What is GIS?
GIS, or Geographic Information System, is a computerized mapping and database
program that allows for the capture, storage, display, analysis, and management
of any data linked to a location. Or, as I prefer to suggest, "GIS is a smart
map"! Ask the GIS a question and it quickly provides an answer in the form of a
map or report. Want to know the zoning designation of a property? Present that
question to the GIS and it quickly provides a text and graphical answer. How
many people live within 1 mile of a shopping center? With GIS you quickly can
find this answer. Where is the closest Park in relation to where I live? These
are all simple questions that the GIS can readily answer. Of course information
such as population, streets, properties, zoning, and parks need to be present
within the GIS for it to provide these answers. Fortunately, that is why Modesto
has this information within its GIS and is continually developing and managing
additional GIS data.
Most of the information that Modesto collects, maintains, tracks, or analyzes
in its normal course of business is referenced to a geographic location. For
example, a utility bill has a reference to a service address and billing address.
A business license is related to a physical property address. A single zoning
designation may cover an entire neighborhood or sometimes only a few properties.
And a water valve, fire hydrant, or water meter may be located in proximity to
a physical property address. By collecting and entering this data into the GIS,
Modesto not only is obtaining a current inventory of infrastructure, customers,
or planning information, but is providing staff with the tools and ability to
more effectively manage, analyze, and rapidly obtain informational needs. Listed
below are several examples of how Modesto is utilizing GIS to streamline its
- Our traditional method for managing maps has been a manual drafting and
paper based process. Unfortunately, as our City has grown, the volume of
paper maps and data has increased dramatically. The search for map documents
showing pertinent utility information can be an extremely time consuming process
when performed manually; however, GIS allows us too readily access utility data
and other map types simply by referencing a location on a map.
- The manual process of identifying property owners and then preparing mailing
labels for the purpose of a public notification can easily take several hours to
complete. With GIS the public notification process can be accomplished in 5
minutes or less.
- Evaluating the location for the City’s next Fire Station is a very important
task and one that is not considered lightly. Utilizing GIS technology, the City
can effectively and expeditiously evaluate multiple sites and scenarios with
confidence that the most strategic location has been identified.
Provide services and tools to manage and access any City assets, documents, records, and resources which are tied to a location.
What We Do
Located within the Information Technology Department, the GIS Division provides
computer software, data, tools, and personnel to manage, access, analyze, and
present location based (spatial) information. We also provide numerous other
services such as map and database development, data collection, map/data
maintenance, applications development, projects creation, training, and map
creation for the City of Modesto.