Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Defining Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS, or Geographic Information System, is a computerized mapping and database program that allows for the capture, storage, display, analysis, and management of any data linked to a location. Or, as I prefer to suggest, "GIS is a smart map"! Ask the GIS a question and it quickly provides an answer in the form of a map or report. Want to know the zoning designation of a property? Present that question to the GIS and it quickly provides a text and graphical answer. How many people live within 1 mile of a shopping center? With GIS you quickly can find this answer. Where is the closest Park in relation to where I live? These are all simple questions that the GIS can readily answer. Of course information such as population, streets, properties, zoning, and parks need to be present within the GIS for it to provide these answers. Fortunately, that is why Modesto has this information within its GIS and is continually developing and managing additional GIS data.

Benefits of GIS

Most of the information that Modesto collects, maintains, tracks, or analyzes in its normal course of business is referenced to a geographic location. For example, a utility bill has a reference to a service address and billing address. A business license is related to a physical property address. A single zoning designation may cover an entire neighborhood or sometimes only a few properties. And a water valve, fire hydrant, or water meter may be located in proximity to a physical property address. By collecting and entering this data into the GIS, Modesto not only is obtaining a current inventory of infrastructure, customers, or planning information, but is providing staff with the tools and ability to more effectively manage, analyze, and rapidly obtain informational needs. Listed below are several examples of how Modesto is utilizing GIS to streamline its everyday business.
  • Our traditional method for managing maps has been a manual drafting and paper based process. Unfortunately, as our City has grown, the volume of paper maps and data has increased dramatically. The search for map documents showing pertinent utility information can be an extremely time consuming process when performed manually; however, GIS allows us too readily access utility data and other map types simply by referencing a location on a map.
  • The manual process of identifying property owners and then preparing mailing labels for the purpose of a public notification can easily take several hours to complete. With GIS the public notification process can be accomplished in 5 minutes or less.
  • Evaluating the location for the City’s next Fire Station is a very important task and one that is not considered lightly. Utilizing GIS technology, the City can effectively and expeditiously evaluate multiple sites and scenarios with confidence that the most strategic location has been identified.

GIS Mission

Provide services and tools to manage and access any City assets, documents, records, and resources which are tied to a location.

What We Do

Located within the Information Technology Department, the GIS Division provides computer software, data, tools, and personnel to manage, access, analyze, and present location based (spatial) information.

We also provide numerous other services:
  • Applications Development
  • Data Collection
  • Map and Database Development
  • Map Creation for the City of Modesto Map/data Maintenance
  • Projects Creation
  • Training