Gov. Beshear declares October 12th the beginning of GIS Week

Posted on October 12, 2015

The importance of the use of geographic information systems (GIS) for the Commonwealth was highlighted by Gov. Steve Beshear's declaration of October 12-16, 2015 as GIS Week.

The Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP) fosters the understanding and improvement of the management and use of geospatial information throughout the Commonwealth in all levels of government, academia, and the private sector. Continuing its tradition from previous years, KAMP has organized the 22nd Annual Kentucky GIS Conference from October 12-14 in Owensboro.

KAMP President, Lance Morris, said that hundreds of professionals in the geospatial industry from Kentucky and neighboring states are expected to attend the conference. This year's event highlights the use of unmanned aircraft systems and unmanned aerial vehicles in surveying, mapping and emergency response.

Geographic Information Systems are computer-based tools for mapping, analyzing, and understanding our world and the events affecting it, through combining the power of a database with the visualization capabilities offered by maps and web applications. Thus, GIS provides a unifying framework to help resolve complex issues in the fields of environmental protection, pollution control, land use, natural resources management, preservation and conservation.

GIS mapping and information management serve our communities in cities, counties and regions through activities such as transportation, construction, facilities and utilities management, tourism, archaeological and historical preservation, economic development, education, health care, emergency preparedness, response and mitigation planning.

KAMP will also present awards to individuals making significant contributions to the GIS and mapping community, for outstanding services to KAMP, and to an exemplary GIS system implementation, this one presented last year to the Cabinet for Economic Development's Select Kentucky website.

For more information about the 2015 Kentucky GIS Conference, please visit the KAMP website.

 


Website shows heathy progress across US and Kenton County

Posted on October 12, 2015

Work by PDS staff and its partnering organizations continues on Kenton County’s Plan4Health community grant. That work and its results are being made available on a new website that details the $135,000 awarded to the county’s partnering organizations by the American Planning Association with funds from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Awarded to a handful of communities across the country, Plan4Health aims to connect communities by funding work at the intersection of planning and public health. The Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition includes PDS, the Northern Kentucky Health Department, the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, and OKI.

As called for in the group’s application, the various staffs are working to provide access to nutritious food across the county. Current efforts include a countywide assessment of food deserts—underserved neighborhoods with little or no access to healthy food due to mobility, availability, affordability, or a combination of the three. The assessment found a handful of underserved areas located in the urban areas of Kenton County.

Following this assessment, the partners’ work has focused on a corner store initiative that seeks to increase the supply and demand of nutritious food options in urban areas of the county. The program provides stores owners with a number of financial and marking incentives used to accommodate and market healthy food options to customers.

Incentives may include the provision of new equipment or retrofitting the existing layout of the store to accommodate healthy food options. The coalition is currently in the process of approaching targeted store locations and owners in the most underserved areas of the county.

Kenton County Plan4Health partners are excited to connect with community members. If you would like to learn more about the project and all coalitions participating in this initiative, check out the project website and join the national conversation by following #plan4health.

 


Access 30+ pieces of detailed property information with a single click

Posted on October 12, 2015

LINK-GIS’ new map viewer tool was put into service recently. Following an effort to beef up the information available with one click of the mouse, Map Viewer will now serve up numerous levels of property information in a quick, simple, and concise manner.

“One of our top priorities was to pull information from many sources into one list,” said Christy Powell, GISP, PDS’ senior GIS programmer. These data are being pulled from over 30 sources including community information, utility services, inspector contacts, and school and political districts.

“Although this information had been available on the previous version, the new website simplifies the process of getting results,” said Joe Busemeyer, GISP, PDS’ principal GIS programmer, who along with Powell created the new map viewer tool.

Powell and Busemeyer explained how simple the new tool is to use.

From the LINK-GIS homepage, find the Explore LINK-GIS Maps section on the bottom left side of the page (see Figure 1). Type the name or address you’re looking to find, choose the county and search type, then click GO.

The LINK-GIS Map Viewer will open and provide the search results. Click on the intended parcel from the list and get the detailed information along with a map of the property (see Figure 2).

“We created a similar list for flood plain information that includes many items from the FEMA floodplain information in one place,” said Busemeyer.

Access to that information is also a single click away on the water drop icon near the top left of the Map Viewer. Information passed from the Explore LINK-GIS Maps widget on the LINK-GIS homepage will automatically populate that widget.

