Point of Beginning

Supporting Local Government Initiatives

November 20, 2000
Innovative uses of GPS and GIS technology win grant awards.

Winners received ESRI and a Leica software, and a Leica GS50 reciever.
In June and September, Leica Geosystems, Norcross, Ga., and ESRI, Redlands, Calif., awarded grants to ten local and regional government organizations to support innovative use of GPS and GIS technology. The two companies provided software and hardware with a value of $18,900 to each of the groups selected. The goal of the program was to foster innovative approaches to solving government problems by harnessing the combined technologies of geographic information systems and precise satellite positioning. A major focus was on projects that demonstrated increased efficiencies in collecting data for decision support or increased productivity in delivering government services to the public.

The government agencies selected demonstrated a thorough understanding of GPS and GIS technologies and committed to provide matching funds and ongoing management support, budgets, staffing and complementary systems. Special priority was given to collaborative projects involving multiple departments, agencies or jurisdictions.

The ten selected groups received a complete suite of ESRI’s ArcView GIS software, a Leica GS50 GPS/GIS receiver, Leica GIS DataPRO office software, complete documentation and on-site training.

The selected projects represent a fascinating cross section of the GPS and GIS industry and provide compelling testimony to the broad range of potential applications for these technologies in local and regional governments. Altogether, the ten local and regional governments serve a population of over 10 million Americans.

And, the ten project winners are:

Government Entity: Multomah County, Oregon Demonstration Project:Transportation Infrastructure Jurisdiction Population: 636,000

Multnomah County is home to seven cities, including Portland, and includes the Metro Regional Government, the Mount Hood National Forest and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The GIS/GPS demonstration project will have multiple goals. Transportation engineering will use the GIS/GPS systems to conduct and update an inventory of streetlights throughout the region, to improve lighting, repair and bulb replacement. The Land Use Planning Division will collect data on buildings, preservation sites and roadways to regulate and preserve critical viewsheds in the scenic areas. The Road Maintenance Office will collect and analyze data on the roadway infrastructure to support the Integrated Road Information System (IRIS), which is used for maintenance, planning and costs.

Government Entity: Greater Richmond Transit Company, Virginia Demonstration Project:Inventory of Bus Stops, Shelters and Benches Jurisdiction Population: 704,000

The Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) provides accessible, fixed-route bus service and complementary paratransit service for the Richmond metropolitan region, with a service area covering some 425 square miles. The project will use GIS and GPS technology to collect data on over 2,500 bus stops, shelters and benches. GRTC will geocode each stationary object, develop a database of attributes specific to each geographic location and provide the database to multiple departments for analysis. The data will be used to create maps of routes or sections of GRTC’s service area, presenting detailed information about specific locations.

Government Entity: Miami Conservancy District, Ohio Demonstration Project:Groundwater Preservation Program Jurisdiction Population: 500,000

The Miami Conservancy District (MCD) provides flood protection, groundwater data and river corridor improvements for the Miami Valley region in southwest Ohio. The MCD will use GIS/GPS technology to enhance collection and analysis of data collected from its ground water elevation, precipitation, river stage and groundwater geochemistry monitoring network. This will allow MCD to provide an accurate assessment of the Great Miami aquifer system and aid in efforts to manage the resource into the future. Specifically, MCD plans to geolocate all monitoring wells, river gauges and precipitation gauges in the area, and incorporate existing groundwater and hydrologic data into a GIS. This data will be used to analyze the impacts of regional droughts, trends in groundwater quality and the impacts of increased ground water withdrawals for drinking water.

Government Entity: Larimer County, Colorado Demonstration Project:Wildfire Risk Alleviation and Prevention Update Project Jurisdiction Population: 245,000

The Larimer County demonstration project encompasses approximately 16 square miles in the foothills west of Loveland, Colo. The area is the site of the 10,000-acre Bobcat Gulch wildfire of June 2000, in which emergency crews were hampered by the unavailability of current maps and property ownership information. The rapid growth of new mountain subdivisions has resulted in miles of unmapped private roads. The demonstration project will be used to fill in these gaps, providing critical data for use in suppressing and, when necessary, fighting wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. This will be accomplished through the use of GIS/GPS technology and aerial photography, to collect, analyze and display the appropriate data in fire-prone mountain subdivisions, starting with the Bobcat Gulch fire site. The project will also identify other areas of potential fire hazard and ensure that road and property data are complete, accurate, current and effectively attributed.

