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NYS ITS GIS Program Office

Geographic Information Systems Clearinghouse

Geographic Information Systems Technology News

The Newsletter of the New York State
GIS Coordination Program

A Service of the NYS Office For Technology
NYS GIS Clearinghouse:
Winter/Spring 1999
Volume 1, Issue 1

Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves!

Welcome to the Geographic Information Systems Technology News (GIST), New York State's GIS newsletter. Read GIST to find out about:

We plan to publish two issues this year - this one and one in late summer. We'll also post the newsletter electronically on the Clearinghouse website and over GISNY-L, the electronic discussion list.

Please call 518-486-3580 or e-mail with your suggestions or comments.

We would like to thank those who worked on this first issue: Clearinghouse and Communications Work Group (especially Sharon Oskam and Mary Redmond from the State Library, and John Merola from Geographic Data Link). We'd also like to thank Dr. Jack Eichenbaum, New York City GISMO newsletter, for sharing his expertise.

GIS Program Plans a Banner 1999

1999 looks to be an exciting year for GIS in New York State as more GIS datasets become available on-line. (We encourage everyone to investigate this simple method of data distribution.) Here's what you can expect this year:

USGS Digital Raster Graphics
We've got the year off to a good start by making USGS Digital Raster Graphics (DRGs - the U.S. Geological Survey's scanned versions of their maps) available to all for viewing and downloading via the New York State GIS Clearinghouse. Check out their website at Thanks to the NYS Department of Health for their donation of the data.

Coming Soon On-Line
Coming soon to the Clearinghouse from other State agencies:

In 1999, interns will be working with agencies to create metadata for their datasets that will be posted to the Clearinghouse's metadata repository. We're also planning to present free metadata workshops across the State (see page 3 of this issue of GIST for details on the first two workshops - Capital District and Long Island).

We Need You!
The success of the GIS Coordination Program depends on participation from across the State and from all sectors (local government, the private sector, and State agencies). We are trying to make the Program meet everyone's needs. If you are using GIS (or considering using GIS), we'd appreciate your participation.

"One-Stop Shopping" for GIS Data

Looking for information about GIS metadata and data sets for New York State, its counties or regions? Activities of GIS user groups across the State? Education, training, and conference opportunities?

You can find all this, plus a lot more GIS-related information, on the New York State GIS Clearinghouse website. You can also use the Clearinghouse to get to Cornell University's Geospatial Information Repository (CUGIR), a source of GIS data on natural features relevant to agriculture, ecology, natural resources, and human-environment interactions.

Congratulations to New York State Library (State Education Department), Clearinghouse host, for an outstanding job of making GIS information easily available.

Check out the Clearinghouse website at and see why it was a 1998 Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Exemplary Systems in Government award winner.

Are You a Coop Member?

If you are a government or non-profit agency with an interest in GIS, we invite you to join the NYS GIS Data Sharing Cooperative. Membership is free, and ownership of GIS data is not a requirement.

When you join the Cooperative, you will be able to borrow GIS data from any member for no more than the cost of distribution. And you can still distribute your own GIS data outside the Cooperative if you choose.

As of January 31, 1999, 145 government and non-profit agencies have joined the Cooperative. There have been almost 10,000 uses of GIS datasets.

Government membership is not only for State agencies. Counties, towns, villages, and regional planning commissions have joined. There are even members from other States and the Federal government.

To learn more about benefits of participating in the NYS GIS Data Sharing Cooperative, visit:

Need a Contact?

The Clearinghouse maintains a listing of participants in the NYS GIS Coordination Program (with phone/fax/e-mail) at Got a good idea or an issue that needs addressing? Let them know.

