Winter 2007-8

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

Conference Review
From the Chair
Competition Results
Budget News

GLO Notes Online
Ag/DNR Collaboration Water/Utilities/Telecom Info
NSGIC highlights

Governor's Council
Open for Requests

MetroGIS Business Plan

Goodhue Wetland Model

Pipeline Viewer
Stream Class Problems
Computer Energy Standards

Higher Education
UofM GIS Portfolio
Certificate at Mankato
St. Mary's Update

K-12 Education
MIIM Internet Mapper

GITA Conference

Craig Wins Award
Zenk NGS Advisor

Other Places
GIS Jobs in Demand
Landsat Island


Direct Data Sharing between MDA and DNR Reaping Benefits

In Fall 2006, the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Natural Resources (DNR) initiated a unique data sharing agreement that goes a step beyond the post-and-download routines employed elsewhere. One year later, both agencies are seeing the benefits of the collaboration in saved time and effort.

“I guess it all started with my excessive complaining,” laughs Mike Dolbow, MDA GIS Coordinator. He recalls visiting with DNR Chief Information Officer Robert Maki, who was the supervisor of the DNR’s GIS unit at the time, and asking about the best way to download, file, and serve large, tiled DNR data sets to his dozens of internal GIS users. Before long, Maki and current GIS supervisor Tim Loesch approached Dolbow with an unusual proposal: DNR would build and maintain a remote “Data Resource Site” (DRS) at MDA, just as DNR already does for its central and regional offices.

To Dolbow, this made perfect sense. Instead of spending considerable time downloading, filing and serving base data to his users, DNR would create a copy of their data on a server housed by MDA, and assist with configuring it for direct network communications between the two agencies. Then, using systems established for its regional offices, DNR would update those data layers as needed. It would also pull in new data sets authored and documented by MDA, for internal publishing across DNR or even the Data Deli.

The “AgDRS” has been in place receiving and sending updates for almost a year now. Dolbow reports that while there were some initial challenges, overall, MDA is thrilled with the new arrangement. “Now I have a system in place that not only keeps our base data current, it drives our applications, our documentation, and our data publishing – allowing me to focus on using GIS to solve problems.”

Happy to provide the service, Loesch says that DNR is seeing benefits on their end as well. “Mike and his users have used our data to create an alternate basemap with symbolization optimized for ArcGIS. Through this agreement, now DNR users have access to this basemap as well as new data from MDA, giving them additional options for their own projects.”

MDA and DNR leadership consider this to be a classic case of two organizations capitalizing on similar business needs, demonstrating the “shared services” concept within the framework of the state’s strategic IT vision. Eager to benefit from and contribute to an established system built by an experienced agency, Dolbow only wishes someone had considered the idea earlier. “I had already built a brand new data library for my users that they really liked, but I was struggling to keep it updated while tending to all our other needs. I guess sometimes you have to see a system fail before the obvious solution presents itself. And in this case, the squeaky wheel definitely got some grease!”

For more information on the AgDRS, contact Mike Dolbow at or 651-201-6497; or Tim Loesch, or 651-259-5475.

Due to the success of this collaboration, any ArcGIS user in MDA or DNR can quickly make this map of MDA's Surface Water Monitoring Sites, shown on top of DNR-maintained base data.