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Illinois Department of Agriculture develops an enterprise GIS strategy

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) in U.S. is developing an enterprise GIS strategy to better use state agricultural data to coordinate a response to an agroterrorism attack. State agriculture departments bear much of the responsibility for safeguarding agricultural resources against acts of agroterrorism. Unlike bio-terrorism, which is aimed at killing or sickening people, agroterrorism is an economic attack that uses plants or pathogens to disrupt agricultural production. The IDOA is using a $165,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant obtained by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force to develop the new enterprise GIS strategy. The work builds on a 2003 project in Clinton County that used GIS to plot agricultural assets such as livestock, grain elevators, food processing facilities and companies that specialize in transporting agricultural produce.

The IDOA’s GIS strategy will be developed in two phases. Phase one, the Animal Disease/Emergency Response Project, will collect information and develop a strategic plan focused on animal health. Phase two will deploy software tools to track animals and other agricultural assets to better prevent or respond to an agricultural emergency. Phase one concluded recently and phase two is slated to be launched in the near future. In addition to being a powerful homeland security tool, GIS will help IDOA improve the quality and efficiency of its services, and support such activities as critical decision-making, field staff deployment and environmental impact studies. GIS would play a support role by providing exact locations of key areas such as livestock premises, agri-facilities and the infrastructure, such as roads, topography, water tables and waterways. The system will also be used to track resources needed in a response and will eventually track livestock movement.