Local company awarded for maps

Tomy Hillers

Maps for a variety of purposes, including local weather maps, are made by an Ames company, Geographical Information Services.

Earlier this month, Story County and Ames were recognized by the Environmental Systems Research Institute for their achievements in GIS technology.

This service was established in order to make information available to the public on the Internet, said ISU GIS Facility Manager Kevin Kane.

This information, including street names, landowners and population densities, is loaded into the system in a spreadsheet format, he said. The data is layered onto topographical maps or aerial photographs. Then these maps are made available to the public on the company’s Web site.

There are many cities around the nation which use GIS, but the system created by Ames and Story County was honored because it is very user-friendly, said Ames Planning and Zoning Coordinator Joe Pietruszynski.

He said that being chosen for an award out of the 300,000 organizations using GIS worldwide was a huge accomplishment.

“We were chosen from a very elite group which included organizations such as USA Today,” he said.

Pietruszynski said receiving this award was a great achievement, considering the limited funding available.

“Given the small budget and Ames’ conservative spending, we made a great system while looking out for taxpayers’ dollars,” he said. “We were also the first municipality to implement this system in Iowa.”

Pietruszynski said through GIS the city provides property owners with property tax information.

GIS can be used in many other ways to simplify city procedures and projects, Pietruszynski said.

He said GIS works closely with the Ames Fire Department. The company compared the time it would take to reach certain locations in selecting a site for Ames’ third fire department.

GIS is also put to use by CyRide, which uses online maps and information to provide arrival and departure times to the public.

The mapping software has many uses on campus as well.

“Iowa State also has a hand in our system,” he said. “Not only do we share information with ISU faculty – many students use our systems for projects.”

ISU GIS Analyst Patrick Brown said Team PrISUm, the solar car team, is now using a form of GIS when they race.

“[They predict] the best route for their car by analyzing the road network for turns and slope gradients,” he said.

Brown said marketing students use purchasing trends and other data to target their advertising demographics.

Kane said students can make use of GIS in several ways.

They can access GIS software and data at computer labs in the Design Building and Science II, he said. Students can also download GIS software on any ISU computer for class and research projects.