GIS Department

Articles about NKAPC's geographic information systems department and their map-related projects. NO Image:

Fiscal Court declares GIS Day in Kenton County

Posted on December 22, 2017

Kenton County Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann and County Commissioners Beth Sewell, Jon Draud, and Joe Nienaber presented PDS staff with a GIS proclamation during their November 14, 2017 Fiscal Court meeting. The proclamation recognized Wednesday, November 15, 2017 as GIS Day in Kenton County.

Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, Geospatial Data Analyst, and Ryan Hermann, Associate GIS Specialist, attended the Fiscal Court meeting to accept the proclamation on behalf of PDS.

According to Hermann, “GIS Day is our single largest education and outreach event of the year. This year the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology hosted our event and we were able to discuss GIS, mapping, analysis, programming, and UAV/drone technologies with over 400 students.”

GIS (geographic information systems) is the mapping and analysis technology that PDS/LINK-GIS provides to the citizens, governments, and agencies in Kenton, Campbell, and Pendleton Counties.

For additional information about PDS’ GIS outreach offerings, email Ryan Hermann or Louis Hill, or call either of them at 859.331.8980.


PDS services now include photography from ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’

Posted on December 22, 2017

PDS recently added video and photography capabilities from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to the services available to all Kenton County jurisdictions. Photos, videos, ortho-mosaics, 3D renderings, elevation profiles, volume calculations, digital terrain models, digital surface models, emergency services, accident reconstructions, and search and rescue flights are now available through its One Stop Shop Program.

Utilizing the UAV and Esri products such as Dron2Map, PDS can assist Kenton County communities create up-to-date imagery for small areas. Drone2Map allows for quick turnaround time—sometimes in as little as a day—of products such as ortho-mosaics.

PDS has a Typhoon H, a hexacopter produced by Yuneec. The Typhoon H is equipped with a 4K video and 12-megapixel camera. It is capable of flying 400 feet high (the maximum height allowed by law) and can fly up to a mile away from the pilot. Associate GIS Specialist Ryan Hermann, PDS’ UAV operator, is a certified remote pilot having achieved his license in May 2017 becoming one of the first government-operated UAV pilots in the Greater Cincinnati Area.

If you have questions about the rules and regulations, UAV products, projects, or general UAV questions, email Ryan Hermann or call him at 859.331.8980.


LINK-GIS is an ever-growing treasure trove of geospatial data

Posted on December 22, 2017

LINK-GIS is all about data. Thirty-two years’ worth of data. Fourteen terabytes of data… a number that grows incrementally each day as the world changes around us.

Consider this:
·       
Over 2017 PDS processed 954 building permits; each new building prompts changes to GIS data.
·       
PDS inspected 7,540 linear feet of surface asphalt and 2,525 linear feet of concrete streets during 2017; each foot of new pavement prompts changes to GIS data.
·       
Staff filled over 1,880 public and private requests for data and maps during 2017. It also sold over 60 gigabytes of digital data.
·       
The linkgis.org website serves 13,159 users monthly; 6,088 of those users are unique.

When you look around your neighborhood and community and see change happening, understand that that change will prompt LINK-GIS to update its data.

“We make it easy for people to use our portal to download digital data,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS Administration at PDS. “You can also browse the map gallery with downloadable maps and review our fee schedule on-line. With over 300+ layers to choose from, you will be sure to find some data you just can’t live without.”

For more information about purchasing maps, data, or analyses, visit the LINK-GIS website, email Trisha Brush, or call her at 859.331.8980.


GIS staff takes on keeping RoW management data up to date

Posted on November 27, 2017

PDS’ GIS staff believes so strongly in the capabilities of a software program that it’s committed to inputting local data to help Kenton and Campbell jurisdictions save precious tax dollars. Staff members are reaching out now to the counties, the municipalities, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for their 2018 pavement projects so they can be uploaded to the LINK-GIS right-of-way management tool by Accela.

Once online, these project data can be viewed alongside maintenance project data entered by SD1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, Duke Energy, Owen Electric, Spectrum, and Cincinnati Bell. The goal is to increase communication and coordination for street cuts and paving projects. The result will cut down frustrations felt by the motoring public, decrease the need for pavement cuts, and ultimately save taxpayer and rate payer dollars through cooperative construction efforts.

“All participating entities will be able to see each other’s current and upcoming projects through the software program’s central dashboard. This will illustrate conflicts and opportunities to work together,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, PDS’ director for GIS administration. “Unfortunately, the system is only as good as the data that are put into it.”

“To make sure the software program functions effectively, PDS staff will input local governments’ and utilities’ projects for next season as soon as we receive them,” Brush said.

