GIS Department

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

NKYmapLAB completes second year, shows number of successes

Posted on February 02, 2017
The Northern Kentucky Map Lab (NKYmapLAB) initiative completed its’ second year last month, having produced 23 high-quality poster map displays and online Story Maps. It has also increased the community’s—and the world beyond—awareness of the rich data that have been created within LINK-GIS and the analytical opportunities it has created. And, it’s won several awards.

Story Maps are online multi-media applications that allow users to interact with maps, images, videos, embedded websites, and other documents (think PDFs).

“From the beginning, NKYmapLAB’s goal was to highlight the analytical value of what’s been created within this GIS system,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of PDS. “Thirty years of diligent work has gone into this system. That effort has fostered tremendous capabilities to further the goals of this community. To the extent that those capabilities aren’t utilized, that work has been rendered meaningless.”

“NKYmapLAB takes the system’s data, applies them to a current issue of interest, and illustrates the results in formats that can foster community discussion. These past two years’ successes prove the value and capabilities built into this GIS.”

NKYmapLAB projects help local leaders and citizens better understand issues affecting Kenton County, while highlighting the analytic capabilities of LINK-GIS. Some of the topics covered in recent analyses include the following.

- Trails
- Landslides
- 2012 Piner Tornado
- Morning View Heritage Area
- Farmer’s Markets of NKY
- Accela/ROW Management
- Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood
- Beyond the Curb – Ludlow tour
- Turkeyfoot Road – Thomas More Parkway Realignment
- Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK)

The NKYmapLAB team consists primarily of two GIS professionals, Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, Geospatial Data Analyst, and Ryan Kent, GISP, Principal Geospatial Analyst. The two and other PDS staff as needed have chosen topics each month that would prove useful to the public and its elected officials.

No two projects are alike. Successful projects, however, create demand for similar products. In December 2015 NKYmapLAB had just completed analytical products regarding a Buttermilk-Orphanage intersection realignment project for the City of Fort Mitchell. Armed with the Story Map and poster from this project, city officials were able to bring back $250,000 in much-needed design funds from the General Assembly for this project. This very successful result caught the attention of other jurisdictions prompting the Turkeyfoot Road NKYmapLAB project in November 2016.

Hill and Kent have been proud to share their work with GIS users from around the nation, having been selected for several recent presentation opportunities.

- A presentation at the 2016 ESRI International Users Conference in San Diego.
- A presentation at the 2016 Kentucky GIS Conference in Covington.
- A live technical webinar, produced and hosted by the American Planning Association, showing attendees how to build their own Story Map.

The NKYmapLAB initiative was recognized with a first place finish in the Map Gallery at the 2016 Kentucky GIS Conference. NKYmapLAB submitted and displayed ten of their analytical products at the 2016 ESRI International Users Conference. Several of those are now under consideration for publication in Vol. 32 of the upcoming ESRI Map Book.

The American Planning Association (APA) featured NKYmapLAB’s Story Map of Covington’s Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood during its October celebration of National Community Planning month. APA had selected the neighborhood several years ago as one of its “Great Neighborhoods” in America.

“Being able to share some of the exciting things going on in this community and communicating the resulting analyses to people is what has made NKYmapLAB so successful,” stated Kent.

Hill added that “the third year of NKYmapLAB is underway and we’re exploring new partnerships and new project opportunities. We feel confident that we’ll be able to continue delivering useful data and analyses that can contribute to the data-driven discussions we’re promoting within the community.”

Email Louis Hill or Ryan Kent or call them at 859.331.8980 with questions or suggestions. NKYmapLAB is available online and on Twitter @NKYmapLAB.

LINK-GIS represents two collaborative partnerships. The first includes Kenton County Fiscal Court, Sanitation District #1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and PDS. The second includes Campbell County fiscal Court, the Campbell County Property Valuation Administrator, Sanitation District #1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and PDS.


GIS staffer prepares for presidency of state mapping organization

Posted on February 02, 2017
Louis Hill, AICP, GISP, a geospatial data analyst with PDS was elected recently to be the next president of the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP). He will serve on the KAMP board for three years, in the role of president-elect in 2017, president in 2018 and past-president in 2019.

“KAMP continues to experience growth in its membership… which is great but can also present challenges,” said Hill. “We need to make sure that we continue to offer training, networking opportunities, and services to our members that they can’t find anywhere else.”

The Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals was formed to:

1.    foster the understanding and improvement of the management and use of geospatial information throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky in all levels of government, academia, and the private sector; and

2.    provide a mechanism for dialogue and education regarding geospatial information issues of concern or interest to all Kentucky professionals involved in the collection, processing, analysis, use, and maintenance of geospatial information.

