GIS Department

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

Spring brings daffodils, orange barrels, and Envista

Posted on April 11, 2014
As spring approaches, the warmer weather brings daffodils, orange barrels, and traffic slowdowns to Northern Kentucky. To local public works and utility officials, this spring brings the continued opportunity to coordinate pavement and roadway maintenance activities planned for the next six to seven months.

The online LINK-GIS tool called Envista will aid to increase communication and coordination for street cuts and paving projects in Kenton and Campbell Counties. This is the fourth construction season that the online tool will be available. The result will cut down frustrations felt by the motoring public and decrease the need for pavement cuts. Currently Envista shows 211 pavement projects slated for the upcoming 2014 construction season.

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, Insight Cable and Cincinnati Bell are using the software-as-a-service tool to manage projects.

“All participating entities can see current and upcoming projects through the central communication dashboard and can identify conflicts and opportunities to work together,” said Trisha Brush, GISP, NKAPC’s director for LINK-GIS administration.

“The system is only as good as the data that are put into it,” said Brush. “So, in order to make the tool function effectively, NKAPC staff is aiding local governments and utilities currently with project updates and checking their data for information that would be pertinent and useful to others who might be looking at the same street segment.

“Besides the fact that we’re working to save money through coordination, we’re also working to cut down on traffic aggravation and total construction time,” Brush said. “The tool will also help participating entities to use their road construction and maintenance dollars wisely, allowing significant cost savings for rate- and tax-payers.

NKAPC has hosted an Envista user’s group regularly for the past several years for all jurisdictions participating in the program. The user’s group meetings show enhancements to the software and offer face time with the Envista representative for a question and answer period. The user group offers an open environment to provide feedback and best practices, while allowing users to put a face with a name for those with whom they’re coordinating.

“Envista staff are incredibly approachable, and have provided a level of personal service and contact that has enabled us to make good use of Envista,” said Jessica Moss, GIS specialist in Covington’s Community Service Department. “Each time I’ve had a question or an issue, they have been very responsive, usually walking me through every process step by step.”

“When I first started using Envista, it was somewhat overwhelming, but the customer service and technical feedback has allowed me to put it into good use quickly. He takes all of our feedback, questions, and suggestions seriously, finding ways to customize Envista to our specific needs.”

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

Staff develop app for collection of field data using GIS

Posted on February 26, 2014
Integrating field-collected data seamlessly into the LINK-GIS system has been a long-held goal for NKAPC staff members. Now, new software from Esri gives GIS department members the ability to roll out applications to anyone with a smartphone or tablet with GPS capabilities.

Christy Powell, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS programmer has created two projects to show how this capability can be utilized. The first project is a bike and pedestrian count application for the NKAPC Planning and Zoning department. This application will be used during the semi-annual audit in May of this year.

The second project is a building damage assessment application. During an emergency situation this application would be used to collect information such as number of people affected, contact names, and extent of damage. Since this information is stored in the cloud, even if the NKAPC building was affecting during a disaster, the maps and data would still be available. Another advantage of the application being in the cloud is that in a large disaster, inspectors from outside NKAPC would have access to the data.

In addition to geographic and tabular data, the user can capture photos and video tied to the location. The application also has built-in routing and directions.

“I’ve shown this application to people who collected building damage assessments in the past and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Powell. “We are currently working from a template provided by Esri. With input from building inspectors over the next few weeks, we will be refining the database to better meet NKAPC’s needs.”

The GIS staff has been showing this capability internally and externally over the past month. Several groups have expressed interest in creating projects. Steve Lilly, NKAPC’s land surveying analyst, says, “I’m working with the GIS department to create a survey control monument reconnaissance application. The way we collected this data in the past did not tie the photos to the field data. This system will save us time in the field, streamline our process, and cut out data entry errors.”

The ArcGIS Collector application is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play (formerly Android Market).  This application is free to download and has sample data from Esri available. A username and password provided by NKAPC are needed to connect with maps published by NKAPC and begin collecting data.


GIS staff creating updated, multi-use address database

Posted on February 26, 2014
“Ever searched for a needle in a haystack? It’s a very tedious process if you don’t have a magnet!” That is the metaphor Tom East, GISP, NKAPC’s senior GIS specialist, used to describe the process of finding addresses for the multi-purpose address database being built and maintained for use of LINK-GIS partners and emergency dispatch officials.

Although it may seem simple enough to compile a list of known addresses, many problems arise. Sources of the data may record addresses and road names in different ways. For example, MEADOWLARK DR and MEADOW LARK RD may actually refer to the same street, but people may have spelled and abbreviated them differently in their organization. On the other hand, they could also be two entirely different streets.

“It’s our job to resolve these discrepancies and list them as single road names or as separate road names as the case may be,” says East. “The same principle applies to individual addresses along a street.”

GIS staff has used multiple sources in building this address database. Parcel data, utility service address data, and even Google streetview scenes in a few cases, have been used to determine which addresses should be added to the database.

“One of the difficulties is that each source has a large overlap or duplication along with a smaller percentage of unique new addresses that may not be found in other sources. For example, parcel data may list a single address for a property, but utility records could list multiple unique addresses for service on that parcel.”

This fact highlights another issue – that of diminishing returns. Each source must be filtered to eliminate addresses that have been compiled already, while gleaning new ones that might be present. Eventually the number of new addresses discovered by sifting through another source begins to fall flat. Fewer and fewer new addresses can be discovered this way. The most difficult cases may require fieldwork, but as East points out, “We try to use every other affordable means before resorting to fieldwork since it is more costly, both time wise and monetarily.”

Once built, the database becomes a dynamic repository of address information that can be used for multiple purposes. Old addresses are never deleted. Instead they are marked as retired and new ones are always being added.


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