Open GIS Technology: Moving Peoria County Forward

Andrew Rand, Peoria County Board

Property taxes. Street maintenance. Crime data. Polling places. GIS technology pulls all this data and more into one place. And now, I'm pleased to announce Peoria County offers this information in a new, free, easier-to-use website.

What is GIS?
GIS stands for geographic information systems. At its most basic level, GIS involves putting data, such as government boundaries and property tax information, into computer software to create a map. Users are then able to interactively explore, manipulate and analyze the digital map.

Peoria County retains IT staff specifically dedicated to GIS services. GIS can be used in a variety of ways: improving communication and decision making, problem solving, data analysis, zoning, querying addresses and property tax information, and more.

Many Peoria County GIS users are other government entities and businesses. Realtors and contractors may look at comparable homes in a neighborhood, historical selling prices, crime data and school districts. However, residents may also find useful information on the website, including property tax information, their polling place, which government body maintains their street, and elected officials in their area.

What is Open GIS?
Peoria County recently launched an open data website for GIS to provide transparency and improve collaboration within the community. This new public website offers citizens and organizations access to interactive maps, digital maps, GIS data and reports. When users access and download GIS datasets and reports, they are obliged by the Peoria County GIS Open Data license agreement.

Anyone can search and download GIS data, digital maps and reports free of charge, without the need to register. Users have the option to review a GIS dataset visually as a table, map or chart. Metadata is also provided which contains descriptive information of how the GIS data was created, such as data source, author, accuracy and methods used.

The interactive maps are app-based and can be viewed on any mobile device or computer. One of the most popular is the Front Desk app, an interactive map that allows users to search and view property tax information, comparable properties, political boundaries, topography, aerial imagery and much more. Free tutorial videos and a training guide are included on the website to help navigate users. The new Peoria County GIS open data website can be accessed at data-peoriacountygis.opendata.arcgis.com.

Up Next: Drones
Next year, Peoria County GIS plans to purchase a drone to assist in updating our map data. Every few years we utilize an outside vendor to fly the entire county and capture aerial photography. With the new drone, we will be able to update areas that have a new bridge, road construction and commercial construction as the projects are completed—and not have to wait years for a complete county flyover.

The drone can also be utilized to assess storm damage that cannot be reached because of flooding or other impairments, assist Peoria County Highway in bridge inspection, and collect imagery on active construction sites. Peoria County is excited to offer this new open GIS website to better serve our residents and businesses, as well as looking ahead to adding drone technology to keep Peoria County moving forward in the field of data management. iBi

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