Pascagoula’s Geographic Information System is being used as a model for Jackson County and its other cities to follow. Officials with the county, the cities of Moss Point, Gautier and Ocean Springs and county civil defense got a demonstration at Pascagoula City.
For the past 18 months, Pascagoula officials have used the computer-based map program to find information about homes, businesses, industries, water and sewer services, zoning, flood plains, railroads and land size and usage.
The data was derived from aerial photography and county tax information, which will be available to other cities wanting to implement their own systems. With the click of a mouse, city officials can find information on topics ranging from infrastructure to the status of a crew’s response to a call on the streets.
Pascagoula Assistant City Manager Jamie Miller said GIS is a valuable tool for “people making the decisions” to have the best available information at all times. “It’s really incredible. Every time I look at it, something new’s been added,” Pascagoula City Manager Kay Johnson said.
Geographic Computer Technologies helped Pascagoula design and implement its system and will help the other councils and agencies meet their goals. GCT analyst John Defraites said the photography and parcel information the county gathered in 1994 is “such a huge part” of the system, and that the other cities also can take advantage of it.
Jackson County GIS director Robert Sema said the county fields numerous requests from outside sources looking for crucial detailed information, which is mostly still retrieved through large files and mapping systems.
Greg Hymel, senior GIS analyst with GST, said the public will be able to access city databases over the Internet, and the cities can still control what can be accessed. Defraites said the four major “layers” of information would be streets, buildings, waterways and railroad systems.
And each area may require different criteria. Ocean Springs community development and planning director Donovan Scruggs said using photos for commercial buildings is more important than residential structures, which can be identified with a dot and address information.
Scruggs said GIS could help with growth and zoning issues. “I think (GIS) makes everybody’s job a lot easier,” he said.
GCT plans to meet with officials regularly to establish contractual matters and costs.
Hymel said it takes about 15 months after entering into a contract to get the cities’ systems off and running. Pascagoula has spent about $40,000 on its system.