GIS Department

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

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.

In-house GIS collaboration earns Esri Special Achievement Award

Posted on May 04, 2017

Esri, the worldwide leader in GIS software and technology, announced last month that PDS’ Planning and GIS departments will be honored this summer with a 2017 Special Achievement in GIS award. PDS’ ongoing use of innovative ideas and multi-media methods to communicate stories, comprehensive planning initiatives, and site-readiness selections for economic development prompted the award.

PDS will be recognized in July during the 37th Annual Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) International Users Conference in San Diego.

PDS was selected from more than 150,000 organizations worldwide. Esri bestows the Special Achievement Award to organizations in each state that have made extraordinary contributions to the global society and set new precedents throughout the GIS community.

"The organizations winning this award have used GIS to produce profound work that benefits their businesses as well as the world around them," said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. "They deserve to be recognized for the dedication and diligence apparent through their work with GIS."

“We’re very proud to have earned this recognition from Esri,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, PDS’ executive director. “It speaks to the long and distinguished history our staff has earned for collaborating to the benefit of the communities we serve. This is our second such award from Esri for our GIS system.”

Trisha Brush GISP, Director of GIS Administration, commented, "When elected officials, planners, or development professionals work on regional projects, it’s imperative that they use the most accurate information possible."

"By working with numerous stakeholders in the community, we've been able to be creative and innovative while keeping the integrity of our good works," remarked Emi Randall, AICP, RLS, Director of Planning and Zoning.

To see some of the collaborative efforts that led to the award, visit the mapLAB gallery on the agency’s GIS website.

 


Latest NKYmapLAB product highlights Riverfront Commons project

Posted on April 04, 2017

The newest NKYmapLAB project is a collaborative effort between PDS, Southbank Partners and Strategic Advisors featuring the 11.5-mile long Riverfront Commons multi-use trail in Northern Kentucky. 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 local trail systems. This trail is the signature project of Southbank Partners, a community and economic development organization that supports these river cities.

The newly released Story Map will provide several resource-rich interactive maps that allow users to see what portions of the trail have been completed, what is being built in 2017, and what is planned for the future. There are numerous images, links, points-of-interest, reports, and design documents available through this Story Map.

Portions of the trail system already have been completed in two cities. On Tuesday March 14th, the City of Covington Mayor and Board of Commissioners approved an order awarding the Riverfront Commons Project construction bid to Sunesis Construction.

Sunesis was awarded $1,280,480 to begin the construction of pieces of the Riverfront Commons project in Ludlow, Newport and Covington. Construction is expected to start as early as May and will be completed this year.

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 and Devou Park Backcountry Trails in Covington, Tower Park Trails in Fort Thomas, and the Ohio River Bike Trail which will ultimately connect with the Little Miami Scenic Trail running through five southwestern Ohio counties.

“We have worked carefully with Southbank Partners and Strategic Advisors to release this project during the part of the year that is most timely. We intentionally aimed for an end of March release date, which falls between awarding the construction bids, and the start of the on-ground trail improvements,” said Louis Hill, Geospatial Data Analyst with PDS.


For additional information about the Story Map contact Louis Hill, AICP, GISP. 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.



Staff rolls out database of subdivision lots available, developed

Posted on April 04, 2017
Want to know more about lot availability of subdivisions in Kenton County? Through the collaborative efforts of PDS staff, new subdivision data has been created and is now available on the new LINK-GIS Development Analyst map viewer.

Two members of the GIS team, Joe Busemeyer, GISP and Steve Lilly, PLS, GISP, CPII; have utilized the power of GIS Model Builder to extract “vacant” and “developed” parcel information in the active subdivisions of Kenton County.

The project began as a discussion regarding information that is commonly requested at PDS. What subdivisions have lots available? How many parcels are available and how many have been developed in said subdivision? Is the subdivision single or multi-family? From there Busemeyer began looking at the GIS data layers that already exist. Using the Model Builder technology in the ESRI GIS software, he was able to create a series of models that intersect existing GIS data layers, run calculations, extract new information and generate a series of new GIS database layers to answer these questions. During this process Busemeyer realized that some of the GIS data needed some updates and upgrades.

Lilly, who maintains many of the GIS layers involving development in Kenton County, utilized his expertise of this information for this project. He performed extensive quality control on the Preliminary Plat layer, which represents active and non-active subdivisions in the county and is one of the key GIS layers used in the models Busemeyer developed.

After many rounds of testing and tweaking the data and models, they were able to create the GIS layers needed to answer the subdivision questions.

Busemeyer then created the new Development Analyst map viewer, added the new subdivision GIS data, and configured pop-ups for the new GIS layers. Now when users click on a subdivision in the map viewer, they will see a window showing information pertaining to that subdivision. Adding these dynamic layers allow users to interact with the data, such as turning the layers on and off and clicking on the features for more information.

In addition to the map viewer, Lilly developed a user-friendly spreadsheet that could be exported onto the website. The document displays commonly requested key pieces of information. Developments are organized by their city and display the acreage, total lots planned, and total lots built. Each development name is also hyperlinked and will open to its location on the over-all development plan.

Through the collaboration of PDS staff members and innovative use of GIS technology, subdivision information is readily available in just a few clicks of the mouse.

To try out this new function, visit linkgis.org and start exploring today!


GIS, Planning directors speak to national audience on collaboration

Posted on March 07, 2017
The PDS planning and GIS teams were recognized recently at a national conference in California for their smart planning practices. Emi Randall, AICP, RLA, Planning Director and Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS were asked to present on new approaches to planning and geodesign, that utilizes the power of spatial planning, web apps and maps.

The Geodesign Summit is an annual gathering of professionals seeking to use geospatial technologies by planning to arrive at the best design solutions.

Randall and Brush showcased recent projects in their presentation on which their teams have worked together over the last several years; including Direction 2030, site readiness and NKYmapLAB. The presentation featured PDS and LINK-GIS efforts in using collaborative analysis to inform local decision makers and ignite discussions on important issues. These initiatives were enriched by harnessing the power of dynamic maps and other multimedia content to tell a story.

“I believe our presentation was well received by the audience of over 200 attendees. Showing how Kenton County is bringing planning and GIS together to impact the community is powerful,” states Randall.

Brush appreciated the opportunity to share NKYmapLAB projects such as Plan4Health and Walkability with the attendees; excellent examples that demonstrate the planning and geodesign aspects of PDS.

By using multimedia technology and collaborative efforts PDS is leading data driven discussions among elected officials and citizens to tell Kenton County’s story.

What story could your community tell by using planning and GIS together to design a shared best solution?

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.
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