Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are powerful software management tools that can be used by decision-makers and organizations to make more informed assessments through the use of relevant data. GIS allow the modeling of various scenarios to determine results of actions under consideration. GIS systems include contact mapping, consumer analysis and enterprise systems all important for planning infrastructure. Many regional councils and metropolitan planning organizations have in place sophisticated GIS with valuable data used for comprehensive, contingency, transportation and other planning activities. The data these organizations collect is valuable to federal, state and local governments.
GIS Issue Brief
Geographic Information Systems allow regions to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in ways that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. In addition to the FGDC Cooperative Agreement Program that NARC was awarded in 2010, there are various other grant programs that assist with GIS data and training. For example, EPA coordinates with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to support the development of National Land Cover Data (NLCD). The NLCD project was initiated in 1992 by several federal agencies to acquire remote sensing data needed for environmental monitoring programs. The FGDC Cooperative Agreement Program has been canceled for 2013 and 2014, but there are many other resources available through the federal government to improve GIS services in regions.
NARC Member Case Studies
- GIS as an Opportunity for Member Services – South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG), North Haven, CT: SCRCOG has been awarded a grant for nearly $600,000 under the state’s Regional Performance Incentive Grant Program, for development of a Regional Web-Based Geographic Information System (GIS) Program. The new regional GIS services will enhance the GIS services currently provided, at varying levels, by the Region’s municipalities by developing a regional web-based GIS Program that will have additional and improved data layers.
- GIS to Coordinate Activities across All Levels of Government – Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC), Haverhill, MA: Working as the state-designated Regional GIS Service Center for northeastern Massachusetts, MVPC fosters cooperation among local, state, regional and federal government agencies and the private sector in order to improve the quality, access, cost-effectiveness and utility of GIS as a strategic resource. MVPC provides access to information technology through the provision of GIS/IT services on a regional basis, with services ranging from: parcel mapping, pictometry products, and Municipal Information Mapping Access Program.
- GIS Products are Valuable to Local Communities – North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (NCWRPC), Wausau, WI:The NCWRPC has available a variety of graphic and mapping products, from aerial photos to wetland maps. They assist communities with Land Record Modernization Plans, grant applications and RFP’s for GIS services. Custom data sets and maps are also available for communities
- In April 2010, NARC, in partnership with ESRI, received a Cooperative Agreement Program award from the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to offer metadata training for regional councils. With FGDC’s support and ESRI’s technical expertise, NARC held a workshop at its 44th Annual Conference in Cleveland, OH, in June 2010, as well as a three-part webinar training series in July and August 2010. Additional information on NARC’s workshop and webinar series about GIS metadata and its importance is available HERE.
- Federal Communications Commission: This website provides the tools to create, view, query and print customized maps showing FCC licensing data, regulated towers and market area boundaries. There maps can help in conducting analysis on current service and need/feasibility studies for new services.
- Federal Geographic Data Committee: FGDC is an interagency committee that promotes the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data on a national basis. This nationwide data publishing effort is known as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.
- Data.gov: Since, 2005 Geodata.gov has provided the largest web-based access at a single-point for maps, government data, and geospatial services–the Geospatial One Stop. Data.gov, launched in May 2009, provides access to over 400,000 (primarily geospatial) datasets from 172 agencies across the Federal government.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory: NREL’s GIS team analyzes wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and other energy resources and inputs the data into GIS. They provides map, data and tools for renewable energy resources that determine which energy technologies are viable solutions in domestic and international regions.
- U.S. Board on Geographic Names: This Federal body was created in 1890 and established in its present form by Public Law in 1947 to maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. The Board promulgates official geographic feature names with locative attributes as well as principles, policies, and procedures governing the use of domestic names, foreign names, Antarctic names, and undersea feature names.
U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Bureau of the Census:The Census Bureau is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System responsible for producing data about the American people and economy.
