Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and computerized mapping focus on two broad areas. The first, manages facilities and records. It links databases such as tax records, water billing addresses, sewer locations, and other types of infrastructure records to a “map”. By joining the powers of a database with the visual acuity of a map, enormous potential is unleashed for facilities management and presentation of information. For example, sewer manholes needing repair can be queried, plotted, and used as a base for the current year’s maintenance program.
The second area facilitates the analysis of data already collected. Counties and municipalities have spent millions of dollars establishing GIS databases that can be tapped for study. In fact, any digitally oriented information can be placed in a GIS environment for analysis. Typical information often available from these GIS databases includes parcel maps, zoning maps, digital orthographic aerial photographs, facilities maps, topographic maps, and census data. Information maintained by local governments can be used for studies, impact analysis, and long-range planning. Examples include using parcel maps to determine impacts from a road project or using existing land use maps with parcel and soils maps to determine runoff curves for a stormwater study. These are just two examples of how GIS can assist using information that is currently available to most communities.