GIS covers Fargo-Moorhead area
The Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., metropolitan area — with a population of 155,000 located in four major cities and two counties — began considering GIS technology to streamline data operations in mid-1992.
The Metropolitan GIS Committee, consisting of 12 members from interested government entities, universities and private organizations, was formed to guide the development of the area’s GIS, and the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (F-M COG), the metropolitan planning organization, provides administrative support.
A feasibility study, conducted by EMA Services, St. Paul, Minn., showed that a cooperative land-base development and sharing arrangement between participating agencies was the most feasible alternative.
But, with multiple organizations involved, interagency structure was need, ed to define the authority, responsibility, chain of command, staffing level and other management characteristics. A written agreement between the participants was required to clarify roles and responsibilities.
A GIS land-base map consortium was established with F-M COG coordinating development and maintenance of the area-wide land-base map. Because only the land-base map is centralized, participants are free to pursue independent GIS systems.
The organizational structure was formalized by the Land Base Data Sharing Agreement that defines mapping standards including layering scheme, accuracy, data sharing time-frames, mapping standards, public access and the sale of digital map data.
In designing the new system, officials considered the intended land-base data needs and applications of the participating jurisdictions, fundamental concepts of GIS/mapping systems, land base creation and data communications, site conditions, existing systems and communication facilities and current status of GIS/mapping technology and new developments that affected multi-participant data sharing within the metropolitan area.
The conceptual design described the function and purpose of hardware and software and the interrelationships between the various systems and applications, providing a basis to review system requirements, make refinements, estimate costs and lay a foundation for the more detailed procurement specifications. The conceptual design also described the development and evolution of the system in phases reflecting expected growth with new users, potential applications and an expanded land base.
The first phase of the three-phase project involves initial configuration. F-M COG is developing and maintaining common land-base data as well as any specific applications for all areas within the two-county area except Fargo and Moorhead, who are developing and maintaining their own systems, specific data and applications, including common land-base features that are being shared with F-M COG.
Smaller jurisdictions benefit by having low overhead costs as well as having access to mapping services that they would not normally have. Participants benefit from land-base map data that are to scale and compatible with all other jurisdictions.
In the second phase, intermediate configuration, F-M COG will continue to maintain data, but automated mapping services for smaller jurisdictions and counties will slowly diminish as these organizations build systems of their own.
As the system evolves, those who did not previously have systems will become more independent. An intermediate step will be to acquire personal GIS work stations allowing users to log on to a land-base map file server to access and view data.
Phase three, ultimate configuration, will make each jurisdiction responsible for maintaining land-base features within their boundaries as well as any specific features that they wish to maintain as overlays to the land base. F-M COG will be responsible for enforcing the mapping standards set up by the consortium committee and will also see that the pieces from each jurisdiction are assembled into the common land base.
Systems in the smaller jurisdictions will be upgraded so that all jurisdictions share equal responsibitity for developing and maintaining land-base map data. Each will maintain the portion of the map that exists within their boundaries and provide updates to F-M COG on a regular basis.