Emergency dispatching, land records and economic development will get a boost from Scott County’s geographic information system when it is unveiled in a few weeks.
When it goes live, the geographic information system, or GIS, will be a cornucopia of data. It will link deed and plat information, infrastructure data, planning information like flood zones and land use maps and provide a bird’s-eye view of sites being considered for economic development.
The Scott County Board of Supervisors commissioned the GIS in 2003 and hired Ray Weiser as the coordinator in 2005. The project involved flyover photography shot in 2005 and 2009 and checking and re-checking data that is layered into a computer system.
“What we wanted was it to be user-friendly and be fast,” Weiser said. “We tried to mimic that experience of Google Earth maps.”
Scott County jumped into GIS late, Board Chairman Tom Sunderbruch conceded, but what he has seen should be helpful to many people.
“We have something that is very manageable for the entire region,” he said of the Web-based system. “For safety and security, it is paramount.”
For police and fire, GIS will note driveway entrances, fire hydrant locations, stormwater drains and be able to provide turn-by-turn navigation for emergency dispatchers communicating with first-responders.
“There are a lot of capabilities you can roll into this system,” said Brian Hitchcock, director of the nearly completed Scott Emergency Communication Center.
Bob McGivern of Koestner, McGivern and Associates in Davenport is among a focus group of appraisers, Realtors, surveyors and abstractors who have used the system ahead of its unveiling to provide feedback to the county.
His company has used GIS in counties across the state and is impressed by Scott County’s system.
“This is one of the best systems I’ve seen to date,” he said. “I can’t speak more highly about what they’ve brought out for public records.
“I can pull up a specific neighborhood and do a query and find out recent sales,” he said, “and quickly link to city or county assessor and recorder’s office for historical documents, historical sales.”
Johnson County rolled out its GIS in 2004. It is used primarily for land information, while county departments use it for planning and tracking information, said Rick Havel, Johnson County’s GIS coordinator.
The county also has aerial mapping from the 2008 floods for historical purposes, he said.
GIS software, especially for web-based access has improved over the past few years, Havel said, so Scott County’s late arrival will at least offer a more user-friendly system.
Tim Huey, Scott County’s Planning and Zoning director, thinks the system will be helpful. As an early user, he is already seeing the benefits. He has access to information to quickly answer questions and it helps in preparing presentations.
“With all the different layers, it gives me a lot of information,” he said. “For the public, it will be online and people can do their research at home, too.
“It is great having all the information at your fingertips.”