In 2008 the Indiana Geographic Information Officer, in cooperation with other organizations and agencies, sent a letter to County Commissioners requesting their participation in the IndianaMap. Four GIS data layers were requested, including land parcels, point addresses, local roads and jurisdiction boundaries.
Q2. What are the benefits to Indiana local government to provide data in participation with the IndianaMap?
A2. Economics - When a local GIS system is used for stormwater assessment it may save your community tens of thousands of dollars. When used again for site selection in support of economic development, that return on investment may double - or even triple. In fact, studies have proven that with each use, the return on investment of publicly funded GIS data increases, in other words, the value of GIS data increases the more it is used. The IndianaMap increases the availability of local data for pressing issues, thus increasing the return on investment for each local community that contributes data.
Service to Citizens - Response to large natural disasters, like the 2008 Indiana flooding, often takes coordinated response from local officials, responders, volunteers, Indiana National Guard, local and State Police, Federal agencies, the Red Cross, Animal Rescue, and many more - and that takes coordinated data. In a time when every second counts, the IndianaMap can help assure those who need it are reading from the same playbook - they'll have consistent, quality, timely information for decision-making. The IndianaMap helps coordinate information for response to help save lives and property of those communities that participate.
The benefits to participating in the IndianaMap closely parallel the benefits of GIS. In fact we know its uses are nearly limitless. Inclusion of accurate and current local government adds great value to activities that rely on that data. In particular, the four data sets (land parcels, point addresses, local roads, and local boundaries) requested for inclusion in the IndianaMap will add value to economic development, disaster mitigation and recovery, emergency planning, transportation planning, water quality analysis and planning, natural resource management, social service delivery, and exploring patterns in community growth, health issues, and crime, to name a few.
"GIS, in this response, on this disaster and other disasters, is extremely valuable, as you know. We will certainly use this data, because we like to use the best available data and that's the data that's most always State and Local. Because a lot of the [emergency response] people that come into a disaster are from other states, they're just simply not familiar enough to know that Brown County is south [of Indianapolis] and Hamilton is north. They just don't know that sort of thing. So we answer an awful lot of questions. We also look analytically at where people are who have been impacted by disasters, and that's what we've done here."
- Sean Donovan, Joint Field Operations, FEMA, speaking about the value of State and Local GIS data in responding to the 2008 Indiana flood damage.
Q3. Our county already shares information with our neighbors. Doesn't that limit the advantages of participating in the IndianaMap?
A3. We encourage and applaud all efforts to share critical geospatial data, including efforts to share data with neighboring cities and counties. We believe, however, that these efforts are often done with a focus on a specific project and the results are more of a "snap-shot" than a long term initiative. The IndianaMap initiative is an ongoing effort that will ensure that the end product will remain up-to-date and improve over time. We recognize that, like the 2008 Indiana floods, the challenges that confront governments often cross multiple county boundaries and the exact footprint of a disaster is never known until after a disaster occurs. Therefore, a reasonable strategy is to create critical statewide data sets now, before the next disaster happens.
Q4. Creating and maintaining a county GIS is expensive. What is the state contributing to the IndianaMap?
A4. As a partner in the IndianaMap, the State has contributed and continues to contribute to the IndianaMap. Beyond providing the necessary sponsorship, significant funding for the 2005 orthophotography came from the state. Over one-hundred IndianaMap data layers have been created and are being maintained by the State. The cost of the technical infrastructure and human resource required to integrate the four data layers requested by the invitation letter will be paid by the State. Indiana Department of Transportation has, to date, paid the vast majority of the cost to create and maintain the public face of the IndianaMap.
We agree that GIS, like most information systems, is expensive to create and maintain. We also recognize that GIS has a well documented positive return on investment and that most governments implement GIS to provide higher quality public service in a more efficient manner, saving an amount equal to a greater than its cost in 3 to 7 years. Conversely, few governments implement GIS as a revenue generator. Nonetheless, the issue of financial support for local GIS efforts is one of extreme importance. Funding to support local GIS activities must be part of the long term statewide GIS strategy, and should include support for programs, such as statewide orthophotography, that offset local costs for GIS maintenance.
Finally, it is important to remember that the IndianaMap has been a multi-year activity led by the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and over a dozen partners, including several State agencies. This GIS community is comprised of professionals, educators, and all levels of government from across the state who understand the value of building a shared resource to help support local communities who are already struggling to do too much with too little. It is because of the value to all Hoosier communities that so many have rallied behind this shared resource. As such, all participants and partners share in its development, maintenance and sustainability. IGIC is committed to making sure, with your help, this resource gets the support it needs.
Q5. Is there a plan for the collection, integration, and distribution of the requested data?
A5. Yes, although some parts of the plan have more detail than other parts. One of the biggest challenges over the years has been the creation of a viable, sustainable technical infrastructure and the human resources to manage and maintain it. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of over a dozen government, university, and private sector organizations, this infrastructure is in place and is depicted in the schematic shown at the end of this document.
