GIS Department

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

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.


Staff facilitates public information with social media posts

Posted on June 07, 2016

George Bernard Shaw once opined that “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Mr. Shaw was obviously not thinking of social media when he offered his assessment of the need to communicate. His opinion is nonetheless as pertinent today as it was during his lifespan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

With the understanding that in 2015 the average time spent per adult user per day with digital media is 5.6 hours, and 51% of that time is on a mobile device, PDS staff members are growing the agency’s presence on various social media platforms. The goal is to keep the public informed on what it’s pursuing and how citizens can get engaged.

PDS’ Facebook page and Twitter page (@PDSKC) has been online for several years now and Pete Berard, the agency’s public information coordinator, has used that platform to provide timely notices to followers for some time.

The GIS team committed to social media communications last year when team members realized that hanging one of their maps in a room or hallway was not going to reach the masses and was not a very effective way to spread useful information.

Trisha Brush, GISP, Director of GIS Administration (@twbrush) was the first to tweet, “Join us for the future of trails in NKY meeting 9:00AM at NKAPC sponsored by Green Umbrella.” Members of her staff followed by creating a twitter account (@nkymaplab) for residents to follow staff’s monthly NKYmapLAB initiative. The mapLAB account is managed by Louis Hill, GISP, AICP, the agency’s geospatial data analyst.

The push to social media is a response in understanding how citizens receive their daily news, and an acknowledgement to the age and technologically savvy citizens that live in the Northern Kentucky area.

Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director at PDS, is gearing up for a twitter account dealing with planning issues and news of PDS’ projects.

“I read a good deal about planning in different parts of the country and am always coming across articles I believe are relevant to issues here in Kenton County,” said Gordon. “Until I witnessed what our GIS folks were able to accomplish with tweets, I wasn’t able to share those experiences with friends and acquaintances here locally. I’ll soon be tweeting along with members of my staff.

Gordon says other staff members will follow him over the course of FY17 which begins next month.

Social media posts typically cover project updates, approaches to solving new problems, and success stories. Posts can spark conversations that follow any number of directions. In many cases they can lead to new opportunities, more frequent staff interactions, and an increased awareness as to the overall capabilities of PDS.

Benefits the GIS team has realized by using apps like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GeoNet are increased data sharing, a wider reaching audience, networking opportunities and best management practices. Keeping current on industry standards and development are major rewards as well.

“Rather than waiting for formal venues, such as conferences and organized training, to network, we are doing it on a weekly basis” said Hill. “We’ve also widened the reach of our products and services through professional social media use. We have more eyes on our work, receive more feedback, and have increased the overall quality in our products.”

PDS’ GIS team and the LINK-GIS partnerships ascertained that the good data and works of the GIS team, which seemed obvious to the partnership, failed to translate into effective external communications. The messages seldom reached outside the partnership.

Using social media as a deliberate tactic in communication has resulted in unforeseen increased revenue by 25 percent for PDS and the LINK-GIS partnerships.


NKYmapLAB earns state award for use of technology in planning

Posted on June 07, 2016

Two simple goals drove initiation of PDS’ NKYmapLAB project: to illustrate the robust analytical capabilities of LINK-GIS and to use those capabilities to support Kenton County’s economic development program. As those goals are being realized now 18 months later, NKYmapLAB has also garnered top honors during this year’s awards program of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-KY).

The 2016 APA-KY Special Merit Award for Outstanding Use of Technology in Planning was given to NKYmapLAB for the project’s ongoing effort to highlight community issues and educate the public using GIS technology.

“This award is a great recognition for our team,” said Louis Hill, GISP, AICP, geospatial data analyst for PDS and project manager for NKYmapLAB. “I’d like to think that it acknowledges not only our efforts to better use technology and GIS, but also to use it in a meaningful way—one that makes our cities, our county, and our citizens better informed and more proactive.”

In announcing NKYmapLAB’s initiation last January, PDS’ executive director Dennis Gordon said, “We’ll soon celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of LINK-GIS’ founding. That makes it one of the oldest GIS systems in this part of the country. And, because time has a way of translating into data within these systems, LINK-GIS is a veritable treasure trove of intelligence.”

Gordon went on then to say that he was banking that when the community is exposed to ongoing examples of GIS analytics, more people will come to appreciate what PDS and its partners have built for the community. Somewhat prophetically, he also asserted that outside interests would come to recognize NKYmapLAB’s capabilities.

Some of the topics covered to date include issues as diverse as: energy efficiency; landslides; urban tree canopy; and, walkability—topics that are part of Direction 2030, Kenton County’s new cutting-edge comprehensive plan.

“There’s no secret to the fact that a geographic information system (GIS) can be one of the most potent tools a community can have in its arsenal when it comes to economic development,” said Gordon last January. “The ability to provide enormous amounts of geospatial data in short periods of time can mean the difference between winning or losing a prospect.”