To further this mission, KAMP provides an annual series of low-cost and no-cost training options throughout Kentucky. The event formats vary, but they are typically webinars, formal presentations and hands-on trainings conducted by distinguished industry speakers.

“The geospatial and mapping industry is expected to see above average growth over the next decade,” according to Hill. “We want to be able to keep our membership at the front of that trend.”

This year’s conference will be held at the Galt House in Louisville on September 5, 6 and 7.

“It’s the best place to learn the latest mapping technologies, establish yourself, network, get involved, present, and contribute to the geospatial and mapping profession in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” concluded Hill.

KAMP Executive Board: L-R, Meghan Dunn (AECOM), President; Michelle Bough (Stantec), Director; Louis Hill (PDS), President Elect; Vince DiNoto (KCTCS Jefferson), Director; David Siskin (Precision Products), Secretary; Lane Hartman (Hartman Spatial Data Consulting, LLC), Director; Angela Scott (Trideum), Treasurer; Stephen Chino (City of Paducah), Director; Tim Fields (Floyd County 911), Director; Lance Morris (Owensboro - Daviess County GIS Consortium), Past President. Not pictured: Jennifer Miller (Kentucky Division of Water), Director.

Analytics show new GIS website capabilities increase user traffic

Posted on January 03, 2017

PDS’ new LINK-GIS website experienced a 49 percent increase in unique visitors during the first quarter of FY17 compared to the first quarter of FY16, according to Google Analytics. That increase in unique visitors drove an increase in the number of sessions by 70 percent during the same period.

Unique visitors are determined by the IP or internet protocol address of the device that visits the website. Sessions are groups of pages that the user visits before exiting the site, either by going to another site or closing the browsing window.

“Our site’s new content works well on mobile devices,” said Christy Powell, GISP, PDS’ senior GIS programmer. “We’re seeing more users across more devices accessing our site. Much of that increase in sessions is attributable to visitors using the interactive maps on their mobile devices.”

The main LINK-GIS MapViewer showed a 174 percent increase in sessions for the first quarter of FY17 versus the same quarter of FY16.

Page views have increased by 44 percent during this time.

“Much of this increase is due to additional content we added during the update,” said Joe Busemeyer, PDS’ principal GIS programmer. “We wanted the end user to have better access to our maps and especially the NKYmapLAB content.”

Time spent using the MapViewer has decreased over 30 seconds on average from two minutes three seconds to one minute 28 seconds.

“Quicker load times and easier-to-use tools are responsible for getting answers to users faster,” said Powell.

Powell and Busemeyer will use the insights gained from Google Analytics to continue to improve the LINK-GIS website over the next year.


Staff provides all 20 Jurisdictions with profiles full of information

Posted on November 03, 2016
PDS staff crafted new city data sheets this past summer to offer snapshots of demographic trends, public infrastructure, and development activity for each of Kenton County’s 20 jurisdictions. The sheets are updates of research conducted as a part of Direction 2030: Your Choice Your Voice, Kenton County’s comprehensive plan adopted in 2014.

The updated sheets are now available on the Direction 2030 Action website.
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This edition of the city data sheets features information from a variety of public sources as well as local LINK-GIS data. Some of the most notable additions to the sheets are an inventory of street and sidewalk length, park and tree canopy acreage, traffic counts sourced from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and an assessment of each city’s potential for solar energy production. The sheets also provide housing statistics, demographic data, and a two-year record of building permit requests.

PDS staff presented the sheets to city administrators in each jurisdiction, highlighting local trends within the context of the county.

“The city data sheets provided by PDS show positive trends for our city,” says Chris Moriconi, City Administrator for Independence. “Property values have increased over the past decade along with median household income. I was also excited to see that our population is expected to continue to grow into the year 2020. We are very happy to have this information as it shows our city is moving in the right direction.”

The city administrators also reviewed the information provided by PDS staff, shared local data with staff, and discussed changes they thought might be necessary for the sheets. To ensure the accuracy of statistics, housing and demographic representations were drawn from 2000 and 2010 census tables using 100% survey data.

Staff plans to incorporate some census estimates for years succeeding 2010 in the next update to the data sheets.

LINK-GIS featured in online Government Executive Publication

Posted on November 03, 2016
Esri (pronounced ez-ree), the world-wide leader in GIS software, asked PDS staff recently if it could interview and showcase PDS’ GIS story. Esri first noticed the agency’s pioneering work while it was featured at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference last April in Phoenix. The Kenton County Plan4Health story map was the focus of that effort.

