Contact Us   |   Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Join
Community Search
Preliminary Results of 2000 GIS Data Needs Survey
Share |

by Les Maki, DNR, Don Yaeger, LMIC and Will Craig, CURA

During October through December of 2000, your Consortium, in conjunction with the Minnesota Governor's Council on Geographic Information, conducted a web-based survey of GIS data needs in Minnesota. This survey, which was completed by nearly 250 respondents, updates a survey done in 1994 by the University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs in cooperation with the same two groups. Some very preliminary results of the new survey follow below. A more detailed analysis will be delivered at the annual Conference this October in Duluth, will be publicized in this Newsletter, and will also be available over the Internet.

Many needs remain the same as in 1994 - The first observation of the survey results show that, in aggregate, the top six data needs remain virtually the same as the 1994 survey, only the order is slightly changed. In 2000, digital soil data remains the highest priority item with nearly half of all respondents listing it in their top five needs. After soil data, the highest ranking priorities were elevation data (DEMs or contours), digital imagery (DOQs, air photos, satellite imagery), parcel information (Public Land Survey, section corners, section points and ownership), land use/cover, and several water information data sets. In 1994, the top six data needs were soils, parcels, wetlands, land use/cover, public land survey information, and satellite/orthophoto images.

State and Federal needs differ from those of Local Government - Preliminary analysis by category of respondent also shows little difference from 1994. Most state and federal agencies continue to want completed statewide coverage for key data layers such as soils. In addition they want more up-to-date or current data (at 1:24,000 to 1:12,000 scales) for topics such as orthophotos, land use and land cover. Meanwhile, county and other local responders want more parcel-based information along with other more detailed, large-scale data (such as DEMs, imagery, hydro features and land use / land cover).

Four major data need patterns are evident - First, for almost any data topic, users would like to have larger scale data. Maybe it's human nature to never be satisfied with what you've got. The positive way to look at this response is that people are using existing data to the extent they can, but more detail would be even more useful. They are somewhat willing to use any available data when the 'perfect' data doesn't exist. The second observation from the survey is that users desire more current information especially for volatile data sets such as imagery and land use/cover. The third observation is the need to fill in the holes and complete statewide coverage for high priority GIS layers such as soils. The final observation is there are some potential users who do not know about the availability of existing GIS datasets. This seems to indicate there needs to be even better information to potential users on just what GIS data is available and better mechanisms to easily deliver data to users. If you want to search for data available for your area, it is suggested that you search the Minnesota GeoGateway at

Recent spending has been focused on many priority needs - For the last decade, the state, federal and local data collection programs have spent considerable funds on GIS data development. The good news is that a vast majority of those funds have been spent in the areas of highest data need. Through state and federal cooperative funding programs:

  • Digital soil mapping has been greatly accelerated in both non-metro and metro Minnesota
  • Statewide data sets have been completed for Digital Orthophoto quads (DOQs) and 30-meter Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), and digital USGS topographic maps (DRGs)
  • A state land use/cover map was published and the digital files have been made available
  • A number of statewide hydrologic data sets are in progress, nearing completion.

However, the Needs Survey seems to indicate that, to many users, many of these key data sets are now dated, bordering on obsolete. This points out the tremendous need for the state to continuously fund updating of these basic resource inventories.

More analysis to be done - There is still more information that needs to be determined from the survey results. Analysis will be continued by the joint Council / Consortium workgroup with a more in-depth report to be available by the time of the fall 2001 GIS/LIS Conference. For more information, contact

more Calendar

The upcoming calendar is currently empty.

Click here to view past events and photos »

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal