:05:07 AM.


Geographic Information Systems


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Raylene Ireland has announced that Utah will be the first State in the nation to provide both unemployment insurance and child support payments via an electronic payment card.  The card is supported through a contract with Affiliated Computer Services.

4-H clubs in Utah now offer GIS programs.  The programs are supported with grants from ESRI.  The also receive support from Utah State University and Utah's Automated Geographic Reference Center.  I was a member of a 4-H entomology program growing up, but they didn't offer anything like this.  Sounds like a great addition.

8:04:52 AM    comment []

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Grand Canyon webcam is one of many great webcams operated by the Dept. of the Interior.  The site also offers a nice summary of current conditions in one of my favorite national parks.

The Southwest Alliance is a group of people in the area surrounding Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah that have joined together to influence state and local government decisions.  UTOPIA has begun construction of their fiber network in Orem.  Service is supposed to be available in the first half of 2005.  Orem is one of a number of Utah cities who use Petfinder to list animals at their animal shelter.  It looks like a great way to add another egov service to a cities website since Petfinder offers their service free which allows users to search for pets by zipcode (proximity).  The Mountainland Association of Governments has a trailfinder GIS application that maps out the growing number of trails in the area.

Virginia has always been pretty good at egov and the cities in the Hampton Roads area seem to be among the leaders.  They are implementing a variety of new cost-saving, service-enhancing initiatives.

Here is California's Strategic IT Plan which was released this month by CIO Clark Kelso.  The CIO will appoint a Director of e-Services that will focus on the implementation of five key projects that will be selected in specific areas by March of 2005.  The e-Services Director will support business-driven initiatives similar to what we did here with the Deputy CIO over eGovernment.  By March 2005, the CIO will create a cross-agency workgroup similar to Utah's eGovernment Product Management Council and will appoint a Geospatial Information Officer (GIO).  I think that we already have that in Dennis Goreham, the manager of Utah's Automated Geographic Reference Center.  By the way, speakers at the GIS Expo scheduled for December 9th in Salt Lake City will include experts from AGRC.  You can register online with ESRI.

The Dept. of Interior operates a couple of portal sites that I was previously unaware of; the National Business Center, which is involved in a variety of egov initiatives and the PMB web portal.

7:59:38 AM    comment []

The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (formerly NIMA) produces a periodical called Pathfinder.  The latest issue has an article on geoint.  Geospatial intelligence has involved significantly since the days when I was developing and implementing applications for the Microfix in the eighties, but it's still very powerful.

The Heritage Foundation is producing some interesting stuff on Homeland Security-related technologies.

10:43:17 AM    comment []

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Illinois Atlas is an excellent resource for maps of that state.  The maps each portray an important story and are very consistent and high quality in their presentation.  Categories are very clear and understandable.  This resource appears to be heavily supported by Northern Illinois University's Center for Government Studies, an excellent example of cooperation  between higher education and government.

The state of New Hampshire has made some significant improvements to their portal since I last looked.  They have added new services, changed the look to something more 21st century, made it more dynamic.  At the same time, if you look at the arc, it is clearly not very smooth, the state seal graphic is quite unclear, the menu system is somewhat slow in responding.  In spite of those issues it is a major step forward from where they were previously.

6:55:57 AM    comment []

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Tuesday, Gov. Olene Walker and representatives from several state and federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) providing a mechanism to cooperatively create and share impartial and credible digital spatial data.

"This next-generation technology allows us to literally see our state with a new perspective and make decisions based on a different perception," Walker said. "From economic development to land use decisions, geographic information systems (GIS) technology will benefit Utah in a variety of ways, enabling us to work smarter as a state."

Digital spatial data, the information that forms the foundation of GIS technology, contains the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features and boundaries on the earth. This data allows governmental and private sector entities to build maps and other resources for use in decision making, analysis of current issues and democratic governance.

Signers of the MOU recognized that federal, state and local agencies and organizations need and use similar geographic data. This agreement will help decrease the duplicated development of the same data and will generate standardized data.

