US City becomes leader with GIS software

US City becomes leader with GIS software

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The leaders of Polk City, Iowa, US are receiving national attention for their use of computer software to track traffic accidents, create development maps and work on other community projects.

Polk City’s use of GIS tools was featured last fall at a Pennsylvania State University conference. A Web-based paper for the University of Arkansas also details how Polk City began using GIS, which generates maps and links information to specific points on a map. The software also can analyze data to track patterns and create databases.

Mayor Gary Heuertz said Polk City’s GIS program sets an example for other cities. City officials now can generate their own maps and databases, instead of contracting with other agencies and paying more money to get the same information.

The city’s startup bill was about $50,400 in fiscal year 2003-04, which included hardware, software, installation, staff training and technical service from Iowa State University Extension. Heuertz said the annual budget to support the GIS program is approximately $20,000.

Alan Jensen, statewide GIS coordinator for Iowa State University Extension, joined the team as Polk City’s unofficial GIS coordinator. Jensen suggested the city develop a committee to look at all of the possibilities available for GIS use in Polk City.