Massachusetts charts new course for GIS programme

Massachusetts charts new course for GIS programme

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Massachusetts, US: New legislation and more funding that went into effect July 1 will enable Massachusetts to improve its GIS programme, believe GIS experts.

Effective this month, the budget for the Massachusetts Geographic Information System (MassGIS) has increased to USD3 million annually from USD1 million, and will be moved into the Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD), which is overseeing an enterprise wide consolidation of the state’s IT assets.

MassGIS Director Christian Jacqz said moving the Office of the Geographic and Environmental Information into the ITD is one of the several recommendations for MassGIS of April 2010 task force report.

The plan calls for a three-year build-out of hosting infrastructure for MassGIS — the state’s geospatial database — as well as a refresh of aerial photo imagery. The added funding will come from the Executive Office for Administration and Finance and the State 911 Department. As part of the reorganisation, Jacqz has taken the title of geographic information officer, effective July 1.

MassGIS provides nearly six million custom-built maps a year and hundreds of different information layers to thousands of users, Jacqz said. Anybody who wants a map can call the server and request a map with specific data layers and data formats, and it’s delivered online.

But many stakeholders have grown frustrated by the system, Jacqz said, because of downloading problems. “Right now the programme is basically running in the basement of an office building in a fairly vulnerable situation. There isn’t good security and the hardware is fairly decrepit,” he said.

The new plan will move the MassGIS programme into ITD’s main data center, which will provide a more robust platform. The improvements will include better bandwidth, 24/7 access and data backup.

Backed by legislation, MassGIS — which refers both to the state’s GIS office and the data repository itself — coordinates data sharing across all government levels; assembles, archives and updates GIS data; provides technical assistance; and sets standards for the management and acquisition of geospatial data. The programme formerly resided in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Source: Government Technology