In response to the editorial several weeks ago [“Got to be a better way?” Oct. 17], my father and his father were both land surveyors here in the commonwealth. While not a surveyor myself, my profession is at least tangentially related to computer mapping. In a previous life, I implemented computer mapping systems, termed GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The most popular GIS system used by counties and cities is ArcGIS.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the software, but I just checked the vendor’s website (ESRI) and they have a “plugin” available which automates “Land Use Public Notification.” A demo can be seen at localgovtemplates2.esri.com/PublicNotification.
Of course, all this would require a license for ArcGIS. I was pleasantly surprised that the licensing costs have come down substantially over the years. At $1,500 for a single license, it’s significantly cheaper than it used to be. But, and this is a big but, the real costs will be incurred digitizing the plats. Various tools in the application are available to aid in this, but it may be labor intensive.
In the past, a huge cost was procuring accurate base data (aerial or satellite photos), but, as anyone who’s used Google Maps, Mapquest or Zillow can attest, digital maps are accurate to the square meter, are readily available and most likely are included in the license cost. (As an aside, maps with this level of detail were closely guarded national secrets back in the 1980s!)
So the cool part is all this data, including Land Use Notifications, is publishable to any number of social media platforms (internal websites, Twitter, Facebook, email, SMS texts, even RappNews.com) for internal or public consumption.
Anyway, there’s a lot more on the ArcGIS website. Also, if anyone is interested in reading more about implementing a GIS system at the municipal level, or just for fun, might I suggest the following book: “The GIS Book,” by George Korte. (Full disclosure, the author is my father!)
Call me old-fashioned, but personally I like going down to Washington and pulling out the old plats, talking to the nice folks down there and seeing the old drawings. However, I’d be happy to answer anybody’s questions regarding GIS implementation. I charge $250 an hour . . . only kidding!