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Engineers finding more uses for GIS

FTN Associates, a Little Rock engineering firm that specializes in solving environmental-related problems, has won a $40 million federal contract to update flood insurance maps. One of the main tools that will be needed to pull off the five-year task for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Dennis E. Ford, a company principal, is geographic information systems technology.

GIS — described as a database hooked up to a map — is not new, but its use has expanded greatly in the past few years.

While FTN has found its niche in the environmental field, which calls for a lot of data that can be provided by GIS, other engineering firms also are increasing the use of the comprehensive information available via GIS.

Carter & Burgess has a GIS specialist, James Achard, who aids the engineers on staff. Garver Engineers’ Glynn Fulmer says that firm is stepping into its use gradually.

More large-scale government projects now come with what Kris Kyzer, senior technician at Garver, calls GIS qualifiers, which means some of the work must be done using GIS.