GIS in the municipal world

GIS can be an extremely important tool used for daily operations of a local government. The Town of Fort Frances is no exception.
A GIS system was implemented almost 10 years and we currently are in the process of updating the technology and data.
Although the Planning and Public Works departments are the primary users of GIS in their daily activities, GIS has proven useful for a variety of tasks in other departments, as well—such as creating maps for emergency response situations, infrastructure maintenance for municipal services, and other illustrative purposes.
Future plans include the integration of other town departments with GIS, as well as a web-based interactive GIS system similar to the City of Kenora.
GIS staff, located in the Engineering Office at Public Works, inputs, updates, and maintains the GIS database with various information on the location and type of a municipal services, such as fire hydrants, water valves, the water distribution system, sanitary sewer system, and storm sewer system.
Since the beginning of June, GIS has been used in the daily operations at Public Works with maps generated to assist maintenance crews locate water services for water breaks, sewer and water shutoffs for repairs, etc.
This past summer, two students were hired to collect necessary field information, using a hand-held GPS unit, to update the existing fire hydrants, water valves, and hydro poles in the GIS database.
The Planning Department also uses GIS frequently to assist with a multitude of tasks.
Whether used to respond to inquiries on a specific piece of property or on a property with specific criteria, GIS is relied on to provide the information in a timely manner.
The creation of custom maps for council, committee, or other departments for a lane or road closure, property disposition, or public hearing is made easier with GIS.
For even greater efficiency, the GIS is linked to assessment and ownership information to further facilitate access to a number of features on specific properties.
Much of the information produced and used by local governments has a geographic component. As such, GIS can play an important role for local governments.
As a central computer database of all map data, it is consistently and immediately available to all users, providing better organization and security.
It increases efficiency by eliminating redundant data while consolidating and providing data that is easier to search and analyze with greater flexibility, and produce maps in any combination of themes.
Watch for next week’s article featuring the Ministry of Natural Resources.
A reminder that GIS Day is coming up Wednesday, Nov. 16.
An open house is scheduled from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Fort Frances High School to showcase how GIS is used by local businesses and other organizations.
This event is being co-ordinated and sponsored by Abitibi-Consolidated Company of Canada, The Town of Fort Frances, the Rainy River Future Development Corp., the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Rainy River District School Board with co-operation from the Fort Frances Times.
For more information, Fiona Ryle (274-5311 ext. 1289) or Barb Elliott (274-8649).

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