Point of Beginning

The Latest News

May 22, 2001
This month's latest news features NOAA's 30th anniversary, a revised GIS Toolkit, and CityGIS.

A bathymetric/topographic digital elevation model of the Tampa Bay area.

NOAA Reflects on 2000

Reaching a 30th anniversary signifies tenacity and relevance for an organization. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) celebrated 30 years of service in 2000. In the past year NOAA has established the Oceans Act of 2000, which deals with comprehensive national ocean policy; developed a strategy for future ocean exploration; and created a committee for the Marine Transportation System that improves the United States’ system of waterways. The National Ocean Service (NOS), one of the many agencies under NOAA, also accomplished many noteworthy events in 2000. NOS provides the United States with information pertaining to marine navigation, which includes nautical charts, shoreline surveys, and information on water levels, currents and weather. It also maintains the National Spatial Reference System, a set of geographic coordinates for land surveying, navigation, mapping and GPS.

Other NOS accomplishments in 2000 include:

  • NOS assisted in a GPS survey in Texas to monitor subsidence. In Florida, NOS used GPS to restore the Everglades’ water flow. In Wyoming, NOS established a baseline for monitoring changes in the Yellowstone Caldera, a volcanic area inside Yellowstone National Park.

  • NOS developed a plan to update hydrographic surveys for 500,000 square nautical miles. The critical survey backlog reported in 1994 has been reduced by more than 1,450 square nautical miles in 2000 between NOAA vessels and contracts in the private sector.

  • NOS added a weekly update service for corrections to raster nautical charts on its website located at www.nos.noaa.gov/. In addition, NOS launched a business-to-business E-commerce website, www.nauticalcharts.gov. A variety of NOAA charts and publications can be ordered online by authorized chart agents.

  • NOS partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey on the NOAA-USGS Bathy/ Topo/Shoreline Tampa Bay Demonstration Project. The project included developing a bathymetric/topographic digital elevation model for the Tampa Bay region. The map will be used for managing coastal resources and protection of coastal property.

  • NOS resurveyed a portion of the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina using GPS surveys. The boundary has not been well defined since 1735.

  • The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development and NOS worked together to create a computerized dune erosion modeling program. NOS, with the help of the Washington Department of Ecology, added Airborne Topographic Mapping Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data to the program, which will help coastal managers identify coastal erosion.


GIS Toolkit Released to Educate Public

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) have joined together to release a GIS information toolkit called The NSDI Communications Toolkit. The toolkit is composed of three briefing materials: a CD-ROM entitled, “Using Geography to Advance the Business of Government,” which includes a PowerPoint slide presentation; a brochure, “Using Geography to Advance the Business of Government-Tap into the Power of GIS,” which gives a general overview of GIS; and a videotape, “The Power of Place to Support Decision Making,” produced by ESRI of Redlands, Calif., a leader in the GIS industry. The video features examples of policy makers who utilize GIS to aid in government decision making.

The NSDI Communications Toolkit is targeted for business officials unfamiliar with GIS and its abilities, and is designed to motivate and educate officials to use the potential of spatial data and geospatial technology in daily problem solving. David Painter of the FGDC said GIS doesn’t really get out far beyond a specialized group or community. There is neglect in GIS use, according to Painter, especially since GIS underlies so much data today. Painter explained this is why it is important to show officials the potential GIS has for every day businesses.

The educational kit is free upon request. To get a brief overview of the toolkit and to download some of the material from the FGDC website, go to http://www.fgdc.gov.

CityGIS is accessed through the Internet.

Digital Mapping Products (DMP) Targets the Little Cities

Every business loves to save money and time—that goes without saying. CityGIS, released by Digital Map Products (DMP), Costa Mesa, Calif., is capturing the interest of many businesses and agencies nationwide for just this reason. CityGIS, accessed at www.CityGIS.com, is real-time GIS that streamlines geographic statistical information. This product allows users access to statistical geographic information by linking computerized maps with databases throughout specific geographic areas.

Previously, the process was a lot more complicated and costly, especially with the added factors of employee training costs, acquisition of various GIS software and data, and hours spent planning. Through CityGIS the process is instantaneously accessed via the Internet. Jim Skurzynski, president of DMP said, “Because it is delivered via the Internet, DMP’s application does not require special systems, hardware, software or training. The result is a significant reduction in the cost and time typically associated with acquiring, implementing and supporting GIS systems.”

CityGIS offers a layout of a city or cities, which includes mapping information on roads, property boundaries, rights of way and easements plus property attributes such as parcel records, legal documents and aerial photography. The standard CityGIS package features a city’s parcel maps, property attributes and aerial imagery. Additionally, users can customize data to display whichever aspects they need.

The primary target area for City GIS included smaller cities in southern California that had not previously had the resources to access GIS. Now, CityGIS is also being utilized by larger cities in the area. Over 30 cities in southern California have utilized the CityGIS system including Mission Viejo, Garden Grove and Laguna Beach.

“Around 80 percent of the population of the United States will be mapped out by the summer of 2001,” Skurzynski promises. Resulting from the positive feedback received from the southern California cities, DMP will nationally market and distribute CityGIS beginning this summer.

CityGIS is primarily utilized by government agencies, such as city police departments, fire departments and city councils, but is gaining precedence within the private sectors with real estate companies and even Disney. For example, fire departments use CityGIS to create fire attack plans, and for locating property addresses and fire hydrants. Municipal governments use it for such activities as water infrastructure and storm drain maintenance, and parking and street permit management. Government agencies use CityGIS for police force crime analysis and traffic accidents, or city address information and land use. Various public sectors, such as school systems have also used CityGIS for mapping and planning.

DMP charges a monthly fee for the use of CityGIS. The price varies depending on how large the geographical area is and how many people will be accessing the program. Customization also varies each price. DMP routinely updates the database with new information. Skurzynski said that the next generation of CityGIS will allow users to highlight and edit in the system according to their needs.

Associate Editor Sharon Oselin compiles “The Latest News.” If you have a timely, newsworthy item, please call her at 248/244-6465. Also visit www.pobonline.com for weekly news updates.