Your grant reporting is due, requiring details on your façade grant program. How do you keep track of all those property details and status of the work?

It’s time for the annual holiday parade. How do you inform residents along the parade route of the details for the day?

Election day is coming and your residents need to find their polling places. How can you easily create maps to post or insert with utility bills?

Speaking of utilities, are you enacting stormwater or impervious coverage fees? How will you determine who pays what?

Time for a break ”¦ for your community ”¦ so you’re closing some roads to have a special street party. How do you inform residents, businesses, and the public about the road closure?

The answer to all these questions is three little letters ”“ GIS.

Derck & Edson started exploring geographic information systems (GIS) in 1999 and we’ve been actively using it in projects since 2004. “Geospatial” is a fairly new word (first used in 1970 by the Association of American Geographers) but humans have been creating geospatial information for longer than you might think.

At Derck & Edson, geospatial information underpins how we think about campuses, downtowns, and athletics. A sense of place, literally and figuratively, is the core of what we do.

Let’s talk about geospatial data

There is no question that municipal operations are tied to place. Keeping track of assets, incidents, and operations in real-time is within the reach of local government. If your municipality is not already using geospatial data to track and manage places and things, now is the time to start.

For readers not involved in government, the same terms, concepts, and instructions presented here will apply to anyone that is looking to use geospatial information to manage assets in any type of community or site.

So in the coming months, we’re going to talk about geospatial data. Here’s what you’ll find:

Short topical overviews

Just enough text to kick-start your geospatial thinking. Our next blog topic will be along this vein and answer the question “Why develop municipal geospatial data when we all have Google maps?”

Moderate length Q&A articles

These posts will focus on questions about strategic and operational issues in geospatial projects. An example is the third blog in our series entitled “When is ‘good enough’ really ‘great’?” that will explore the trade-offs between accuracy and cost in developing in-house data.

Longer how-to articles

These step-by-step guides will dive into the details of day to day geospatial tasks. The topics will include “Finding possible rental properties” and “Developing pavement edges from PA DCNR contour data.”

Along the way

We build all of our projects from strong foundations and assume you’ll want to do the same, so we’re building a glossary of geospatial terms for your reference. The definitions won’t be what you’ll find in a text book, but something more digestible and worthwhile for relating geospatial concepts to the world around you and the things you do every day.