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NYS ITS GIS Program Office

Geographic Information Systems Clearinghouse

Rural Justice Institute Assists Local Agencies with GIS

The Rural Justice Institute (RJI) at Alfred University was created in 2001 as a collaborative enterprise between the University and local agencies and schools. The goal of RJI partnerships is to increase the efficacy of current services, develop new initiatives to enhance the lives of troubled youth and their families, and reduce the incidence of juvenile delinquency in Allegany County and the surrounding rural New York Counties.

One of RJI's collaborative projects has been the development of the Rural Data and Resource Development Initiative (RDRDI). RDRDI started in 2003 through the combined effort of RJI, the Institute for Human Services, Inc., and the Allegany/Western Steuben Rural Health Network, Inc. RDRDI was created to promote the collection and distribution of data to improve resource development and planning for agencies in rural areas. A GIS Specialist, Justin Grigg, became part of the RDRDI team in 2005.

rji mapping applicationThe objective of integrating GIS into RDRDI is to provide human services agency staff, RJI partnering agencies and the general public with tools to help increase their awareness and consumption of spatial data. RDRDI's GIS activities include both general and project-specific maps and spatial analyses for Allegany County and surrounding areas, as well as GIS edu- Rural Justice Institute Assists Local Agencies with GIS cation opportunities for RJI partner agencies.

An overriding consideration in the utilization of GIS at RDRDI has been the ability for end-users – primarily staff at partnering agencies – to successfully consume GIS deliverables. For example, on the RJI web site ( the RJI Mapping Center provides pre-defined maps in several formats to support differing consumer needs. As shown in Figure 1, pre-defined maps are available as a PDF for printing, as a low resolution JPEG for screen viewing, and as a high resolution JPEG for use in presentations and other projects. Consideration for the end-user is also evident in the RJI-authored guides to third-party Online Interactive Mapping Applications available in the RJI Mapping Center. The intention of the guides is to assist partners not already fluent in online mapping or GIS technology with a stepping-off point in the event they are interested in creating dynamic maps for use in projects, presentations, and planning activities. Guides are written only for those mapping viewers with meaningful coverage of the region and are not assumed to provide an exhaustive list.

The success of GIS at RDRDI is reflected in the growing sophistication of partner projects. In the summer of 2007, the GIS team took on two projects with exciting opportunities for RJI to assist local partner programs with regional and possibly statewide implications.

The first project is the result of an RJI partnership with the Partners for Prevention in Allegany County. The goals of the project focus on the geocoding, mapping, and spatial analysis of the results of the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 Allegany County Schools Student Risk and Protective Factor Surveys as well as the 2006 Resource Assessment. The Risk and Protective Factor Surveys are sponsored by the Partners for Prevention in Allegany County and in previous years, Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.

health applicationThe second project is the result of another RJI partnership– this time with the Institute for Human Services, Inc. The goals of this project focus on the extension of the Institute's Helpline database into a geographic information system. The helpline program database will be used as the database behind the new 2-1-1 call line for a five county area on the Southern/Central Tier of New York state. 2-1-1 is a free and confidential information and referral service that provides access to current information about available human services.

For both of these projects, the datasets are too large and too active to satisfy with one-off maps. The GIS team considered web services, the creation of an ArcIMS site, or a CD distributed with ArcReader or equivalent as possible technologies for these projects. In the end, again with the enduser in mind, it was decided a simpler solution, available with the release of ArcGIS Desktop 9.2, would suffice for the initial provision of maps for both projects. This solution, referred to as "static maps plus 1", was chosen when it was determined Adobe Reader was available and familiar to end-users.

In ArcGIS 9.2, a map exported as a PDF has its layers preserved. Using Adobe Reader 6.0 or later, a user has the ability to toggle map layers on and off in the PDF. This was leveraged to provide project teams with PDF documents containing multiple layers of related spatial data and the ability to create their own spatial data overlays and printed maps. The map in Figure 2 shows a PDF with eight layers of data available for overlay and printing.

Using innovative approaches such as these, the RDRDI GIS team strives to provide its end users with spatial data in dynamic formats they can easily access and tailor to fit their planning and development needs.

