GIS: Putting Geographic Information Systems to Work For You
What is a Geographic Information System? A Geographic Information System, or GIS, is a highly technical computer-based system that combines layers of information about any given geographic location in order to provide a better understanding of that location. The layers and the data that are combined depend on the type of information needed - reviewing population statistics, analyzing environmental conditions, following urban development trends, and so on.
The Harris County Flood Control District utilizes GIS extensively in many aspects of the District's mission. The mission of the District is to provide flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values. The District accomplishes its mission by:
Devising the flood damage reduction plans;
Implementing the plans; and
Maintaining the infrastructure.
Success in each of the elements of the District's mission depends on proper integration and analysis of GIS-related data. We plan and build flood damage reduction projects using detailed information about the lay of the land in a given area - information like land features, elevations or street systems - all instantly available within the GIS environment. Once projects are built and become part of Harris County's vast 2,500-mile, multi-billion dollar stormwater drainage system, GIS is used to inventory the system. The inventory is always available and up-to-date, so maintenance and potential problems can be quickly tracked and resolved. Also, increased quality of life is assured through close GIS monitoring of environmental conditions and other aspects that affect the community.
Custom GIS Applications Work for the District... and the Public
The possibilities and uses for GIS at the District are virtually limitless, and the custom applications the District uses to achieve flood damage reduction greatly expand our capabilities to get the job done.
Our custom applications provide vital data analysis for project planning, assist with project tracking, provide a means for interaction between the District and other government agencies, manage the stormwater drainage network inventory, prioritize home buyout and removal, address service requests, and even geographically reference hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, just to name a few of the capabilities.
With the integration of GIS into the District's workflow, getting projects off the paper and in the ground is done much more efficiently.
GIS in Action for The District
GIS-Based Map Books The District's Information Services Department has published a series of three unique map books that serve a variety of needs for various divisions within the District. They offer a wide range of layered detail for users and rival the quality of any published map book. Each book was also exported to PDF format in order to deliver the same District-related GIS data digitally to other Harris County agencies that may need access to that information.
LiDAR & GIS: A Vital Combination of Geotechnology and Engineering
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. Millions of laser measurements are taken from a specially-equipped airplane that gathers precise ground elevation data. When combined with engineering and Geographic Information Systems, the District is able to provide the public with better and more efficient flood damage reduction projects.
Home Buyout and Demolition GIS Application
This application streamlines the management of home buyout and demolition scheduling for the District. Multiple demolitions can be scheduled and tracked by county region, saving valuable time and taxpayer dollars so crews work more efficiently and the most flood-prone, bought-out homes are forever removed from harm's way, never to flood again.
Citizen Service Requests GIS Application
This application lets District employees utilize the GIS system to map the location of any concerns reported to the District's Citizen Service Center. Also available are locations of other requests in the area. The specific service request is automatically selected, highlighted, centered on the map, and detailed information is displayed. The user can also click built-in hyperlinks to "drill down" for additional data.
Tracking Localized Demographics Understanding the complete makeup of residents in specific geographic areas aids the District in the planning of projects, gives us a broader understanding of the community, and greatly helps us disseminate information intended for specific target audiences. For instance, if Census data in GIS-based demographic maps indicate that most residents in a specific area use Spanish as a first language in their households, the District can more effectively communicate important information about on-going or upcoming activities.
Outfield GIS: Combining GPS Satellite Technology with Data Collection With the assistance of lightweight laser equipment and digital photography, thousands of points are captured and geocoded using global positioning satellites, and then they are inventoried into the District's Outfield GIS application via a hand-held mini-computer. It stores all relevant field geo-data before being transferred onto the District's main system. Outfield GIS enables the District to accurately monitor the condition of the stormwater drainage system and also to plan more efficiently for future flood damage reduction projects.
Delivering GIS to You Your world is affected by GIS more than you may realize, and the District delivers the data you need to be better informed by harnessing GIS's powerful ability to graphically illustrate and organize that data. One way we're doing it is via the Internet.
The Power of GIS in the User's Hands The Harris County Flood Control District's main website delivers content that is first derived by our own GIS technicians. Once the exhibits are created, the transfer to the Internet is seamless. Soon, a robust multimedia tool will be available on this site that will deliver powerful, live GIS content in ways never before achieved by an area government agency. Most District activities and daily information on projects will be at the fingertips of the public any time of day.
Informing the Public With a Variety of Media Printed exhibits are also a mainstay for delivering relevant geographic information to residents, businesses, educators, engineers and elected officials.
GIS keeps the public in the know, helps our employees do their jobs and, most importantly, helps the District fulfill its mission for you.