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A GIS (Geographic Information System) is a system for management, analysis, and display of geographic knowledge, which is represented using a series of information sets such as maps layers, geographic data sets, processing and work flow models, data models, and metadata (data about data). A GIS can produce information that answers specific questions and allows you to share that information with others. By visualizing relationships, connections, and patterns in data, you can make informed decisions and increase efficiency throughout the organization. The main elements of a GIS are: Software, Hardware, Data, Procedures, and People. If any one of these elements is missing or under supported, the GIS will not function properly.
An Enterprise GIS is an integrated, multi-departmental system of components used to collect, organize, analyze, visualize, and disseminate geographic information using a distributed network architecture.
Among its many opportunities and benefits, enterprise GIS can streamline work processes, integrate data and systems, reduce duplication of effort and data, enable rapid response to new demands, and best leverage an organization’s spatial data and technology investments. It also helps the organization manage and protect its spatial data and technology assets.
The Washington County GIS Office is the enterprise GIS hub for Washington County government. It supports all the other departments that have their own GIS staff and those smaller ones without any GIS staff. It establishes the Mission – Vision – Goals – and Objectives for the GIS on the county level. It also sets priorities and direction, sets an example of data stewardship and manages expectations. It coordinates policy, and assures quality through setting standards.
The GIS Office coordinates with other governments and agencies at all levels, local, state and federal in matters related to GIS, as well as non-profit organizations. It generates and executes MOU’s and applies for and administers grants. It keeps the public and the private sector informed of available data and services. It maintains the GIS software licenses and organizes training, manages the county user group meetings, local community GIS committee, and the executive steering committee.
The GIS Office works to acquire additional data from various sources. It maintains the database of GIS layers, and manages the server providing data to county employees. It is the contact point for anyone wishing to acquire licensed GIS data, the engineering/surveyor community, the general public, other government agencies or non-profits. It also creates and maintains the public and intra-net web map.