Several PDS GIS team members attended the Esri international users’ conference in June and responded to Esri’s interview request. Company executives found PDS’ story so immediately interesting and sharable they asked to communicate its success stories with their user audience and other government publications.

On September 28 the government executive publication Route Fifty picked up the story and published it as, “Empowering a Smarter Community through GIS.”

A quote from the story reads, “Kenton County, Kentucky, is using intelligent maps and apps to provide citizens with the data intelligence they need.”

Review the entire article here.

ROW Management System Shows Life Cycle ROI close to $200,000

Posted on October 07, 2016
The LINK-GIS partnerships were recognized recently at a national conference in California for their return on investment (ROI) and coordination success over the last six years. Software giant Accela which is responsible for the software LINK-GIS uses for right-of-way management (ROWM) hosted the conference.

Trisha Brush, GISP, director of LINK-GIS administration for PDS, spoke at the conference to showcase the successes that the partnerships have experienced using the Accela ROWM software and explained the close-to $200,000 ROI enjoyed by several local jurisdictions.

Those success stories included the City of Covington, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and Campbell County Fiscal Court to name a few. Brush also highlighted the use of pavement condition index (PCI) ratings and how they can aid in being proactive when planning paving projects. Kenton County Fiscal Court is currently completing a PCI for part of its road maintenance system and will use the LINK-GIS software for illustrating its findings.

To local public works and utility officials, this news is no surprise as the partnerships and local utilities continue to engage in opportunities to coordinate pavement and roadway maintenance activities planned over the last six years. The online LINK-GIS tool called Accela ROWM aids in increased communication and coordination for street cuts and paving projects in Kenton and Campbell Counties.

This is the sixth construction season that the online tool has been made available by the two partnerships. The results cut down frustrations felt by the motoring public and decreases the need for pavement cuts.

Representatives from Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts, 22 cities, the water and sanitation districts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6, Duke Energy, Owen Electric, Time Warner Cable and Cincinnati Bell are using the software as a  service tool to manage projects.

The two LINK-GIS partnerships include Campbell and Kenton County Fiscal Courts, the Campbell County PVA, the Northern Kentucky Water District, Sanitation District #1, and PDS.

Contact PDS staff at 859.331.8980 if you would like to learn more about Accela ROWM and how it can assist in saving tax dollars for your community.

GIS director to take part in 2017 Leadership Northern Kentucky class

Posted on September 01, 2016
Trisha Brush, GISP, director of GIS administration at PDS since 2002, is included among 52 individuals selected as members of the 2017 class of Leadership Northern Kentucky (LNK). The announcement of the new class was made earlier this month by Impact Northern Kentucky.

Impact Northern Kentucky is a nonprofit arm of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. One of its primary responsibilities is operating the annual classes of Leadership Northern Kentucky and Regional Youth Leadership.

“I’m excited to be selected for the 2017 Leadership class,” said Brush. “I look forward to working hand in hand with new faces and learning more about different perspectives as we engaging in issues facing the region. I also want to help my team mates understand the power of location intelligence technology and how it can aid in analysis showing data patterns and trends while bringing clarity to proposed solutions.”

Just as its counterparts across the US do, LNK uses the community as a classroom to develop leaders to effectively serve the region. These programs are designed to help a diverse group of potential, emerging, and existing community leaders acquire an understanding of the strengths and challenges of the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati area, and the skills necessary to motivate and engage others in collaborative efforts to address them.

The 52 participants of the Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2017 will participate in an eight-month-long program representing a cross section of the community, including business, government, education, media, non-profit agencies, health services and community organizations.

“I’m excited to get started! We’ve selected what promises to be an engaging group for this year and I’m looking forward to working with them as we focus on ‘Cultivating Community,’” explained LNK 2017 Chair, Jason Reed of Edmondson and Associates.

Staff update, upgrade, and upload improved LINK-GIS website

Posted on July 29, 2016
The LINK-GIS website, linkgis.org, has an updated look and feel. Streamlined, sleek and easy-to-use were goals accomplished with this latest overhaul of the popular geographic resource.

PDS staff rolled out a new public-facing website earlier this month. It replaces a website that had been in place since 2010.

After sifting through thousands of website templates, staff chose a template best suited for the project. Building a website from scratch is not easy. The months following the template selection were filled with configuring pages and customizing code, allowing the new website to provide the public with services only LINK-GIS can offer.