As shown in the diagram, copies of the data can be periodically extracted from participants, moved through a "translation" process to homogenize the many different standards that exist in the counties, and then combined into the IndianaMap. The resulting integrated product is then stored, made available to collaborators, including local government participants, the Indiana State Library, the Indiana Business Research Center, state government agencies, and the Indiana Geological Survey (IGS). In addition, orthophotography, as available, is provided to University Information Technology Services (UITS) at Indiana University. IGS and UITS store the data and make it available through public interfaces for free viewing and downloading.
A6. Anyone who has access to the Internet may go to the IndianaMap portal (www.indianamap.org) and view the statewide layers. Users may also download the data, so that they can combine it with their own data. These services will be provided free to the public.
Q7. Will you restrict the use of the data? Will you sell the data?
A7. Because public agency GIS data, such as these four requested data layers, are public records as defined by state law IC 5-14-3 and confirmed by an advisory opinion from the Indiana Public Access Counselor in "Formal Complaint 05-FC-124; Alleged Violation of the Access to Public Records Act by the City of Berne Stormwater Utility Board", and because state government is a public agency as defined in IC 5-14-3, the copying and viewing of these data are subject to IC 5-14-3. Therefore, use of these data cannot be restricted. These data will be provided freely. In fact, charging for the data or its access is counter to what we hope to do with this. These are important public records. We want to increase availability of the data by making them freely available rather than limit availability by charging a fee.
Q8. I feel that my county (or township ) job is threatened. Why should I give data to the State? Won't that put my job more at risk?
A8. These data become out-of-date as conditions change, therefore requiring continuous maintenance. Local level data is successfully maintained by local governments whose knowledge of local history and local conditions exists nowhere else - not at the state and not in the private sector. The value of these new statewide data layers, once integrated and made widely available, will be a powerful testament to the importance of local data stewards and the work that they do. Sharing data will generate greater demand for locally maintained data.
Q9. Will the Indiana Department of Homeland Security cover the costs for creating and maintaining a Web Feature Service for two years (the term of the grant agreement)?
A9. Yes. It is our understanding that the cost to set-up and maintain a web feature service for two years should be well less than half of the $14,894 limit of the grant, and less yet for counties that already have a GIS web application developed. Once set up, the cost of running a web feature service should be close to the cost of the electricity to operate the computer.
Q10. What about funding beyond the two years of the grant?
A10. We believe that the value of the four requested data sets, once integrated and widely distributed, will be reason enough for funders to support this effort over the long term. Meanwhile, the GIS community, coordinated by the Indiana Geographic Information Council, and working cooperatively with the Geographic Information Office, is seeking sustainable long term funding for a wide range of GIS activities at local and state government levels.
Worst case? Turn off the service after two years if the costs outweigh the benefits.
Q11. What if we don't have all the information that you are requesting?
A11. We are asking that you provide the data described in the letter only if you have it. We are not asking you to create new data to satisfy the request. However, feel free to propose to the Indiana Department Homeland Security to use any grant funds that remain after covering WFS costs to help pay for the creation of new data so long as it is one of the four layers that have been requested.
Q12. What can we do as a county to identify the value that we are contributing to our county and to the IndianaMap?
A12. Bruce Joffe, in his paper "Ten Ways to Support GIS Without Selling Data" (URISA Journal, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2005, http://www.urisa.org/files/Joffevol16no2-3.pdf), suggests several ways to think about the financial benefit of GIS and how to use that to support ongoing GIS activities. As section of that paper is included here:
The Value Is In The Usage, Not In The Data
Local governments are seeing more and more financial benefits accrue from using GIS data, both to their organizations and to the citizens in their jurisdictions. As accounting mechanisms are put in place to allocate a portion of those benefits back toward the ongoing support of GIS operations and the maintenance of their geodata assets, fewer agencies will need to sell their data. There will be fewer access barriers between the public and the government's public information. The following actions are recommended in order to achieve this objective:
Recognize that the value of geodata is realized through its usage. The more it is distributed, the more it is used. The more usage, the more value.
Change governmental accounting practices to identify and measure the revenues that come from GIS-based information and analysis.
Change governmental accounting practices to identify and measure the savings that result from NOT spending money, due to geospatial analysis.
Allocate a portion of these benefits back to support the GIS operations that made them possible.
One ODC participant, a stalwart advocate of selling his county's data to users who were not taxpayers or citizens of his county, asked during our deliberations, "Why should a national map company have free access to our data when it sells digital tourist maps for profit?"
"And when those tourists use our maps to guide their vacation," the data reseller answered, "where do they go to spend their money?"
A13. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is offering each Indiana county up to $14,894 to host framework data on a Web Feature Service (WFS), which will provide IDHS a common operating picture during an emergency.