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West Jordan GIS team putting city on map

Thursday, March 15, 20121158 views

Nearly gone are the days of clumsily folding the pesky accordion roadmap, now that the world around us has gone digital.

The West Jordan Geographic Information Systems team was invited Feb. 29 to the Utah State Capitol to show off the city’s sophisticated interactive maps to representatives and senators in the first “Maps on the Hill” event.

“I think it was a good eye-opener for them to see how maps are used, especially now that they just finished redistricting for the state,” GIS Administrator Clint Hutchings said. “And that was all done with maps. In fact, I’m in the process now using maps to change the boundaries of the city boundaries.”

They joined about 20 other organizations, including Murray City, which did a swift water rescue map; the Department of Health, which mapped Chlamydia; and the forest service, which displayed maps on avalanche danger.

“So there weren’t very many. Just a chosen few,” Hutchings said.

The West Jordan interactive maps allows residents to look up garbage pickup days, school boundaries, parks and trails, voting precincts, property appraisals, zoning and more.

The GIS team also keeps track of all the city’s assets, including water and sewer lines, storm drains, fire hydrants and street lights.

The team consists of Hutchings, Tom Nelson, Marlene Vigil and five interns.

“We’ve started relying more on interns since we’ve had to cut back, because we had to lay off one of my people on the lay-offs awhile back,” Hutchings said. “That was a quarter of my group. To lose one person: 25 percent is a lot to make up, because the workload doesn’t go away.”

The maps get about 1,000 hits a month.

GIS has so many different applications, from mapping bodies in the medical field to where to put the next fire station in the fire department, and the hot spots for crime for the police department, Hutchings said.

“There’s even predictive GIS software for when you’ve got a serial criminal,” Hutchings said. “A criminal will start making a pattern and the software will predict where they will be next. While police do a lot of their own work, I also help them. And I’m on their emergency group, so if there’s a kidnapping, they will call me in to make emergency search maps.”

Hutchings believes very soon people will use their phones to map out the malls and stores.

"It will recognize where you are and will say, ‘The last three times you were in the store you bought milk,’” Hutchings said. “’Do you want help getting back to the milk section?’ And it will walk you back to the milk section and then will pull up an online coupon. So then you take your Smartphone to the online checkout with your coupon.”

Already, there are phone applications that can keep tabs on children while they are out on the town or help find cars in parking lots.

“I heard the other day that Utah is among the very top using Smartphones, and Smartphones are really map-driven,” Hutchings said.

The city’s maps can be found at http://www.wjordan.com/maps.aspx.

 

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