- Maps and Cartographic Resources: The Maps & Data section of the U.S. Census Bureau provides geographic data and products such as the TIGER/Line Shapefiles, KMLs, TIGERweb, cartographic boundary files, geographic relationship files, and reference and thematic maps.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: NCDC is the world’s largest provider of weather and climate data. Land-based, marine, radar, weather balloon, satellite, and paleoclimatic are just a few of the types of datasets available.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Risk Management Agency: RMA uses GIS technology to tie its actuarial and policy information to physical units of land in a manner that supports needs across the insurance industry. This capability allows RMA and insurance providers to take advantage of the geographic content of individual insurance policies, including the ability to integrate this data with existing RMA data to create a fuller picture of the economic and agronomic attributes of a producer’s insured acreage.
- Rural Development: This agency runs programs intended to improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. it administers non-farm financial programs for rural housing, community facilities, water and waste disposal, and rural businesses.
- Geospatial Data Gateway: GDG is the One Stop Source for environmental and natural resources data, which allows you to choose your area of interest, browse and select data from their catalog, customize the format, and have it downloaded or shipped on CD or DVD.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA Enterprise GIS Services’ primary mission is administration, coordination, collection, and dissemination of geographic information for FEMA and the Energy Management Community under Emergency Support Function #5 (Information and Planning) of the National Response Framework. It includes a full range of GIS services to all FEMA program offices that encompasses sophisticated geospatial analytics through the Mapping and Analysis Center (MAC) and deployable GIS technology through the Deployable Emergency GIS program (DEGS).
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Office of Community Planning and Development: HUD has developed formula grantee boundary files, designed for use in a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. The CPD grantee boundaries require special geography for which the boundary files are not available through the Census Bureau. HUD has developed two different sets of boundary files to supplement the Census Bureau boundary files.
- Community Planning & Development Census Data: This data includes the following population items: sex, age, Hispanic or Latino origin, household relationship, and household and family characteristics.
U.S. Department of the Interior
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Geospatial services provide the technology to create, analyze, maintain, and distribute geospatial data and information. GIS, GPS and remote sensing play a vital role in all of the Service’s long-term goals and in analyzing and quantifying the USFWS Operation Plan Measures.
- National Park Service:GIS and related technologies are necessary tools for upholding the mandate of the National Park Service to manage parks for future generations. Maps assist in communication between resource managers, the public and the academic community.
- U.S. Geological Service: The National Geospatial Program provides leadership for USGS geospatial coordination, production and service activities. The Program engages partners to develop standards and produce consistent and accurate data through its Geospatial Liaison Network.
U.S. Department of Transportation
- Bureau of Transportation Statistics: This is a national resource for transportation spatial data and analysis that utilizes GIS. GIS enhancement allows planners and others to visualize large quantities of transportation data, often rendering it more meaningful. GIS help’s highlight the transportation system’s reach, coverage, modal relationships, key corridors, and the relationship to our nation’s economic activity and environment.
- Federal Highway Administration: The FHWA Geospatial Data Collaboration (GDC) is a new initiative for geospatial data-sharing sponsored by FHWA. The initiative encourages transportation agencies to use geospatial tools to share data, increase collaboration, and improve the quality and speech of transportation decision-making.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- National Geospatial Program: EPA’s National Geospatial Program coordinates the Agency’s geospatial data, applications, policies and programs.
- American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS): ASPRS is a scientific association serving over 7,000 professional members around the world. Their mission is to advance knowledge and improve understanding of mapping sciences to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and supporting technologies.
- The American Geophysical Union:AGU provides a dynamic forum for Earth, atmosphere, oceanic, hydrologic, space, and planetary scientists to advance research and communicates science and its power to ensure a sustainable future.
- National States Geographic Information Council:NSGIC’s mission is to promote statewide geospatial coordination activities in all states and to be an effective advocate for states in national geospatial policy and initiatives, thereby enabling the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.