The governor made reference to one use of GIS technology when she spoke of the 2000 tornado that hit downtown Salt Lake City. Following the unexpected event, the technology was used to produce photos of the affected areas, enabling responding agencies and other organizations to more effectively visualize the damage and form response plans.

"This MOU is just another example of the good that comes when agencies work together," Walker said. "I am confident todayís agreement will help move this technology forward, making it an even greater benefit to our communities."

Other agencies listed on the MOU and providing signatories are as follows:

  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • National Geodetic Survey
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • Utah State University Extension
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Utah Association of Conservation Districts
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security

8:11:26 AM    comment []

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The U.S. Airforce is now requiring that all office supply purchases be made through online vendors.

Dickenson County, Virginia is creating an electronic village.  The village will also provide space for citizen forums and businesses who want more online exposure.

Baltimore offers a couple of very nice, GIS-supported websites that help citizens identify what the city is doing in capital improvements, fighting crime, and art and culture.

6:53:37 AM    comment []

Monday, December 08, 2003

According to the PSI Group, "If there is a single Web-enabled function that defines the leading edge of egovernment implementation, it is the presence of online GIS applications."  The effective use of GIS is key to being able to provide location-based services.  In a recent meeting of our wireless citizen portal team, we discussed location-based services as one of the key components for a wireless portal.  In the future, the wireless government portal will recognize the location of the user and respond with relevant services and information.  This will include voice, data, video, etc. depending on the needs and requirements of the user.  PSI's recently published whitepaper gives many examples of how GIS is being used creatively by local government.

I recently wrote about Provo City's online parking ticket appeals service.  Charles Kaylor of the PSI Group responds:

My organization, the Public Sphere Information Group maintains the Municipality eGovernment Assessment Project (, which tracks 75 some odd performance dimensions that relate for the most part to specific online services and features (some odder than others as it turns out).  One of them is contesting parking tickets.

So here's some data from our second wave of observations of all cities over 100K (conducted in 2001 -- Wave 3 will be released soon, I'll keep you posted):

-- 3 other cities with interactive parking ticket referees:  Charlotte, NC; Cambridge, MA and Stamford, CT
-- 9 cities make a "contest your ticket" form available for download (Berkeley, CA; Des Moines,IA; Escondido, CA; Modesto, CA; New York, NY; Raleigh, NC; Riverside, CA; San Jose, CA; and Winston-Salem, NC)
-- Another 25 provide contact information or some other information about parking ticket contestation.

That's a total of 37 cities out of 239 offering this feature (a distinct minority to be sure -- 15.4%)

I really only consider the first to be a real e-government online service and unique from providing a form or information.  That could just as easily be provided, and often is, when the ticket is received.
7:33:38 AM    comment []

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Provo City has a new online service that I haven't seen elsewhere.  You can contend a parking ticket online.  I would like to see the breakdown of how many online appeals are upheld.  As mentioned elsewhere,  iProvo is moving ahead.

We need to offer some assistance to Juab County on their website.  Take a look, for example, at the page for the Juab County Attorney.  These ovals are pretty ugly.  And someone needs to tell Emery County that it's no longer 2002.  However, their link to "2002 meetings" actually takes you to a 2003 meeting schedule.  eGovernment is not a one time event.  You can't put up a website and forget about it.  Other small counties like Tooele and Kane have developed very nice websites although they don't have much in the way of online services.

Weber County's GeoGizmo application is an incredibly robust GIS application that tells you everything about a given piece of property, including tax history for the past ten years.  It even gives you a specific breakout of what your property taxes paid for.  For example, after clicking on a particular property, I received this breakout of what their $570 in property tax paid for:

Taxing Entity Name Tax Rate Amount
  GENERAL FUND   0.00188   $66.55
  G O BOND FUND   0.000406   $14.37
  LIBRARY   0.000562   $19.89
  OGDEN CITY SCHOOL DISTR   0.007284   $257.85
  MOSQUITO ABATEMENT DISTR   0.000111   $3.93
  WEBER BASIN WATER - GENERAL   0.000196   $6.94
  WEBER BASIN WATER - OGDEN   0.000282   $9.98
  CENTRAL WEBER SEWER DISTR   0.000574   $20.32
  OGDEN CITY   0.004061   $143.76
  WEBER / MORGAN HEALTH   0.000187   $6.62
  PARAMEDIC FUND   0.000234   $8.28
  STATE ASSESS & COLLECT / MULTI   0.000181   $6.41
  ASSESS & COLLECT / COUNTY   0.000159   $5.63
  Totals   0.016117   $570.54

