Town of Culpeper officials plan to unveil a new and much improved Geographic Information Systems (GIS) website Tuesday.
The new Online GIS site replaces outdated software and provides many new and exciting features, including aerial photography previously unavailable under the old format.
The new Internet-based application relies on a simple and intuitive mapping interface, which allows users to download and access local government real estate tax data and geographic maps.
The six-month long project to revamp the Online GIS experience was aided by survey results from various GIS users to determine what features users wanted.
“We tried to incorporate the most requested new features into the project”, said GIS Coordinator Autumn Fitch.
The town’s GIS staff worked with Roanoke-based contractor Sitevision, Inc. to create the new site. Much of the work converting old drawing files to the new format and initial mapping set up was performed by the town’s staff to save money. The total conversion project managed to stay within the existing GIS budget, with no additional cost to taxpayers.
Unlike the older GIS system, the new one doesn’t require downloading special software to view the program. The updated site is optimized for Google Chrome.
“The biggest thing is it is cross compatible with so many browsers,” said Fitch, mentioning Internet Explorer, Safari and Fire Fox as examples.
The new site can be accessed from tablets and smart phones as well as traditional computers.
The town’s geographic mapping layers will be maintained in-house by the GIS team, under supervision from the town’s IT Department. Layers can now be updated monthly or as needed.
However, the real estate tax database provided by the Culpeper County Assessor’s Office is directly linked and only updated quarterly.
“When the site goes live, the database will be accurate through Oct. 30,” said Fitch. “The latest revision dates are posted below the mapping window on the new site.”
Aerial photography proved to be the most requested feature for the new site. Currently, the site uses photos from 2009, but when the state releases the latest images taken in 2013 those updated pictures will be displayed on the site.
Other new features include map layers for future land use and school district boundaries. Also added are additional tax data and property card information regarding existing land use and zoning codes, outbuildings and total assessment values, year built and last sold dates.
There are links to the county’s assessor’s office, directions from Google Maps as well as enhanced printing capability and search functions, with new icons for Points of Interest such as churches, cemeteries and more public buildings.
Town Council will get a brief preview of the new website at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
However, the GIS staff will be hosting a public open house to demonstrate and answer questions about the new program. The open house will be held between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the Third Floor Conference Room at Town Hall at 400 S. South Main St.
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