At a time when there is substantial local government budget shortfalls, the GIS department and it’s many users in County and City agencies are utilizing the speed and efficiency that the GIS system provides to get information to those who need it. The ability to easily and quickly retrieve valuable information becomes increasingly important as departments are forced to reduce their staff.
Delaware County GIS Department has provided a land records website to the public for several years now. Unfortunately there was not an in-depth study of property-based requests prior and after the website was made available. For those of us who handle those requests in the GIS Dept, Planning Department, Auditor’s and Assessors, there has been a obvious reduction of counter traffic for those typical land record requests, and the website’s usage statistics show this dramatically:
Delaware County GIS Website (Beacon) Usage Statistics
Jan1st – May15, 2011
Total Requests: 463,391 (search, query, map identify, etc…)
Average Requests/Day: 3,432
Total Visits: 30,073
Avg Visits/Day: 223
Avg Request/ Visitor 15
As the GIS department took over the maintenance of the County’s land parcel boundaries from the Auditor’s plat room, the days of red-lining parcel boundary changes by hand on dilapidated paper books were gone the books were scanned and archived, leaving the GIS system to bear the brunt of public land record maintenance and information requests. There has been growing pains moving from a less-than-accurate paper-based map to a much more accurate digital GIS parcel map, but the GIS Parcel technician is tackling those issues in an efficient manner.
With a more accurate and complete parcel map, the county has been able to make sure citizens are more fairly and accurately taxed based upon the property they own. The GIS parcel data has been used by re-assessment staff to make sure areas are assessed accurately and completely. The GIS parcel data will also be used by the Assessor’s office as part of a new GIS-based system that assesses farmland based upon soil types and productivity factors, which was previously done by hand using paper maps. GIS Parcel data was also used to show where tax delinquent properties were located and give potential tax sale bidders an idea of where these properties were located, helping to get those properties back on the tax roll. The Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission utilizes GIS on a daily basis for zoning and addressing (they maintain these GIS data sets), as well as floodplain, transportation, and other planning initiatives.
In addition to the Historic Maps and Document Viewer, the Delaware County GIS Department also provides access to other web-based maps that meet other specific needs accessible through the county website. The Historic Maps and Document Viewer provides access to aerial photos ranging from 1961 to present as well as scanned Auditor’s plat books. The site also provides access to scanned subdivision plats (form the 1800s on) and surveys as they are used to update and maintain the parcel data. There are currently over 5,000 scanned documents retrievable through this application.
There are also map applications available through ArcGIS.com that provides access to interactive map applications such as a detailed county basemap, Cardinal Greenway map, support maps for projects like the Muncie Action Plan and BSU Student community immersive projects that the GIS Department has provided assistance with. There are also several other "beta" map applications that are for testing new data and technologies.
This year, Delaware County Emergency Services is replacing their decades-old computer-aided dispatch software with a new comprehensive software that Sheriff, jail, and 911 dispatch will use to maintain their records and respond to emergencies. In 911 dispatch, the new software utilizes GIS at it’s core to provide the correct responding agency, unit, and agency for the 911 call location. The response boundaries are geographically maintained in a GIS database, and can more easily and quickly be updated as needed, where in the prior software substantial and cumbersome tabular (not map based) database edits were required, even for minor changes. The GIS Department has the ability to control the look and feel of the map that the 911 dispatchers use, providing valuable information that is quickly and easily accessible such as school building floor plans, fire hydrant locations, aerial imagery, with more to be added.