8:57:44 AM    comment []

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt used some themes discussed with the Western Information Technology Council in August in his first speech at the EPA.  I just noticed that complete notes from the three day WITC meetings are online, including for the Governor Leavitt's presentation with Jim Souby.  There is some very good information here on topics like e-authentication, enterprise architecture, and of course egovernment.

Administrator Leavitt is rolling out a 500-day plan with a 5000 day horizon - a lot like his 1,000 day plan in Utah that had a 10,000 day horizon.  "More. Better. Faster. Newer. Thatís the tune you will hear from me."  That's what we're hearing from Gov. Walker in Utah as well.  Since she moved offices, the pace has been frenetic.

The December meeting of the Utah Product Management Council was this morning.  AGRC presented a new GIS-related service that will allow users to make a SOAP-based request to the SGID and will return a map with specific information.  UII presented an overview of their development of a web-services based payment gateway that will allow all state agencies to quickly implement any kind of new payment-based online transaction service.  XML will be returned to the agency once the transaction has been processed through the payment gateway that will facilitate agency-level reconciliation.  This has been an excellent year for e-government in Utah with the introduction of a new state portal and business portal, winning Best-of-the-Web, the One-Stop Business Registration, proliferation of RSS feeds and news services, and the rollout of UWIN and Utah Cares.  The Council is now charged with matching and bettering that in 2004.

An article on Utah Cares appeared in Federal Computer Week.

Productivity growth as announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the third quarter is amazing.  9.4 annual growth for the nonfarm business sector is phenomenal.  That should result in more business expansion.  We need to see that same kind of increased productivity in government.

4:20:05 PM    comment []

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Map of California FiresI woke up yesterday morning to the smell of smoke in the air and left home wondering where the fire was.  USDA has posted some excellent maps of current fire activity, most of which, obviously, is in California.  The fire I smelled was the 1500 acre "Cherry Creek" fire east of Springville, probably 25 miles away.  The Large Incident fire map developed by the Remote Sensing Applications Center gives a quick overview of fires throughout the country.  Check out this MODIS map for detail of what is happening in California.  What is wrong at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection?  The state is burning and there is no news about what is happening.  Fire data only extends through September.  This graphic from the LA Times tells a lot.  Interesting that all the data sources are federal.

RS2004 a remote sensing applications conference will be held in Salt Lake City on April 5-9, 2004.  Abstracts are due on January 12, 2004.

By the way, the filibuster is over.  Expect Governor Leavitt to be confirmed by the Senate this morning at 8:30 am Mountain time.  He already is putting plans in place and has some creative ideas that he will introduce to the agency.

7:07:10 AM    comment []

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Kory Holdaway, chair of the Public Utilities and Technology committee of the Utah legislature wants a statewide GIS zoning layer (he's also the chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission for Taylorsville City - here's their zoning map).  It makes sense, especially if we want to day any kind of statewide or regional planning.  We also need a layer that identifies key regional facilities and infrastructure such as mass transit.  Currently, this data is not part of the 180 data layers in the State Geographic Information Database supported by AGRC.  This may sound like a lot, but I think that it barely scratches the surface of the potential uses for GIS in the state.  Maybe GISAC needs to add zoning to their priority data layers.  AGRC supports websites for the following organizations:

In his Masters Thesis, A Spatio-Temporal Data Model for Zoning delivered in 2001, Phillip Uhl presents a case for maintaining spatial data for historical purposes in addition to providing a tool for future planning efforts.  Here's another important role for State Archives if they are able to step up and fill it - in cooperation with AGRC.