Submitted by Hannah Young, RJI Director of Operations, and Justin Grigg, RJI GIS Specialist. For more information, please contact Justin at RJI is supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

NEW FREE WORKSHOP "Introduction to GIS Web Services"

The New York State Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination (CSCIC) is pleased to announce a new, free workshop, "Introduction to GIS Web Services." The workshop is being offered in coordination with the NYS GIS Coordination Program. This 3-hour workshop introduces attendees to the north americafundamental concepts of GIS web services and raise awareness of the means of leveraging the Internet to utilize geographic data without having to host the GIS data and/or develop necessary tools. Topics to be incorporated in this workshop include explanation of the web services and the basics of data use via web service platforms. Demonstrations will cover the existing methods of integrating GIS data with web services. The workshop will also cover various web service types and their application. In addition, attendees will learn about current New York State (CSCIC, DEC, etc.) programs and available resources for use in the integration of web service and GIS technologies. This is NOT a hands-on GIS developers workshop meant to provide attendees with the technical content on how to build web services. The target audience for this workshop is GIS practitioners and those who would like to understand what web services are and how they can be utilized in the workplace.

Classes will be held at various locations around the state, including Albany, Rochester, Plattsburgh, Syracuse, Long Island, Buffalo & New York City. More information on this workshop will be announced this fall on the NYS GIS Clearinghouse website at:

Due to expected high demand for this workshop, make sure to register on-line early to ensure that seating is available. If you have any questions, feel free to contact John Borst at the NYS Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination at 518-474-5212 or e-mail at

GIS Communications and Outreachphonephone

Looking to find a local GIS Users Group? Interested in contributing to GIS related electronic discussion lists? Then the NYS GIS Clearinghouse Communications webpage has the information that you are looking for. Here, you will find links to many different electronic discussion email lists, as well as links to and contact information for the many GIS user groups across New York State.

NYS GIS Day 2007

Mark your calendars! NYS GIS Day is Wednesday, November 14. A copy of previous New York State GIS Day proclamations can be found online at the NYS GIS Clearinghouse.

An Update on the Report on the National Forum on the
Critical Issues in Geospatial Technology Education

GIS, LEICA, ENVI, ASTER, MODIS, NCGE, LANDSAT, ESRI, GPS, HEG, USGS, NASA, MET, GLOVIS, GLCF, ASPRS, GROUND TRUTH and many other terms and abbreviations became all too familiar to twenty educators with a background in Geographic Information Systems. They were selected to be the first cohort to experience iGETT (Integrated Geospatial Education and Technology Training) and they certainly 'got it' after two weeks at DelMar College in Corpus Christi, Texas.

This is part of a new technological wave that is washing over the world of education, but now the tide has reached the shores of the two year college. Grab your surfboard because you could be in for the ride of your life. The archaic US education system is long overdue for change, from kindergarten to graduate school and this could be your chance to shape that change. The goal of this two week session was to help two year colleges meet geospatial workforce demands and incorporate remote sensing into their GIS programs. The educators almost drowned in a sea of brilliant ideas, new resources, powerful software, motivational guest speakers and skilled program leaders.

globeWhen we arrived in Corpus Christi we were doubtful that two weeks were needed to complete a remote sensing workshop, yet in the end we used every minute of the day, and even put in some overtime at night and on the weekend. Not that it was all work and no play, as we found time to attend a concert on the beach, eat crawfish, watch a baseball game, sail in a boat race, lie around on great beaches and work out at a local fitness center. It may have cost us some time but we were financially supported and rewarded by a large grant given to the National Council for Geographic Education by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technology Education program.

The group experienced presentations from the experts at NASA, USGS and academia on how remote sensing is used in dealing with storms, forest fires, vegetation changes, climate change, agriculture, as well as discovering the range of sensors and satellites currently in orbit. The class was led through several tutorials on processing imagery on the Corpus Christi region then began the search for data and imagery on their own study region, usually near their campus. All of this was compiled into a Learning Unit Proposal which was submitted before we all went home.

Each day began by the staff responding to our feedback from the prior day and it was pleasing to see how much effort they put into meeting individual needs. The group was highly diverse in ethnic origin, age, disciplines, geographic location and in experience with various areas of geospatial technology. If you would like to learn more about the iGETT program you can review it at or you can contact me with questions at Niagara County Community College or at (716-614-6760).