Kyle Ryan, Coordinating Engineer with the Northern Kentucky Water District commented, “Coordinating water main replacement with planned roadway improvements reduces restoration costs and helps protect the cities’ roadway investments from potential damage caused by breaks and routine maintenance of aging infrastructure.”

“It can also provide our customers with better water service because these projects often produce increased flows for the cities’ fire departments. And, it can relieve traffic congestion for residents who are burdened with one combined construction period verses two separate projects spread over several years,” concluded Ryan.

Email Trisha Brush or call her at 859.331.8980 for more information on the software program or PDS’ efforts to save local tax dollars.


NKYmapLAB product highlights Latonia ‘complete street’ proposal

Posted on November 27, 2017

The newest NKYmapLAB project explores ‘complete street’ improvements along Winston Avenue in Covington’s Latonia neighborhood. The project was released as part of National Community Planning Month, which is celebrated each October by the American Planning Association and its 50,000+ members.

A ‘complete street’ is designed to accommodate all modes of travel: bicyclists, pedestrians, mass transit, and motorized vehicles. Important sections of Winston Avenue do not accommodate pedestrians well currently.

Winston Avenue starts at Ritte’s Corner and extends south to the Latonia Centre commercial and retail strip development near Howard Litzler Drive. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has determined that Winston Avenue needs full-depth pavement replacement. Resurfacing the road will not be adequate to meet current and future transportation needs.

The complete street approach supports one of the goals of the Latonia Small Area Study; to “increase the pedestrian and bicycle amenities within the corridor, without disrupting the volume of traffic the roadway can accommodate.”

This mapLAB project explores current non-automobile conditions along Winston Avenue, the major destinations and areas that generate pedestrian traffic, and investments made in placemaking by the Center for Great Neighborhoods over the last several years. It also includes several brief video interviews highlighting key concepts of the proposed improvements.

"Winston Avenue is one of the gateways into Covington. It has unique opportunities and challenges with industrial and commercial uses on one side and residential uses on the other. Instead of using Winston Avenue as a border between the two, the complete street approach facilitates its use as a bridge,” said Ryan Kent, GISP, Principal GIS Data Analyst.

“I expect that the investments made in placemaking by the Center for Great Neighborhoods will continue to strengthen the neighborhood as a destination for people. With the upcoming branding efforts, I’m excited to see how the region responds to Latonia as it becomes more visible and more accessible from a non-automobile perspective,” said Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, Geospatial Data Analyst with PDS.

For more information about the project, email Louis Hill or Ryan Kent or call them at 859.331.8980. NKYmapLAB is available online and on Twitter @NKYmapLAB.


Maintaining master address database is critical and frustrating work

Posted on November 27, 2017

Have you ever mistakenly received someone else’s mail or had a package delivered that wasn’t yours because your address was similar to the address on the label? Does your street name end in “Drive” while another identically-named street ends in “Road”? These are just two of many addressing situations causing problems for people every day.

Addresses are important, and therefore need to be correct, unique, and easily located. Otherwise, duplications or similarities in spelling or pronunciation can confuse even the most experienced people who deal with them every day.

In an emergency when emotions run high, the difference between “Byrd Road” and “Bird Road” can be the difference between life and death.

“Keeping address records up to date can be frustrating because there is no single, authoritative, and comprehensive list on which to base them,” said Tom East, a senior GIS specialist with PDS. “There are dozens, if not hundreds, of address lists maintained by different agencies, organizations, and companies, each with its own unique way of recording addresses.”

These different lists typically have large numbers of addresses in common, but they will also have a smaller number of addresses that are unique to their needs and purposes, which are not likely to be found in other lists.

“Trying to collect all of a community’s unique addresses in a single location is a challenging and time-consuming task,” said East. “It’s made more difficult because these address lists rarely get shared or distributed to others to use.”

PDS staff—primarily Tom East—has built and maintained a master address database for Kenton County over the past ten years. All addresses in it have been standardized to correct road misspellings, to replace incorrect suffixes (like “Rd” instead of “Dr”), and to fix transposed numbers (like “5590” instead of “5509”) along with many other issues. The database does not contain information beyond addresses.

Staff has also standardized all addresses to meet the US Postal Service’s suggested formatting guidelines. This standard doesn’t dictate what a street is named, it just recommends a standard way to write it for improving mail delivery. Millions of companies across the US use this standard every day to provide products and services to the American public.

“We’re confident enough now with the accuracy of our data that we intend to start reaching out and sharing it with those who’ll benefit from it,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director of PDS. “We’ve invested a lot of work in this project and it’s time to begin seeing a return on investment… not just for PDS and its member local governments but for all of Kenton County.”

