Summer 2009

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

From the Chair
Conference Update
Scholarship Winners
Lifetime/Polaris Nominations

Drive to Excellence Update
Emerald Ash Borer Tracking
New Catchment Boundaries
M3D Update
MN Broadband Maps

Governor's Council
CTU/USNG Standards
Red River Flood GIS
RNC Presentation
Commendation Nominations

Natural Resources Atlas

Red River Flood - Moorhead
Ag Emergency Plan - Steele Co.
Crime Maps & GeoMoose
Laurentian Collaborative
Ramsey Co GIS Group


Higher Education
GISSO Job Fair
Reclaim Lost Land

Other Places
ND GIS Conference
Sticky/Magnetic States



Minnesota 3D – Tapping into the Pulse of a Challenging Time
By Jessica Fendos, Department of Employment and Economic Development

M3D is a dynamic web mapping portal developed by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to provide an express pathway to Local Employment Dynamics (LED), employment and economic development, and other socioeconomic data for Minnesota.  It was originally developed as a tool to map worker flows across the Twin Cities region, but now operates statewide and is useful for many other purposes.  Three data displays – maps, reports, and charts – can be generated in and exported from its easy-to-use interface.

Version 3 New Release

Tough decisions are called for during difficult times. Identifying available resources and areas in need of reinvestment is the first step in Minnesota’s preparation for economic recovery. With the mission to better serve individuals, businesses, and policy makers, the Department of Employment and Economic Development released Minnesota 3D V.3 (M3D) on April 28, 2009, which delivers interactive maps and reports on current issues such as housing and foreclosures and employment and unemployment trends. M3D now hosts a wide array of data layers statewide--from Census Origin-Destination commute/labor shed data to workforce, economic development, demographics, and financial information.

Data Enhancements

By working with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, a long-time partner in the design of M3D, many layers have been expanded statewide in V.3. Data resolution is quite fine, often at the individual site, block or block group level.  Topics of interest that can be mapped in M3D are as follows.

  • Commuting patterns
  • Worker characteristics
  • Jobs by industry
  • Industry clusters
  • Employment and unemployment trends
  • Workforce services including WorkForce Centers, affordable housing, and child care facilities, K-12 schools, colleges and universities
  • Population demographics including race, educational level, and income
  • Housing characteristics including foreclosures, housing density, median rent, loan originations, and building permits
  • Land use
  • Sales tax revenue
  • Public transportation, including publicly funded airports, streets, highways, bus routes, light rail, and park and ride stations
  • Political and administrative boundaries

To see a list of data contributors please visit

Functionality Upgrades
In addition to expanded data coverage, advanced functionality is also delivered in M3D V.3. Some highlights are demonstrated below.

*Equipped with advanced geography selection tools , a user can create paired-area analyses and select multiple polygons and freehand drawing when generating maps and reports. Click on thumbnails to see examples.

 *New charting functionality is added to dynamic maps and reports to display important trends at a glance.
*Service layers are integrated with Google Maps and MinnesotaWorks.Net to help job seekers locate Minnesota Workforce Centers and other resources during job search.
* M3D also aids policy making for workforce and development projects by connecting users to internal and external resources from the employment, unemployment, and housing layers.

Use Cases

Dynamic maps, reports, and charts offered in M3D are useful for DEED workforce and economic development staff to better serve our customers. For example, on the Northland Regional Economic Development Strategy 2009 project (U.S. DOL Regional Innovation Grant), Northeast Region Labor Market Analyst Drew Digby said “I get requests on a regular basis about commute patterns, industry concentration, population demographics, sales tax revenue, workforce services…. A mapping application like M3D will be fantastic for this region.”

Local governments also benefit from the use of M3D. The City of Chaska was an early adopter of M3D as it sought to attract employers who matched the skill sets of area residents. Senior Planner Glen Markegard from the City of Bloomington Planning and Economic Development Division stated that DEED's online M3D Application has been very helpful for Bloomington's planning efforts.  “With it, we can quickly see where people working in Bloomington live and where people living in Bloomington work, both at the city and census tract level.  We’ve used M3D to assist with updates to our Comprehensive Plan and various District Plans.”

In other functions, since the first version was released in 2006, CURA has used M3D to help community and economic development endeavors throughout the region. This May, M3D was featured at the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership meeting held in Minneapolis. Elissa Schloesser at HousingLink, provider of affordable housing inventory and foreclosure data, said “M3D helps to identify areas at a macro level that are experiencing the impact of the housing crisis the greatest. By having information readily available to represent the big picture, it allows more time to focus efforts on responding to the housing crisis.”

Technology used

M3D is built using an open source bundle integrating University of Minnesota MapServer, Chameleon, and Postgres SQL (PostGIS).  To learn more about M3D V.3, please visit  For questions and comments, please contact Jessica Fendos, GIS Applications Developer, at or 651-259-7389.