USA: Hinds County has launched a mapping system that officials say will make government more efficient and information more accessible to the public.
The $63,000 GIS offers residents access to computerised, interactive maps of the county. These maps are replacing paper maps that most county departments, including the Sheriff’s Department, rely upon. “There’s just an unlimited amount of things you can do with GIS,” said Blake Wallace, executive director of the Hinds County Economic Development District. The district is overseeing the set-up of the system. The system will benefit emergency responders in particular, said Larry Fisher, director of Hinds County Emergency Management.
The electronic maps will allow dispatchers and law enforcement to pinpoint cell-phone calls. It will be faster than the current system – in which a dispatcher or responder has to look up the coordinates on paper, Fisher said. The system also will help Hinds and the city of Jackson match the technology of surrounding counties.
The county has contracted with Madison-based Geospatial Group to install the computer equipment and software for the system. The funding for the system is in the county’s budget. A GIS server recently went online with electronic maps made available to county departments, Wallace said. The maps show items such as roads, buildings and street addresses. That information ultimately will be available on the Internet for the public, Wallace said. He anticipates that will be ready within the next year.
Madison and Rankin counties have their own GIS departments. Hinds is a ways off from that, Wallace said.