“I hate having to type the exact same information several times on a website,” said Powell. “This new Map Viewer capability should help with that.”

Powell said that PDS’ programming team will continue to add innovative features to the online mapping options for the LINK-GIS website. In addition to the Map Viewer, there is already a Park Finder website available and a polling place locator in development that are aimed at niche interest groups.

 


Planner elected officer of APA’s New Urbanism Division

Posted on October 12, 2015

Michael Ionna, AICP, PDS principal planner, was notified recently that he was elected treasurer/secretary of the American Planning Association’s (APA) New Urbanism Division. The division is one of the APA’s core groups aimed at bringing together communities of professionals who have shared interests in the many issues related to planning and land use.

The division also provides an area where members have the opportunity to discuss ideas, contribute to national policy work, develop conference sessions, and build beneficial partnerships. The purpose of the New Urbanism Division is to provide planners, public officials, and other decision makers with the information, support, and tools needed to eliminate restrictive conventional development regulations. It also encourages new urbanism patterns to be incorporated in appropriate communities throughout the country.

Ionna ran on a platform centered on promoting the goals and objectives of the division, increasing networking opportunities for members, collaborating with other divisions to establish meaningful relationships, promoting opportunities for continued education, and working to increase division membership.

Following release of the election results, Ionna stated, “During my one year term I look forward to the opportunity to interact with exceptional individuals from all over the country to develop solutions and policies that have an impact on a national and local level.”

“I’m proud of Mike for deciding to pursue this opportunity for service,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “We encourage all staff to become engaged in the professional associations to which they belong—if they’re willing to commit the time necessary. It’s a great way to burnish their professional skills while gaining information and contacts that can help them do their jobs in the best way possible.”

Whichever the case, Gordon concludes, Kenton County benefits from their involvement.

 


GIS staff provides data to KY CMRS Board, brings $1.1M back to NKY

Posted on October 12, 2015

As part of its ongoing collaboration with E9-1-1 dispatch services in Campbell, Kenton, and Pendleton Counties, PDS’ GIS staff recently submitted Public Safety Access Point geographic boundary data to the state. This work by staff will result in $1.1 million in funding flowing from Frankfort to those dispatch centers.

A substantial portion of the cost of providing E9-1-1 service comes from fees paid by those who have a phone. In some areas of the state, the local phone provider collects a land line fee and distributes it directly to the dispatch centers in whose jurisdictions the land lines are located. However, wireless service providers pass the fee revenue on to the state for distribution to the requisite dispatch centers.

“This assessment is required every year by the State’s Commercial Mobile Radio Service Board (CMRS),” said Tom East, GISP, Senior GIS Specialist. “Before the board distributes the cell phone-generated revenue, it needs to know that the local dispatch centers have the ability to locate cellular users within their jurisdictions who call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance. Providing accurate and up-to-date geographic data is a requirement to receive the funding.”

Because PDS’ GIS mapping system is the basis for dispatching emergency services in Campbell, Kenton, and Pendleton Counties, staff is in the best position to address the state’s questions, according to East.

These typically deal with the locations of cell towers as well as the credibility of address data.

“There’s a significant amount of money riding on our answers to the state’s questions,” said East. “LINK-GIS is geared to providing this level of information to the dispatch centers on an ongoing basis. This exercise gives us an opportunity to show the state that we’re maintaining the high standards and timeliness of data necessary for emergency dispatch purposes.”

Dispatch services are provided in Campbell and Pendleton Counties by single, countywide agencies. In Kenton County, these services are provided currently by Kenton County for unincorporated parts of the county and for all cities except Erlanger, Elsmere, and Crescent Springs which are served by Erlanger’s Dispatch Center.

 


Options for future KY536 improvement are awaiting your opinions

Posted on October 12, 2015

An open house meeting earlier this week in Independence provided citizens two options for a new alignment of KY 536 from KY 17 to the Licking River. The meeting was the last in a series of three open houses conducted this year as part of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Government’s (OKI) KY 536 Scoping Study.

Citizens wanting to express their opinions on the two options may do so on the study’s website.

The two options are:

• On-Alignment Alternative: This option proposes to modify and improve the existing roadway and use the existing corridor as much as possible although small sections would be briefly rerouted. This option would follow KY 536 east from KY 17 and shift north onto a new segment as it approaches KY 16 (redirecting traffic north of White’s Tower Elementary School) to realign with KY 536 near Maverick Road. It would continue on until a half mile west of Klein Road, then turn north onto a new alignment that connects directly with the Visalia Bridge. This alternative is planned as a three-lane road a single lane traveling in both directions with a lane in the middle to assist with turns.

