2009-06-11 / Front Page

New Geographic Information System now available online

By Eileen M. Daly

Jamestown’s Geographic Information System, also known as GIS, is now available online for public use.

“A municipal GIS is a combination of people, mapping, database software and network infrastructure that allows communities to compile, sort, manage and manipulate data to answer specific questions relating to safety, planning, public utilities, development and recreation,” said a summary provided by the town.

In the fall of 2005, the town’s consultants, Fuss & O’Neil, completed a GIS needs assessment and five-year implementation plan. Using this plan as a guide, the town has aggressively pursued implementation of the GIS.

Environmental Scientist Justin Jobin is the GIS coordinator for the town. “In the past, we used to have hand-drawn plat maps,” Jobin said. The new GIS system, he said, is more sophisticated. “These maps are geo-referenced, tied to real life coordinates, which allows us to easily add other data layers and customize the maps to our individual needs,” Jobin said.

The GIS system has multiple uses for the municipality as well as for residents.

There are three basic levels of use for the system, Jobin said. An individual can access the GIS on their computer at home by going to the town website and then clicking on the Web-GIS link or by using a web browser and typing www.maistreetmaps.com/RI/ Jamestown into the web browser. If Java is not installed on the computer then click on the Download Java link, and then click on agree. It will then be possible to search by address, owner or parcel ID to obtain property details.

Available information includes basic plat maps, building pictures, lot dimensions, approximate location of wetlands, distances and dimensions and aerial photos.

“This can really help with planning,” Jobin said. “You can even print out a basic sketch and bring it in so that when you’re talking with the planner or building inspector, everyone is on the same page.”

Other useful features for planning, according to Jobin, include the ability to locate septic systems and wetlands, and to obtain an abutters list.

More detailed information can be obtained at the public kiosk located in the town office, Jobin said. On the kiosk, images are more detailed and maps and records from the tax assessor can be printed. In addition, a certified abutters list with mailing labels may be obtained.

The most complex and sophisticated uses for the GIS are reserved for the municipality. Many different departments can access the GIS including emergency/911 services, the building official’s offi ce, and the department of public works. “The purpose of the GIS is to gather all of this information and provide it in a useful, easy-to-use interface. Instead of a big, complicated program, the Web-GIS makes it very simple for everyone to understand and navigate,” Jobin said.

The program is continually updated, Jobin said. “We’re gathering information all the time.” Recent uses of GIS include the mapping of Jamestown’s stormwater system in accordance with EPA Phase II Stormwater Regulations, mapping of public utilities (fire hydrants, catch basins, etc.,) linking GIS to the septic system database, pavement condition and snow plow route mapping, maps provided for land use planning (farmland acquisition and highway barn location,) and the development of the public GIS Kiosk and the Web-GIS program.

“GIS is a mapping program that really goes way beyond mapping. It is a tool that allows us to visualize data,” Jobin said. It is a simple program, very similar to Google Earth in terms of navigation, he said. “You don’t need a lot of computer experience to use GIS,” Jobin said, “and it puts all of that data right at your fingertips.”

To learn more about GIS, access the program online as noted above, or visit the public kiosk, located in the town offices.

Return to top