Jackson County, Oregon, (Medford) is an area that really seems to understand GIS and its potential within government.  Check out their site at

The Southwest Users Group, a consortium of GIS professionals meets on Oct. 25-27 in Jackson Hole.

7:43:33 AM    comment []

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Infodata has released a new product aimed at government markets.  Called Content Assembly and Publishing Solution for the Government and Intelligence Communities, the product integrates with content management tools to collaborate in the production of PDF documents.

In the latest newsletter from the Office of Intergovernmental Solutions, Martha Dorris asks, "Can governments afford not to collaborate?"  There is also an article on the National Integrated Land System (NILS) which is "the first step toward an E-government solution for a common, parcel-based Geographic Information System (GIS) that shares land record information among federal, state, and local governments, as well as with the private sector."   Geocommunicator provides a portal for many of these services.

12:55:31 PM    comment []

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

The GeoSpatial One Stop launched yesterday under the URL  Take a look at the national map.  Selected feature sets change automatically as you drill down to more detail.

We have had a similar site up for several years called is a dynamic, interactive map service.  Quite a few new maps have been added to this resource, including the SGID interactive map.

Rob Salzman mentions the Oregon Coastal Atlas, a product produced by the Oregon Coastal Management Program.

7:35:36 AM    comment []

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The USGS has developed a very robust, interactive map utility for identifying features from its oil and gas assessments.  One which would be of current interest is the assessment data for the Book Cliffs region of Utah which is in the Uinta-Piceance Basin.  BLM has approved oil and gas surveys in the Book Cliffs which are being performed by Veritas, but is being challenged by environmental groups.

12:47:23 PM    comment []

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

CIO Magazine takes a look at the E-Government Act of 2002.

FEMA establishes an interagency geospatial team.

Yesterday was the official live date for Utah's new SAP-based payroll system.

The GAO released a report today on best practices in the area of IT training and posted a report on the efforts of the financial sector to address cyber threats.  GAO's analysis of DoD's efforts to implement an enterprise IT architecture is also of interest.

Slate criticizes the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace

Red Herring closes its doors.

The board which drafted the national cybersecurity strategy and the position of White House special adviser on cybersecurity (formerly Richard Clarke) were officially dissolved yesterday.

Intel releases its "Most Unwired Cities" ranking based on cities and regions with the greatest wireless Internet accessibility.  Most of the top 10 are in the West, but Salt Lake City only comes in at 40th.  We're working on that.


12:56:15 PM    comment []

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

An article in GovExec, Mapping a More Secure Future, emphasizes the importance of GIS in support of homeland security efforts.  It is certainly a valuable tool in the area of incident management and eTeam has made a good start towards integrating GIS into homeland security.  Here's a few ideas about how GIS can be used to address specific homeland security issues

  • Risk Assessment
    • Identify and evaluate potential hazards, risks, and probabilities.
      • This may relate to infrastructure protection by graphically identifying potential targets and vulnerabilities in ways that facilitate planning and preparedness.
    • Determine mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery needs.
  • Mitigation of Risk and Vulnerability
    • Mitigate risk by planning and deploying resources in ways that reduce the risk.  GIS helps you recognize vulnerabilities and preposition relevant resources
  • Preparedness
    • Compile federal/state resource inventories.
      • A GIS enabled database is used in eTeam to quickly respond to emergencies with necessary resources
    • Install early warning and detection systems - Biosensor and detection systems 
    • Perform training and mobilization exercises.
    • Predetermine emergency response forces.
    • Stockpile vital food and medical supplies.
  • Response
    • Support of search and rescue, emergency shelter, medical care, mass feeding.
    • Maps that identify affected areas to prevent further injury, looting, or other problems.
    • Damage Assessment.
  • Recovery
    • Following two separate tornato incidents, AGRC mapped the path and damage to provide visual information to FEMA and insurance companies

Utah State University is working on a number of key technologies such as sensor networks and antiviral research for homeland security.  Here's a summary of some of their research and activities.

Marginally related: An interesting presentation by NASA discussing  the use of nano-scale inputs for the remote detection of complex geobiological systems.

1:55:29 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2004 David Fletcher.

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