• Off-Alignment Alternative: This option follows the existing KY 536 east from KY 17 and shifts north onto a new segment as it approaches KY 16, redirecting traffic north of White’s Tower Elementary School, to realign with KY 536 near Maverick Road. It follows the existing roadway until 0.5 mile west of Staffordsburg Road where it turns north onto a new alignment that connects directly with the existing Visalia Bridge. This alternative is planned as a three-lane road, a single lane traveling in both directions and a lane in the middle to assist with turns between KY 17 and Staffordsburg Road. From Staffordsburg Road to the Campbell County line, this alternative is planned as a two-lane road with the exception of a climbing lane that would be constructed to assist trucks traveling westward from KY 17.

KY 536 Scoping Study project manager Robyn Bancroft said the corridor is recognized regionally as a critical roadway to improve access, mobility and economic vitality across Northern Kentucky.

This segment of the roadway, between KY 17 and the Kenton and Campbell County line, is the only remaining section of the entire corridor that does not have a preferred alternative or improvement plan in place. This segment was left until last because of its fragmented connections, drastic elevation changes, poor sight lines, broad range of environmental factors, and, most importantly, extremely high crash rates.

OKI’s CEO Mark Policinski said the level of public involvement in the study has been “tremendous ... possibly more so than we’ve ever had on a project like this.”

“The study team listened to what the community has said they want and refined the alternatives accordingly,” he said. “While these final two options are very different from each other; one mostly follows the existing roadway while the other would travel along a new route. Both were designed to respect the community’s desire to improve travel safety, minimize impacts to homes and property, and maintain the character of the existing area.”

“It’s important that everyone provide their input on this project,” Bancroft said. “We want to hear from those who live on KY 536, as well as those who travel the corridor and even those who avoid traveling the corridor because of safety and efficiency issues.”

The public comment period ends on November 5. The Scoping Study is scheduled to conclude this fall, once a suitable plan is chosen. The final KY 536 Scoping Study report and documentation will be posted to the website in December, Bancroft concluded.

 


NKYmapLAB receives international recognition at annual Esri conference

Posted on October 08, 2015

An initiative begun in January by two members of PDS’ GIS team achieved considerable attention during the Esri annual conference held recently in San Diego. NKYmapLAB seeks to highlight the wealth of GIS data that have been collected by the LINK-GIS/Kenton County partnership since its inception in 1985. It accomplishes this by publishing a monthly map that highlights these data as they relate to a topic of current discussion.

PDS staff and one of their entries in the “large format printed map” category earned a third place in the international completion.

“Competition for attention to your maps at this annual conference is intense,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “Thousands of maps from across the globe are displayed. To do something that catches the eye of your peers and prompts them to vote for your work is really tough. I’m so proud that work from our GIS professionals was recognized in such a forum.”

Esri (Environmental Systems Research Institute) is an international GIS software company that invites it’s users to share examples of their mapping work at its annual user conference which typically draws 16,000+ GIS professionals from around the world.

The Esri Map Gallery display provides an exciting and vibrant display of the very best in current cartography practices. Approximately the size of two football fields, the exhibit allows users to showcase their talents and work to other conference attendees, and acts as a barometer for the current state of mapping globally.

Map gallery entries must be created with Esri software and submitted by someone who registers for and attends the Esri user conference. The creator(s) of the map must be present for at least one hour during the map gallery opening and evening reception to discuss their maps and answer questions.

This year PDS, under the NKYmapLAB initiative, submitted four map products to be reviewed and voted on by conference attendees and Esri staff. Under the “large format printed map” category, the PDS team of Louis Hill, GISP (Geospatial Data Analyst) Ryan Kent, GISP (Principal GIS Data Analyst) and Trisha Brush, GISP (Director of GIS Administration) received third place.

“This is a huge honor as there were many wonderful and worthy maps submitted,” said Brush. “Over the last year the focus of NKYmapLAB was to battle some of the challenges with big GIS data while addressing three important elements sharing, analysis, and visualization.”

According to Hill, “This recognition is a nice acknowledgement of what we are trying to accomplish: keeping the long-range planning goals of Direction 2030 at the forefront of public discussion and making the general public more aware of the capabilities that GIS can provide to our community.”

