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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tools of the trade  |  Topic: Geospacial Information Systems
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♠SARKID♠
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,835
Unit: GLR-WI-002

Timmerman Composite Squadron - WIWG - CAP
« on: November 16, 2011, 02:20:18 AM »

I thought I'd take a bit to introduce a bit of technology to you that you may not be familiar with.  I'll warn you that its certainly not an exciting topic, but one that I think many folks in CAP ES can get some use out of.

Geospacial Information Systems (GIS) are visual databases containing land information.  By land information I mean that they are a combination of maps pertaining to geology and property ownership.  I discovered these maps when I was looking for new places to fish.  There are a number of lakes and rivers in my area that I wanted to fish, but had no idea if I could get to them without trespassing.  I came across the GIS maps and that led to a fantastic fishing season for me once I knew where I could go.

That said, these maps can have a particularly useful place in CAP ES.  We all know that we can't trespass onto private lands without permission from the landowner.  But how do you know who owns the land?  In Wisconsin that can be a tough question to answer because you can drive by miles of forest and not see a single house that could be of the landowner.  One of the great features of GIS maps is that you can look up who owns any piece of land like a plat book.

Imagine a scenario where a ground team has reason to suspect that there is a crashed plane somewhere within a 50 acre forest.  The team can call in to mission base and give an accurate description of where they suspect the ELT signal is coming from.  The folks at mission base can look at an online GIS map for that county, determine who owns the land, their address (and sometimes phone number), and have the ground team proceed to make contact with the landowner.

Here's a link to all of the GIS maps for Wisconsin counties for you to take a look.
http://coastal.lic.wisc.edu/wisconsin-ims/wisconsin-ims.htm

Pick any county and you will be able to access the public side of the GIS mapping service.  The tools allow you to navigate and zoom your way around the map.  By using the legend you can add a satellite photo overlay on most maps and remove unnecessary layers like soil samples and watershed info.  The important tool to look for is the Identify or Parcel Info button.  By using that tool, while zoomed in far enough, you can click on a parcel and it will give you all the info on who owns it and what it's boundaries are.



Play around with the maps, click things, and learn.  One thing to keep in mind though is that they are often fairly slow.  I don't know if its the volume of data or if its really bad servers but they take a fair amount of time to refresh when zooming and pulling up info, just an FYI.  You may or may not have these maps in your state, or they may only be found at the county or municipal level.  Wisconsin has a VERY strong open records law so most of our stuff is public record.
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           Capt. Dan Turkal
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                WI-002/CC
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2011, 11:00:34 PM »

I use the GIS maps all the time for my job (title examiner). They're pretty handy, assuming the county you're working with has a decent data set. Let's just say that some are definitely better than others, and some are essentially useless for anything other than freezing up a computer.
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tools of the trade  |  Topic: Geospacial Information Systems
 


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