I would encourage you to apply as I was the only person from the north-east and I would enjoy a colleague as a partner, and for when we meet again in June 2008 to initiate the second cohort in the iGETT experience. I did get it, will you? Do not miss the opportunity to experience 'extreme geography'.

Submitted by Robert Lord, Instructor, Niagara County Community College:

GIS Professionals Go Geocaching

man with gpsOn August 14, 2007 members of SynerGIS users group recently attended their very own geocaching event. In an effort to get some of the hands-on geocaching experience that has struck our local region by storm, SynerGIS held an educational lunch hour of fun in the sun for Tompkins area GIS professionals. Recently noted in the Ithaca Times as a new and exciting adventure sport that has caused the creation of approximately 300 caches in Tompkins County and over 1600 within 200 miles of Ithaca, geocaching is one fun side of our profession that GISers often don't experience.

peopleParticipants learned basic navigation techniques using Garmin eTrex Legend GPS units generously loaned from 4-H Geospatial Sciences Program at Cornell Institute for Resource Information Sciences and the Finger Lakes Institute. They successfully navigated around the Cornell University Campus to find various treasures (caches). The event was well organized and successful thanks to the efforts of Cornell IRIS employee and SynerGIS Steering Committee member Susan Hoskins. Thank you to all who participated!

Article & photos submitted by Sue Nixson

NYS GIS Help Desk

The New York State GIS Help Desk, is administered by the NYS Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination and sponsored by the New York State GIS Coordination Program. This web-based help desk is intended to provide support for both general GIS questions and specific questions regarding the technical use of the following GIS software products:help button

Recent enhancements to the GIS Help Desk include those made to the Knowledge Base search function. These include the ability to search for any text in the Subject Line (this is the default option) and/or Answer provided by the Help Desk staff and/or Question originally submitted to the Help Desk. The Knowledge Base search can also be further refined by selecting the version number of the software product (e.g. ArcGIS Desktop: ArcView 9.2, MapInfo Professional 8.5, etc.) Visitors can search the online Knowledge Base to view previously submitted questions and answers or view the Help Desk's most Frequently Asked Questions. Residents of New York State may Submit GIS technical questions which will be answered within one (1) business day. All questions and answers will also be included in the searchable knowledge base. For assistance in the use of the NYS GIS Help Desk, visitors can select Help from the options on the left.

Maintaining the NYS Streets and Address Data Sets

The NYS Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination (CSCIC) continues to update the NYS Streets and Address data sets (available on the NYS GIS Clearinghouse at

Several new enhancements have been made since the last newsletter was published, in particular:

alis updating applicationIn May, CSCIC held six hands-on workshops around the state to give county and local governments the opportunity to see and test out CSCIC's new Map Maintenance, Notification and Tracking (MMNT) application. This web-based application will allow authorized local government users to view the most up-to-date data and submit new streets or update existing street information, including street names, alternate street names, route numbers, and addresses.

The application is expected to go live this fall.

County and local governments that would like more information about MMNT or would like to discuss potential data maintenance partnerships should contact John Borst ( or Cheryl Benjamin (

The geocoding solutions and data sets posted on the NYS GIS Clearinghouse are undergoing continual improvements. Your input on any problems encountered will help us to improve the quality of the data and geocoding solutions for everyone. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments by contacting us at

Submitted by Cheryl Benjamin, NYS Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination:

Results of the 2006-07 NYS GIS Association
Galileo Award Poster Competition

The New York State GIS Association invited all New York State middle and high school students and their teachers, and New York State undergraduate college students and their instructors to participate in the 1st Annual Galileo Award Poster Competition during the 2006-2007 school year. The purpose of the Award is to recognize and reward the outstanding GIS work of New York State students. Posters may be on any subject, but should illustrate the students' use of GIS to effectively communicate a central theme of any classroom topic (e.g. sciences, history, social studies, business, physical education, etc.). The use of Global Position Systems (GPS) in creating the posters was completely acceptable.

