Franklin Council considers merits of using GIS mapping systems

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    FRANKLIN-In the age of the computer, things keep moving forward with better ideas and programming, as members of the borough council learned last week during a presentation by a county representative about electronic mapping in general and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in particular. David N. Kunz, the GIS manager from the Sussex County Division of Engineering, told the council that printed paper maps are on their way out, and digital maps are on the way in. "It helps you make better decisions," Kunz explained. "It's more than just a pretty-looking map. W here you would have had 14 maps spread out, now you can actually put those layers on those maps on top of each other and actually begin to see relationships that you've never seen before." Kunz said that GIS is an idea good for not only determining how to get "from one destination to another," but proves useful for thematic shading and buffer proximity analysis as well. Kunz showed on screen that a quick look by designated color can tell which land can be developed and which cannot, based upon "specific environmental criteria." He said that all catch-basins in Ogdensburg and Byram have been mapped via GIS, and that the majorities of both Newton and Franklin have been, also. Eventually, he said, "our goal is to do the whole county and the data will be available to the municipalities upon request." "I still see it as technologically-driven," the GIS manager added. "As technology advances, GIS will advance. So I still see it in its adolescent stage." GIS allows interaction with numerous data bases that provide information "about that road, such as speed limit, material type and turn restrictions," which in turn can overlay with information such as catch basins, Kunz further explained. He said that GIS information is available on either a contributory or non-contributory basis, and outlined the differences. "If a municipality or a non-profit (group) wishes to have data advanced specifically for them, the county offers 150 hours of dedicated development time for $5,000 dollars," said Kunz. "Beyond that, they can purchase additional time in blocks of eight hours for $240 dollars per block per day. However, the county is developing numerous countywide data layers which we make available for free." The county representative also said that the GIS concept has been in existence for about 20 years, but "only recently with more of the PC boom has it been more widely available. It's a vision that was ahead of the technology." The presentation was arranged by councilman Gilbert Snyder and other council members seemed interested, although no commitments have yet been made. "I think it's going to be very, very useful just as a resource to have it," commented councilman Dayne Hill. "Any information you can get quicker and easier is a good thing."