Keeping these data up to date is a critical and never-ending job that can require hours of research and field work to verify. Changes to the database occur every day according to East.

When staff finds road names that need to be corrected, based on official records likes plats or city or county ordinances, they update the information ensuring that the data is consistent, correct, and complete.

When a new address is discovered, it is verified and then added to the database. When a house or building is torn down, the address is not deleted but is marked “Retired” if the property no longer requires it. In this way, a record of previous address is maintained.

“These changes are documented literally every day at PDS,” concluded East. “We see it as a necessity for the provision of services to citizens.”

For more information on Kenton County’s master address database, email Tom East or call him at 859.331.8980.


Two staffers elected to posts at the state and national levels

Posted on September 28, 2017
Two PDS staff members were honored earlier this month with votes of professional affirmation from their peers. Jeff Bechtold, Senior Building Official, and James Fausz, AICP, Long-Range Planning Manager, were elected to positions of leadership within their professional spheres.

Bechtold was re-elected to a three-year term as director at large of the International Codes Council (ICC). The ICC Board of Directors is comprised of 18 public safety professionals, building and fire, who volunteer to serve. The ICC and its family of organizations promote building safety and are the referenced building and fire codes in all 50 states; ICC codes form the basis of the Kentucky Building Code. The ICC is a member-driven organization consisting of 66,000 members and over 360 International, regional, state and local chapters.

Fausz was elected president-elect of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-Kentucky). He will serve as president-elect for one year, president for two years, and past president for one year. The American Planning Association includes 35,000 members from over 100 countries. Its governing structure includes 47 chapters throughout the US and 21 divisions that embrace the wide range of planning. The Kentucky Chapter brings together practitioners, planning officials, students, and interested citizens into a single and stronger community forum.

“NKAPC/PDS has a long and very distinguished history of service to its various disciplines,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director—himself a past president of APA-Kentucky and -Indiana and a former member of the APA Board of Directors. “I know from personal experience that these positions take a lot of personal time. But, I can say truthfully that my employing agencies and I got more out of those commitments than anyone can ever comprehend fully.”

Bechtold and Fausz join another PDS staffer, Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, Geospatial Data Analyst, who was elected President of the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP). Read about Hill’s election here.

For APA-Kentucky and KAMP, these recent elections bring their presidencies full circle to where the organizations began. Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS Administration, helped found and served as KAMP’s first president. Former executive director Bill Bowdy, FAICP, helped to found and served as APA-Kentucky’s first president.

Other PDS staff members giving back to their professions currently are: Steve Lilly, PLS, GISP, Land Surveying Analyst at PDS, is a member of the Kentucky Association of Professional Land Surveyors Board of Directors and is the organization’s liaison with KAMP; Brian Sims, CBO, Chief Building Official at PDS, sits on the Board of Directors of the Code Administrators’ Association of Kentucky; John Lauber, Senior Building Official, and Gary Forsyth, Associate Building Official, sit on the board of directors of the Northern Kentucky Building Inspectors’ Association. 

GIS story map provides focus for state legislative hearing

Posted on July 27, 2017

Recent Northern Kentucky mapLAB products were a focal point during the June 7th meeting of the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology. The electronic story map and accompanying poster product highlight the 11.5-mile-long Riverfront Commons trail in Northern Kentucky.

“We worked carefully with Southbank Partners and Strategic Advisors to create and release this project by the end of March, between the awarding of construction bids and the start of on-ground trail improvements,” said Louis Hill, GISP, AICP, Geospatial Data Analyst with PDS. “The legislative forum provided an opportunity to use mapLAB products to build support among state legislators for future funding from state agencies.”

The public legislative forum was held at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. NKYmapLAB projects delve into new subjects each month, exposing audiences to geo-based analyses that inform and engage their audiences.

Riverfront Commons is an 11.5-mile uninterrupted walking, running, and biking trail that links Northern Kentucky’s six river cities – Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, and Fort Thomas – to the City of Cincinnati and other regional trail systems. It is the signature project of Southbank Partners, a community and economic development organization that supports these river cities.

The Riverfront Commons story map provides a resource-rich interactive map that shows users which portion of the trail has been completed, which is being built this year, and which is planned for the future. There are numerous images, links, points-of-interest, reports, and design documents available through the story map.

When finished, Riverfront Commons will seamlessly connect Northern Kentucky’s six river cities with the City of Cincinnati via the Purple People Bridge, the pedestrian-only bridge spanning the Ohio River.

