Anoka County Launches Online GIS Application
By John Slusarczyk, Anoka County GIS Coordinator
Demand for online access to GIS data has grown substantially in recent years, and the Anoka County GIS Department wanted a GIS web solution that could deliver large amounts of data through a simple and easy-to-use interface.
Several vendors and products were considered before GeoDecisions and their GeoPRIME solution was chosen as the best fit for Anoka County’s needs. GeoPRIME is developed on a well-established platform that leverages Adobe FLEX API technology and ArcGIS Server to deliver “rich map display components and navigation, query, and printing tools.” The only requirement on the user side is an internet browser equipped with the common Adobe Flash browser plugin. GeoDecisions agreed to build several custom tools for the Anoka County GIS site that are now included as part of the GeoPRIME product. A customization wizard for making code updates and for adding/removing layers from the application was also included in the purchase. The fact that the County could easily spawn alternate GIS applications from the core parcel viewer application was a big selling point.
Base Map Overview
The interface itself is very clean and has a look and feel similar to Google Maps or Bing Maps. The majority of the interface “real estate” is occupied by the base map, while the toolbar has a minimal number of buttons, layers, and options for the user. It was tempting to make this application a “one stop shop” for all things GIS. However, a public parcel viewer was the main priority for this application, so the County intentionally left out many of the extra data layers you might commonly see in GIS web applications.
Property Identification Pop-Up
The cartography used in this project was developed as a base map standard by several metro counties. The base map itself is made up of cached data layers, and much of the processing is done client-side, so the map redraws quickly. The user can also toggle between the traditional base map and an aerial version, or use a transparency slider to view a combination of the two.
Mailing Label Buffer Search
Some notable tools/functions on the site include links to and from our Property Tax web page, links to Bing oblique images and Google Street View, incorrect address reporting (allows users to easily submit fixes to Anoka County GIS), mailing labels and comparable property searches (coming soon). The Anoka County GIS application also contains links to digital half sections, plats, section corner ties and benchmark documents in PDF format. Currently, the user can only access these documents by identifying a feature within the map, but the County plans to add plat and half section searches under the existing search tool.
To this point the County has received a lot of positive feedback on the site from both the public and internal users. Most seem to like the site’s simplicity, the base map and the fact that they can access documents that used to require a trip down to the government center. Anoka County GIS hopes to deploy several more FLEX-based GIS web applications in the near future.