Government Entity: Transportation and Land Management Agency, County of Riverside, California Demonstration Project:GIS/GPS Assessment/Voting Application Jurisdiction Population: 1.4 million

The demonstration project encompasses 70 County Service Areas from Indio to the western county border. The county developed an award-winning GIS database to comply with the “Right to Vote on Taxes Initiative” (Proposition 218) in 1997. The Leica/ESRI demonstration project will be used to create and manage a services inventory database that will augment and expand the existing GIS. Specifically, it will be used to collect and display data on landscape maintenance areas, streetlights and street sweeping routes. The project will provide an efficient means of determining the affected property owners, establishing costs for each assessed property. This will permit the county to assess property owners who benefit from specific services, such as street lights, street sweeping and landscaping, and exclude those who derive no benefit from them.

Government Entity: Association of Central Oklahoma Governments Demonstration Project:Regional Travel Time and Delay Study Jurisdiction Population: 900,000

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) is a voluntary association of city, town and county governments, including Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan Counties. ACOG is the designated metropolitan planning organization for the Oklahoma City urban area. The primary goal of the demonstration project will be to collect and analyze data on travel times and delays in 12 key congestion corridors. The GPS/GIS equipment will be used to collect travel time data for each of the corridors during morning and evening peak hour periods and off-peak times. Heavily congested corridors will be investigated more thoroughly with additional data collection on problem segments. The results would be incorporated into the Oklahoma City Area Regional Transportation Study (OCARTS) Congestion Management System (CMS) to provide improved transportation demand modeling.

Government Entity: Cobb County, Georgia Demonstration Project:A View of Cobb County Streams Jurisdiction Population: 525,000

Cobb County serves a mostly suburban area of about 340 square miles just outside the city of Atlanta. The demonstration project will standardize the large amount of water quality data compiled by a variety of sources and in different formats into a single spatially enabled database of the county’s streams and waterways. This will involve accurately documenting the location of the 135 existing monitoring stations and 49 new chemical monitoring sites and creating a GIS application to facilitate access, analysis and visualization of the water quality data within the county. The water quality database and GIS application will be distributed to other government agencies and educational institutions.

Government Entity: City of Kalamazoo, Michigan Demonstration Project:Traffic Sign Field Inventory Collection Jurisdiction Population: 80,000

The City of Kalamazoo is approximately 26 square miles in size and contains some 24,000 land parcels. The city government will use the Leica real-time submeter GPS to locate the position and collect attributes for 17,000 existing traffic signs. Attributes such as sign type, date of installation and existing condition will be gathered during the field survey. The city’s Engineering Division will use ArcView GIS with their newly purchased CarteGraph (Dubuque, Iowa) Sign View software to manage and inventory the sign assets for budget and maintenance purposes. This will permit the traffic engineer and staff to identify sign locations prone to vandalism or accidents, and plan an efficient sign replacement schedule and routes.

Government Entity: Planning & Development District III, South Dakota Demonstration Project:South Dakota Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation

Planning & Development District III is a voluntary association of local governments serving 16 counties in south central South Dakota. District III provides professional services to member counties, towns and tribal governments within the service area. Recently, District III has partnered with the South Dakota Cattle Feeder Council to implement a voluntary strategy to reduce the potential environmental impact from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). The demonstration project will develop a GIS database in support of this initiative. GPS will be used to collect data on feedlot boundaries, building footprints, wellheads and other data. Additional information such as type of feedlot, animal head count, digital photographs and other pertinent data will also be gathered at each site. All of the data will be incorporated into a GIS database for analysis. Once all of the sites have been prioritized, specific recommendations will be proposed on each site to make the feedlots more environmentally benign.

Government Entity: Arizona Department of Public Safety Demonstration Project:Arizona Auto Theft Investigative Network Jurisdiction Population: 5 million

The Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force, created in 1997, consists of personnel from 16 different state agencies. The group has responsibility for reducing vehicle theft throughout the state through public awareness, community education and deterrence of criminal activity through proactive enforcement and prosecution. The goal of the demonstration project will be to provide a state-of-the-art GIS computer system that provides a one-stop vehicle theft investigative data center for offering work-ups, case histories, modus operandi (MO) data, suspect personal history and location information. The auto theft GIS will provide a vehicle for incorporating, collating, analyzing and sharing information among multiple agencies and task forces, including the Border Interdiction Program.

Editor’s Note: POB plans to cover the progression of these projects in an upcoming issue.