Kent added, “To be selected by your peers, who know what you go through to create these maps, is a sort of vindication that you are doing something right. We don’t create maps that just look pretty, they need to tell a story and get a message across. The Esri Map Gallery is the perfect venue to showcase that.”

The NKYmapLAB initiative features eight story maps accompanied with large posters. A story map is a media where mapping professionals can combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. All published NKYmapLAB maps are stored here for your review and use.


Code enforcement issues, resolutions being pursued at record rates

Posted on August 28, 2015

PDS zoning officials provide code enforcement services for 15 jurisdictions covering approximately 135 square miles in Kenton County. The purpose of code enforcement is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents by enforcing each municipality’s codes in an efficient, consistent, and fair manner.

Since March 1 of this year, PDS zoning officials have opened 561 new code enforcement cases and closed 448 cases. Averaging five new cases per day, PDS staff has maintained a near 80 percent abatement rate for code violations.

“PDS code enforcement efforts are complaint based,” said Dennis Uchtman, PDS’ codes administrator. “As such, not every ‘wrong’ constitutes a code violation.”

PDS will continue to address issues in a prompt, professional manner while encouraging voluntary compliance and responsible property maintenance practices. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact PDS offices at 859.331.8980.


LINK-GIS maps now useable on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices

Posted on August 28, 2015

Stating the obvious, time flies in the world of technology. In the six years since the last major update of the LINK-GIS website, many things in the world of technology have changed. Back then the iPhone was on its 3G release. Android devices had been on the market for less than a year. And, the iPad didn’t exist yet.

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone now. A majority of these adults use mobile devices to get directions and other location-based information.

Until now, the 2009 version of the LINK-GIS map viewer didn’t function on mobile devices.

Recent technological advances have enabled LINK-GIS to migrate from the older Flash player based platform to a newer JavaScript based mobile-friendly platform. The overall look and feel of the map viewer on the new JavaScript platform is similar to the old Flash platform, but with even easier access to information.

Additionally, the new technology allows for the creation of customized, specialty maps such as PDS’ new Park Finder application. This new app helps users find information about parks and recreation in just a couple clicks. More map specific applications are on the horizon.

“The new map viewer function of the LINK-GIS website is heads and shoulders above what we’ve been able to provide in the past,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “And, while that’s noteworthy in and of itself, the fact of which I’m most proud is that our GIS staff built it from scratch, in-house—and that took a lot of programming to accomplish.”

The new LINK-GIS map viewer is located here. PDS’ new Park Finder Application is located here.

LINK-GIS’ “Classic” map viewer will still be available to the public for a limited time so users can get acclimated to the functionality of the new JavaScript map viewer. In the coming months, PDS will hold several events to showcase the new map viewer and specialty mapping applications.

Information about these events will be available on the LINK-GIS website.


PDS Council approves FY16 budget; okays “compensating” tax rate

Posted on August 28, 2015

PDS’ budget for Fiscal Year 2016 continues a number of trends related to both revenues and expenditures for the organization. Those trends were highlighted for PDS Council members last month during the discussion that led to them approving it.

One elected representative from each of Kenton County’s 20 local governments makes up the PDS Council. These officials serve in a role defined by statute to “provide more effective representation of the various governmental units” participating in the organization’s operations. Among the group’s responsibilities is the review and approval of an annual budget and the tax rate that funds a majority of it.

According to Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director, the organization’s new fiscal year budget “continues a trend the PDS Management Board initiated in FY08 and accelerated in FY10.”

“Because a good deal of the services PDS provides is driven by the economy, our budget reflects to some extent the ups and downs of the regional economy,” asserted Gordon. “Our Fiscal Year 2008 budget for example was our largest as the Great Recession took hold of everything. All budgets since then—including Fiscal Year 2016’s—have been varying numbers smaller than 2008’s”

Like most of those, FY16’s budget is being funded primarily through a “compensating tax rate” or less according to Gordon. A compensating rate is the rate that produces the same revenue as was produced by the previous year’s tax rate. The bottom line of a compensating rate budget is theoretically the same as the previous year’s assuming no other source(s) of revenue.

Among the many trends Gordon illustrated for the elected officials was an overall decrease in the budget’s bottom line.

“This new fiscal year budget is only a little larger than our Fiscal Year 2005 budget,” said Gordon. “This represents a meager ten percent budget increase over the past ten years—or put another way—an average annual increase of just one percent.”


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