|LCC-GIS Open Source and Redistricting Efforts
By Lee Meilleur, Legislative Coordinating Commission GIS Office
The Legislative Coordinating Commission GIS Office consists of a 2 1/2 person staff responsible for providing IT support for all Commissions’ offices while also providing GIS support to the Legislature. A main current responsibility on the GIS front is to support the Census Bureau with its Redistricting 2010 Data Program and prepare the Legislature for the 2010 redistricting effort.
Open Source Prototypes to Aid Redistricting
In preparing for the upcoming redistricting effort, the office has been researching new technologies for both the creation of redistricting plans and the reporting and analysis of submitted plans.
A prototype of an online redistricting application has been developed utilizing open source technologies such as MapServer, PostGIS, GeoMoose and PHP. Quite simply, users select different census geographies to create equal population districts and export plans into block equivalency files. While legislative leadership has yet to decide if this is a path they wish to pursue, the idea has been discussed in recent years.
A prototype redistricting reporting and mapping system is also being worked on, which provides interactive reports that link to interactive maps, along with the ability to print PDF maps and reports. These were also developed with MapServer, PostGIS, GeoMoose and PHP. Users can sort reports by clicking on any field, or view maps by clicking on district numbers within the reports (see graphic).
The main goal of the updated reporting and mapping system was to reduce the time needed to process a plan. During the 2001-02 efforts, preparing a plan for the web could take up to 4 hours and would only create static PDFs of maps and reports. With the system being developed for 2011-12, the idea is to plug the block equivalency file directly into the PostGIS database server for any plan, and then the reports and maps would be generated on the fly.
Block Boundary Verification
In preparation for redistricting, LCC-GIS is currently participating in the VTD/BBSP (Voting Tabulation District/Block Boundary Suggestion Program). In a nutshell, it's a program to help the Census Bureau correctly identify block boundaries which will then be used for spatially delineating the census. This portion of the program, referred to as Phase II, needs to be completed by May of 2009. Following this is the Verification Phase, which allows participating states to make additional corrections to block boundaries that didn't show up during the first phase.
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