The trail also will connect with other local trails systems such as Licking River Greenway along the Licking River in Covington and the Devou Park Backcountry Trails in that city, the Tower Park Trails in Fort Thomas, and the Ohio River Bike Trail, which will ultimately connect with the Little Miami Scenic Trail that runs through five counties in southwestern Ohio.

For additional information about this or other story maps, contact Louis Hill. NKYmapLAB is available online and on Twitter @NKYmapLAB.

Questions about the Riverfront Commons trail, estimated completions dates, Manhattan Harbour, future trail locations, and project financing should be directed to Southbank Partners.

 


GIS data being merged with Minecraft—yes THAT Minecraft

Posted on June 30, 2017

Fifty-five million people a month play the video game sensation Minecraft. Created and designed by Swedish game designer Notch Persson, and later fully developed and published by Mojang, its creative and building aspects enable players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D-generated world. Soon, players will be able to use Kenton County as a base for their creative talents.

With guidance from GIS staff, Ethan Paff, a recent graduate of Scott High School and Kenton County Academies’ Bio Medical program, created a block-by-block Minecraft replica of Kenton County that will be available to the public soon.

“Ethan suggested building Kenton County in Minecraft shortly after he arrived last fall,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, Executive Director of PDS. “He’d spent time with our GIS staff and recognized quickly that he could create Kenton County within the digital world of Minecraft. As we discussed what benefits we’d realize from his efforts, we quickly came to the conclusion that the video game would help children understand the value of GIS.”

Gordon says it took Paff most of the school year to merge GIS data into the Minecraft realm, working several hours a week on it. He’s working part-time this summer on the project, attempting to complete the Kenton County base before he heads for Brown University this fall.

In recent years Minecraft has been used to teach children math, environmental science, and programming. Paff’s project will help the public understand how to view their county, how they can work to alter their surroundings, and how to plan better communities.

Minecraft is an open world sandbox video game where players can build, create, and change the world around them. It’s played by people of all ages with a core demographic under 21. With over 100 million registered users worldwide, it is the second bestselling video game of all time, falling behind only to Tetris.

Staff expects the full version of Minecraft/Kenton County to be released by the end of this summer. For more information on this project contact Ryan Hermann at rhermann@pdskc.org.

Summer interns and co-op students help get the work done

Posted on June 30, 2017
When you think of summer you think of going to the beach, swimming, picnics and eating al fresco. But if you’re a high school or college student you think about summer jobs or internships. PDS is supporting students this summer with employment for four special student interns.

Two of PDS’ interns have joined staff for a second time. Aileen Lawson is a student from the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning who is again working with the PDS’ planning staff. She says, “The Planning and Zoning department here serves such a wide variety of work, from small area studies to Kenton County Planning Commission issues to day-to-day services for all of Kenton County’s jurisdictions. My experience here has been so diverse; I’ve gotten a richer experience that will serve me well when I enter the workforce after graduation.”

Also returning is Mitchell Masarik, a recent graduate from the University of Louisville’s GIS program. He said, "When I first started at PDS last summer I was nervous and anxious as I began my first few days in the office. However, after meeting and getting to know staff members, I immediately felt at home and that I was truly part of something bigger than myself, a team, striving to give the best products and services to the customers that we serve.”

He goes on to say, “I can honestly say that thanks to PDS and its amazing staff I’m constantly putting my skills to the test in new scenarios and never feeling left out of the overall conversation of success that our team tries to deliver on a daily basis."

The other two interns are first timers to PDS. Dillion Rhodus, a GIS intern, attends Virginia Tech and is trying Cincinnati on for size with thoughts of relocating here after graduation. Many say that Cincinnati is a “hungry” city for new talent, according to Rhodus.

"I’m very excited to be working with LINK-GIS this summer. I’m eager to not only apply my skills that I've learned at Virginia Tech but also to see what I can contribute to the team and how I can grow as an individual through this opportunity,” states Dillon about his internship with PDS.

Ethan Paff, a recent graduate from Scott High School and Kenton County Academies’ Bio Medical program, is pursuing his first paid internship out of school in GIS. Ethan will be heading to Brown University in the fall. Paff said, "Having an internship means having the ability to experiment with one's own future, to walk several paths before deciding on one."

The real work and résumé builders that PDS interns are pursuing consists of many projects; addressing, land use inventories, small area studies, rights-of-way and easements, and economic development to name a few. “Having interns is essential for PDS to help us learn how to bridge our demographic gaps in reaching our audience,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS Administration.

While working closely with our staff, interns receive on-the-job training and knowledge. In turn, PDS gains different perspectives and fresh ideas that help bridge the generational gaps.

All in all, having interns join staff offers new energy and awareness as PDS does its share to contribute to the workforce readiness movement.

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