Mark Your Calendar

Metadata Training Sessions offered by the NYS Office for Technology. Each session from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Free. Further information available from Ms. Terry Remillard, OFT, (518) 473-5622 or e-mail her at

February 23rd - USGS Water Resources Division, 425 Jordan Road, RPI Technology Park, Troy, NY
February 25th - HL Denison Building, Hauppauge, Long Island, NY
April 1999 - Additional workshops will be held in Westchester, Buffalo, & Plattsburgh

Also of interest:
March 2nd - Capital District MapInfo Users Group. MapInfo Bldg. 2, 2 Global View Drive, Troy, NY. 5:00 p.m.
For further information contact John Merola at
March 11-14th - National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) 1999 Mid-Year Meeting. Chicago, Marriott O'Hare, Chicago, IL.
For more information:
June 7-9th - 1999 National Geodata Forum, Washington, D. C.
For more information:
June 8th - GIS/ SIG 8 th Annual Spatial/ Digital Mapping Conference. Four Points Sheraton, Rochester, NY.
For more information: or e-mail Jeff Volpe at
October 4-5th - Annual New York State GIS Conference. Turf Holiday Inn, Albany, NY.
For more information:

Digital Orthophotography Completed on Long Island!

The NYS Department of State's Division of Coastal Resources has completed development of a digital orthophotography base covering 500 square miles of the south shore of Long Island. The product provides an accurate (within 4 feet) presentation of features captured using color-infrared photography in the spring of 1994 by the National Aerial Photography Program. The data are currently used to detect and map natural resources, including tidal wetlands; confirm or verify land use and condition; provide an accurate shoreline for erosion monitoring, and provide a real world backup to enhance interpretation of vector-based information. For more on this project, see the NYS GIS Clearinghouse or contact Tom Hart, NYS Dept. of State, 41 State St., Albany, NY 12231-0001 (518) 473-2465.

What is This Thing Called Digital Orthophotography?

Ever wonder about the difference between conventional aerial photographs and digital orthophoto quadrangles? Check out this excerpt from the U. S. Geological Survey's USGS Digital Orthophoto Quadrangles (Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 1994):

A conventional aerial photograph contains image displacements caused by camera lens distortion, camera tip and tilt, terrain relief, and scale. An aerial photograph does not have a uniform scale, therefore, is not a map. The effects of camera tilt and terrain relief are removed through a rectification process to create a computer file referred to as a digital orthophoto. A digital orthophoto is a uniform scale photographic image and can be considered a photographic map. The uniform scale of a digital orthophoto makes it possible to determine map measurements or to overlay information, using the digital orthophoto as a base map. Features are represented in their true ground position, making direct measurement of distance, areas, angles, and positions possible. Because it is a photographic image, the digital orthophoto displays features that may be omitted or generalized on other cartographic maps. This makes the digital orthophoto valuable as a layer in a geographic information system or as a tool for revision of other materials such as digital line graphs and topographic maps.

The aerial photography used as the primary source in the production of 1-meter digital orthophotos is quarter-quadrangle centered (3.75 minutes of latitude by 3.75 minutes of longitude in geographic extent) and taken at an aircraft altitude of approximately 20,000 feet above mean terrain, using a 152-millimeter focal-length camera. This photography is approximately 1:40,000 scale.

Are You in This Picture?

The New York State GIS Coordination Program relies on the participation of government and the private sector to provide direction and coordination for the use of GIS technology in New York State. Under the guidance of the NYS Office for Technology, the Coordinating Body works with over 120 representatives from local, Federal, and State government and the private sector.

Six work groups are addressing such diverse areas as data coordination and standards, legal issues, digital orthos, education, finance, and clearinghouse/communications. Advisory groups from the private sector, local and State government review recommendations from these work groups and act as forums to discuss issues from these sectors.

The GIS Coordination Program welcomes volunteers who want to participate in the Program's work. If you are interested, please call (518) 443-2042 or e-mail at the NYS Office for Technology.

Wanted: Private Sector Participants

While much attention has been given during the first two years of the Coordination Program to government agencies, we're also looking at the Coordination Program's involvement with the private sector.

Private sector participation in the Program continues on the Coordinating Body, the various work groups, and the Private Sector Advisory Group. And workshops, like those on metadata training, are free to all.

But we'd like to do more!

We're looking for other people who are interested in participating in work groups or the private sector advisory group. We also want to begin to explore potential public/ private partnerships for GIS-related projects.

Those interested should call Bruce Oswald at (518) 443-2042 or e-mail:

Kudos... the NYS GIS Clearinghouse which welcomed its 30,000th visitor on January 19, 1999!

Congratulations to the staff of the New York State Library, as well as to all of you who contributed time, energy, ideas, data, and metadata to the Clearinghouse.