Friday, December 25, 2009

Online GIS in South Hadley

South Hadley-Residents in the US with Internet service will be able to access the town's GIS maps in January. Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) will host this service, says report.

Town Planner Richard Harris said the advantages of having PVPC host the GIS database are many. It will give the public easy access to information that would otherwise have to be obtained by a trip or phone call to Town Hall, such as property valuations, zoning districts, voting precincts and polling locations.

The data management system will link planning, zoning and public works information, as well as from other departments, adding efficiencies for the departments, said Harris.

Contracting with PVPC will save the town money, as the service will be free for a year and cost just $1,500 the following year. The fee would be $2,000 more the second year if PVPC performs maintenance on the GIS maps, a service for which the Board of Assessors alone now pays $2,000 annually, Harris said.

If the town were to try and host the Web-based system, it would have to invest in computer server and information storage space, he said.

PVPC has already made the investment and expects to invest more money, because it views the service as part of the regional planning agency's mission, said Jim Scace, senior planner and GIS specialist. PVPC has pledged to keep the cost low in the future for towns that sign up for the service in its early stages, he said.

"We've looked at other systems and this is a fraction of the cost. It's a no-brainer," said Daniel Evans, the town's information services manager.


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