LINK-GIS data have been a useful resource for recent economic development discussions being pursued by members of Kenton County Fiscal Court. Future NKYmapLAB products will begin the public awareness phase of Kenton County’s economic development program.

NKYmapLAB products may be accessed here. Contact Hill and Ryan Kent, GISP, Principal Geospatial Analyst, for more information. Suggestions for future analyses are always welcome.

LINK-GIS is an interlocal partnership made up of Kenton County Fiscal Court, SD1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and PDS. PDS is the managing partner.


Local group presents info and stories about the March 2, 2012 tornado

Posted on April 19, 2016

Direction 2030 comprehensive plan earns national award

Posted on March 24, 2016

Kenton County’s new comprehensive plan—Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choiceis the 2016 recipient of a national Award of Excellence in the Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction category. The award is one of several accolades granted to planning projects from across the nation by the American Planning Association (APA) County Planning Division and its sister organization, the National Association of County Planners. The award will be presented on April 4 during the APA National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

“This recognition was a nice surprise,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director of Planning and Development Services of Kenton County (PDS). PDS provides professional staff support to the Kenton County Planning Commission, the board ultimately responsible for crafting and adopting the comprehensive plan.

“Being acknowledged with the respect of your peers is outstanding. In this case, though, it recognizes the fact that this plan was the result of hard work by members of the planning commission, citizens and interest groups from across the county, and of course our staff. This plan was truly a collaborative effort,” said Gordon.

Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. was crafted through an aggressive three-year public engagement process. The plan was grounded in research provided by a national market analyst, most of it from sources bankers use for reviewing development-financing strategies.

Planners and technical experts from PDS’ GIS team then went to work crafting an entirely new concept for content delivery. The final plan (direction2030.org)—there is no printed product—documents its creation, delivers guidance to anyone anywhere 24/7/365, and incorporates GIS technologies to entice users to interact with its contents.

Shortly after the plan’s adoption, PDS planners and GIS professionals created a second website (action.direction2030.org) to keep participants and stakeholders up to date with information from the various implementation efforts being undertaken by the planning commission and others across the community.

This national award follows an Award of Merit for an Outstanding Comprehensive Plan given last year by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Each year the American Planning Association’s County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners gives out County Planning Project Awards. Only one Award of Excellence and one Award of Merit may be granted per category each year. If the awards jury finds that none of the nominations in a particular category meets the desirable standards, they may withhold the award in that category for that year.

“This recognition, without question, goes ultimately to the countless residents who came out to express their hopes and dreams for Kenton County’s future. Much more than merely a title, Direction 2030: Your Voice. Your Choice. really did represent the ultimate goal for our process and our final product,” concluded Gordon. “We couldn’t be prouder that our collaborative efforts are being held up as a model.”

“Thank you Kenton County!”


GIS staffer named to NKY emergency response planning committee

Posted on March 04, 2016

Kathy Stephens GISP, an associate GIS specialist at PDS was appointed a member of the Northern Kentucky Emergency Planning Committee (NKEPC) during the group’s January meeting.

In making the appointment, Rodney Bell, Safety Manager for Sanitation District No.1, stated, “It’s great to have a PDS representative on board. It will provide additional capability and credibility for our three-county region.”

Stephens believes that PDS can be of great support to the organization and its goals. LINK-GIS and the mapping services it provides to both Kenton and Campbell Counties is an invaluable resource to those who must respond when emergencies strike the three-county community. Several services provided include: creation of large wall maps of fire hydrant locations, customized hydrant information based on gallons per minute (GPM) data, map books, crime site maps, analyzed data and installed stand-alone mapping programs within the trucks for several local fire departments.

PDS staff also assist Kenton County emergency services manager Steve Hensley with selecting locations for new emergency warning sirens. In the aftermath of the 2012 tornado that struck southern Kenton County, PDS’ GIS team assisted in the recovery process by providing products to aid in surveying the damaged structures for assessment of the storm severity. 

In support of that role, senior GIS programmer Christy Powell, GISP, is developing a mobile app that will allow inspectors to capture field data and directly link them to a FEMA document for easier submittal processing.

In 1986 Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act also known as the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA Title III). NKEPC was created from that federal legislation as a federally-mandated entity composed of state and local officials, business representatives, and members of the media.

NKEPC members come from local emergency responders, industry, government, education, media, and community groups. The group’s main function is to provide joint emergency planning, training, and public outreach. 

Out of Kentucky’s 120 counties, NKEPC is the only emergency planning group to serve a multi-county area. The other 117 counties in the Commonwealth have individual local emergency planning committees.

The Northern Kentucky Emergency Planning Committee is administered through the Boone County Emergency Management Agency.


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