Thursday, January 24, 2008

Interactive map promoting Waterloo

As small Midwestern communities struggle with manufacturing job loss, a dropping population and the movement of retail business to mega-box stores, the city of Waterloo is fighting back by employing an innovative mapping technology to promote itself to the region.

According to Waterloo City Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen, the city is holding a kick-off event for the release of its new interactive map Jan. 30 at the Junginger Memorial Library, 625 N. Monroe St., Waterloo, at 6:30 p.m.

The kick-off event is the culmination of a yearlong project headed by Waterloo resident and University of Wisconsin geography map-maker Laura Cotting. Cotting's family ties date back five generations in Waterloo. A recent graduate of the UW program in Geographic Information Systems, Cotting has invested more than 2,000 hours of time to develop a one-of-a-kind mapping tool for her hometown of 3,296 people.

The map is composed of two sections, municipal and regional. It is unique, even among maps of its kind, in its extensive use of photographs, both modern and historic.

The municipal map uses a high resolution black and white aerial photograph of the city as a background. The user can choose from several options for overlays, including parcel boundaries, zoning categories, or planned land use from Waterloo's Comprehensive Plan. The municipal map also features a search utility, in which the user can type in a business name or category and be taken to its location within the map. Pop-up boxes containing the name and contact information appear. The user can access photographs by activating the photograph layer from the map legend, or by clicking on the “see photo” option in the pop-up box.

The regional map depicts attractions highlighting Waterloo's proximity to recreational and cultural opportunities. The user may select several options for overlays including elements of the proposed Glacial Heritage Area, bike routes, snowmobile trails, the Drumlin Glacial Trail, highways, locations of rural cemeteries, and many other features of interest, including sportsmen's clubs, preserves, rural restaurants and recreational attractions.

The interactive mapping link is

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