Chatham County enhances online GIS mapping and information

Chatham County enhances online GIS mapping and information

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USA – Chatham County residents should find it easier and faster to access even more maps and information using the county’s new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) website. The GIS online address remains the same www.chathamgis.com and it also is a button link under the rotating photos at: www.chathamnc.org.

“While our web address has not changed, the GIS website has a totally new look and offers new benefits for users,” said Jeremy Poss, GIS specialist. “We were able to use free OpenSource software to build the new website and host our own site, which has saved the county $20,000-$40,000 in software costs and annual fees.”

All users should find that it is faster to use, thanks to a faster server, and those with different web browsers should find the new site more compatible. “If you had problems in the past, give the new site a try,” Poss said.

Poss said that his department recognizes that Chatham County has a strong base of GIS system users who rely on access to accurate, current GIS information. “We also know that GIS data is essential for effective planning and management of infrastructure, such as water systems and schools, as well as natural resources. It is a critical resource for decision making in all of these areas.”

The main enhancement is improved online mapping, Poss said. Users can get to the new mapping function on the main GIS web page by using the first link under GIS Links (left-side menu) or they can click on the linked aerial map in the lower part of the center column. Users also can bookmark the following address to go directly to mapping: www.chathamgis.com/mapguide/ChathamGISWeb/.

The enhanced mapping website includes access to nearly 80 data layers in folders organized by county functions (Planning, Environmental Health, etc.) or by themes (Addressing, Census, etc.).

The site also has aerial photos for 2007, 2002 and 1997 as well as data related to the work of the county’s Environmental Review and Chatham Conservation Partnership.

“Users will find numerous layers related to conservation planning and natural resources, including soil classifications, water resources, and land owned or managed by the conservation groups and state or federal agencies,” Poss added.

When visiting the new mapping website, users can take advantage of new features. The Tasks Button in the upper right menu bar allows the user to not only select search parcels by owner name, address or parcel number (AKPAR), but to also to use the advanced Query Layers search. Query Layers allows users to search parcels by a new range of criteria, such as acreage or fair market value.

Other new features are described below:

  • A new parcel buffer tool (located on the right side of the menu bar) allows users to create a buffer around a parcel and download a text file of adjacent parcels within the buffer area. This file can be used to print mailing labels to notify property owners about a proposed rezoning in their neighborhood. Businesses also will find this tool useful, said Poss.
  • Users can download and print parcel maps and property record files in PDF format.

Enhanced GIS mapping is not the only new feature, Poss said. The main GIS webpage includes important links:

  • NC OneMap, the state’s GIS mapping website, which has GIS information and maps for many local governments across the state as well as federal agency data;,
  • Chatham County’s FTP server, where users can download specific layers of GIS data as well as tax data files and project files;
  • The Tax Office’s online tax records search system;
  • The Register of Deeds online deeds search system; and
  • Chatham County’s website.

“Another important feature of the main webpage is a selection of shortcut tabs across the top. These take you quickly to some of the most popular GIS functions,” Poss said.

The Downloads Tab takes users to a page with the most commonly requested GIS download files, such as tax data files and the list of county roads.

The Maps Gallery Tab is a link to popular GIS maps in PDF form, which can be viewed or downloaded. The election district map for county commissioners and road maps (from 1944 and 2007) are examples of maps that can be found in the gallery.

The News Section will update users on GIS-related news. The page also has a place for users to submit questions or comments, located on the right side of the page.

“The entire process of transitioning to a faster server and adding more layers has taken several months,” Poss said. “We still have a few things to adjust, so we greatly appreciate the patience of citizens as we continue to evolve to meet their GIS needs.”