“Most of the talent needed to design, build, and execute the website was found in-house, said Trisha Brush, GISP, PDS’ GIS director. “Our programming team did have some assistance from our friends at Esri when it came to the clip, zip and ship to your inbox widget.”

Clip, zip, and ship is a function of the new website that allows remote customers to identify data they want, to clip and zip it as a file, to pay for it with PayPal, and to get it emailed to them; all without having to contact anyone at PDS.

 “The Esri professional services team helped us convert our data-purchase tool from the older mobile incompatible platform to the up-to-date version that will work on any device,” said Christy Powell, GISP, a senior GIS programmer with PDS. “They also helped us secure the clip, zip, and ship service against unauthorized downloads.”

Over 50 pages of data were added, along with links to LINK-GIS map viewers, NKYmapLAB journal entries, and LINK-GIS partner websites.

“Even though we added more content, we’ve heard from users that the site is easier to navigate,” reported principal GIS programmer Joe Busemeyer, GISP. “Finally, the Store component was customized, allowing users to purchase and download map and data products 24/7—even during hours that PDS GIS team members are not available for service.”

Powell and Busemeyer suggest viewers explore the new LINK-GIS by:
•    clicking on the Map Viewer and searching for an address, owner name, or PIDN, directly from the LINK-GIS website homepage;
•    learning about NKYmapLAB and how geospatial technology is used to educate Northern Kentucky on a variety of topics about the community;
•    shopping for digital data on a county-wide level or choose a specific area by selecting tiles to clip, zip and ship the data directly to your in-box;
•    browsing the map gallery to find dozens of pre-existing maps, which can easily be downloaded for free or requesting a printed copy for pick up or delivery for a nominal fee.

Questions about the new LINK-GIS website can be forwarded to the GIS staff at 859.331.8980.

PDS provides Fiscal Court with master address list for 9-1-1

Posted on June 07, 2016

As managing partner of the LINK-GIS/Kenton County Partnership, the PDS’ GIS team, along with other PDS staff members, worked diligently during the first quarter of 2016 to incorporate new addresses into the partnerships’ Master Address Database and to provide this information to the Kenton County Fiscal Court for use in its emergency dispatch system.

As new Next Generation 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch systems begin to replace existing systems, one of the required features is the ability to exchange data seamlessly with other dispatch centers for back up support and to aid in the rapid delivery of emergency services when and where they are needed.

To do this, adherence to standards is a major factor. All addresses in the LINK-GIS Master Address Database adhere to US Postal Service Addressing Standards. They are also identified uniquely so they can be cross-referenced and used by multiple agencies in a consistent and predictable manner.

LINK-GIS partners initiated the Master Address Database several years ago as a compilation of all known addresses in Kenton County. These addresses were derived from multiple sources of information including property records, utility information, and fieldwork, among others.

Over the years it has been kept up to date as new subdivisions or developments occurred or as older structures were demolished.


GIS programmer earns top honors from Toastmasters International

Posted on June 07, 2016

Christy Powell, a PDS senior GIS programmer, competed against contestants from three states on April 30th in the Toastmasters District 40 Evaluation Contest in Dayton, Ohio. The purpose of the evaluation contest is to provide feedback to speakers. At the end of the competition, Powell brought back top honors for her skills.

Powell remembers a time when speaking in front of a group of any size for any purpose was difficult. "When I started my career, I would be nervous, shaky, and sweaty having to give any presentation. I joined Toastmasters to be better at presentations."

Although speech and evaluation contests were not her primary reason for joining Toastmasters, the contest in Dayton marks the second time she has competed in a district-level event. To get to that level, Powell competed in and won three levels – club, area and division.

The club level contest takes place during a regular club meeting. Powell belongs to two clubs – Pioneer Toastmasters which meets in Covington and Northern Kentucky Toastmasters which meets at PDS. Clubs typically have between ten and 20 members. She won the evaluation contest in each club, but chose to represent Northern Kentucky Toastmasters at the next level.

At the area level, the winners from the club contests compete against contestants from up to six clubs in the same geographic area. In this case, clubs from Kenton, Campbell, and Boone Counties were represented.

Powell won both the speech and evaluation contests at the area level. Following the area contest, the division contest had contestants from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. At the division contest, Powell finished first in the evaluation contest and second in the speech contest.

Powell has used skills gained from Toastmasters in speaking situations for PDS. She has presented about the LINK-GIS website to groups of varied sizes and skill levels. In addition to Powell, six other members of the PDS staff are members of the Northern Kentucky Toastmasters club.


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