About Our GIS Department
GIS Division History
The GIS Division began as a pilot project in Community Planning and Environmental Services in 1994. At that time, a major objective was to improve map products for the service area and support its policy development functions. With the purchase of the first equipment and the conversion of existing maps into GIS format, this goal was accomplished within one year. In the past, often outdated maps were laboriously copied to size, hand-edited and then re-copied, which resulted in inferior quality maps. The new system enabled many users to make their own high-quality maps.
The GIS system contributed significantly to the development of the City's original comprehensive plan which was completed within only 18 months. GIS provided the opportunity to quickly provide base data, correct information and illustrate new scenarios.
In 1995, the Division became a full City program and has since expanded its databases and services considerably. By 1998, GIS had outgrown its departmental beginnings. We now have GIS users in every service area and are part of the Information and Employee Services service area to serve the City enterprise-wide. An important indicator for the growth, effectiveness and distribution of the GIS system is the number of data layers and users that we have. The number of data layers has increased from four in the first year to hundreds today and the number of direct users has grown from about four to over two hundred. These users may also include those that have and manage their own GIS data. Some users develop GIS over time, and require higher level GIS services from the GIS department which can include project planning, application creation, or further GIS development overall.
GIS Program Areas
The Geographic Information Services Division supports GIS activities within the City organization through the application of geographic information systems (GIS) technology. This technology allows any type of spatially referenced information to be stored, analyzed and reproduced. The GIS Division works in four program areas: Data Maintenance, Mapping, GIS Application Development (including web) and end-user support, and Program Administration and Development.
Data Maintenance - Routine maintenance of datasets and documentation of, and improvements to, existing datasets is a major responsibility. We currently maintain hundreds of different datasets, the most comprehensive of which, the parcel coverage contains over 50,000 records. One of the most important datasets we maintain currently is the set used for the E-911 system that cover the extent of Larimer County. Keeping this dataset working and up to date is of utmost importance for health and safety.
Mapping - The majority of the City's standard map products, specialty maps and project specific maps are made by GIS Division staff. The division produces several hundred maps each year, some of which are available to the public for purchase.
Application Development - With the completion of the Strategic Plan for the City's GIS implementation in 1998, we had a detailed work plan for the development of over 80 applications. The Council approved funding for the first two years of the Plan's implementation. The development of this Web site and the online mapping application are also a major portion of this effort. Today the website and interactive online mapping system continue to be a large part of the services we deliver to the public. Today we provide services for all departments that can include building and programming custom applications or, more often just providing basic support and customizing the use of the software out of the box.
Program Administration and Development - The GIS Division's data and services support business activities throughout the city organization. GIS data and services are on integral thread that runs throughout the organization, providing relevant services and products. This includes systems and applications, data services, maps, and other presentation products, spatial analysis, and general support of the organization in the use of GIS and DTS.