Entries will be grouped into the following three categories: grades 6-8, grades 9-12 & collegiate undergraduate.

winning poster

Detailed information about the Galileo Award Poster Competition can be found online at the NYS GIS Association website. Please check this website for updates to the 2007-08 Galileo Award competition and to see the other entries for the 2007-07 competition:

First place entry in the collegiate category was submitted by Brian Morgan of Lehman College, CUNY. Brian's poster illustrated the elevated childhood asthma rates found in the Bronx, NY. Congratulations Brian!

GIS Data Sharing Cooperative Still Growing

up arrowMembership in the NYS Data Sharing Cooperative has shown a steady increase with more and more governmental entities, not-for-profits, and academic institutions signing the Data Sharing Agreement, allowing each other to share their GIS data sets. The number of Cooperative Members is at the time of this publication an all-time high of 720.

How do I Become a Cooperative Member? To learn more about benefits of participating in the NYS GIS Data Sharing Cooperative, visit or contact Sharon Oskam at the NYS Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination at (518) 474-5212 or via e-mail at

Who's Who in GIS

Who's Who in GIS directory is a listing of GIS professionals and their contact information. If you would like to be added to this directory, or if you are currently listed in this directory and wish to update your contact information, please visit the following URL:

Help Shape the Future of NYS GIS

A new Strategic Plan for building New York's Statewide Spatial Data Infrastructure is being developed to ensure that a core set of high quality geospatial data is available to all of New York's GIS stakeholders.

The intent of this plan is to evaluate New York's statewide GIS environment, and then to establish strategies that will help encourage intergovernmental cooperation and coordination. The overall aim is to improve GIS data quality, currency, and accessibility through data sharing. Six planning meetings will be held across New York State. This effort is hosted by the NYS GIS Coordination Program led by the NYS Office of Cyber Security Critical Infrastructure Coordination (CSCIC).

thought cloudsYou do not need to be a GIS users to participate in these planning meetings. While we value input from the existing GIS community, we are also very interested to hear from professionals in other lines of work who can benefit from up to date mapping. These sessions will not be technical in nature. Please participate in determining what is working, and what could be done better.
Your input and ideas are needed!

You can register online for the Strategic Planning meetings by visiting the following URL:

NYS Cadastral Data Standard

The New York State GIS Coordinating Body established the Cadastral Data Work Group (CDWG) in 2004 to address repeated concerns being expressed across the state regarding tax map data usage within a GIS. The concerns regarded the limited availability of current tax map data and the variety of digital formats and data structures used for tax mapping in New York. The group was tasked with developing a digital tax parcel standard that could be voluntarily implemented across the State. Once formed, the CDWG was composed of representatives from State government including the Office of Real Property Services, local assessment, the County Tax Director's Association, County GIS directors, NYCDEP and the private sector.

The CDWG reviewed standards in other states, as well as NYS ORPS parcel requirements and existing FGDC parcel recommendations. They discussed a variety of tax map layers and attributes that might be included in a standard. In the end, it was decided to keep the standard as simple as possible to maximize the likelihood of the standard actually being implemented by the governments maintaining tax maps.

The proposed standard was reviewed by NYS ORPS, the Tax Director's Association, other State agencies and the Coordinating Body Work Groups and Advisory Groups. Comments and suggestions were integrated into the final recommendation, which was adopted by the Coordinating Body at the March 2007 meeting. Several counties and cities have already implemented the Standard while upgrading to current GIS tax map formats.

The NYS GIS Coordinating Body encourages all New York counties to implement the Cadastral Data Standard, which can be found on the GIS Clearinghouse at This will greatly increase the ability to readily share parcel data with other counties as well as regional and State agencies. It will greatly reduce the cost of data management for regional development and environmental protection agencies and many others while providing them with the opportunity to use more current data for better decisions. Many agencies work with outdated data because of the time and cost associated with standardizing diverse parcel data sets for regional GIS applications. As GIS technology becomes more and more integrated with decisions and operations at all levels of government, the availability of standard parcel data across the State will benefit everyone.

A special thanks to the contributors to this issue: Cheryl Benjamin (NYS CSCIC)
Justin Grigg (Alfred University), Rob Lord (Niagara County Community College)
Sue Nixson (City of Ithaca) and John Trimber