Would GIS be helpful to county?

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2004

A Rockford, Ill., company would like for Lawrence County leaders to stay more connected to their constituents.

Thursday an executive with Map Research Technologies, Inc., offered a way for them to do that.

Derrell Owens, vice president of MRT, demonstrated computerized mapping system software that would take local information, tailor it to specific needs and build a database that is aimed at helping government officials deliver services and maintain information more effectively.

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According to its Web site, MRT, founded in 1996, produces digital geographic products, focussing on county governments.

The GIS could have numerous applications. The county auditor's office could use such a system to keep track of property assessments, 911 could use it to help emergency services personnel locate houses more quickly, utility companies could use it to track areas with and without service and economic development leaders could use it to keep track of areas of growth and available land for prospective development.

"A company comes and says 'we need 20 acres of land by a railroad' and you can say 'here's seven parcels of land,'" Owens said.

Owens said the system is limited only by the imagination.

MRT has completed mapping projects in Scioto, Jackson and Pike counties, as well as in other areas of the state. Owens said Knox County uses this system for its 911. He also said he has spoken with the county health department, Decatur Township officials, Union-Rome Sewer officials and other entities.

The basic level of service costs approximately $500,000 - a steep price for a county with a tight budget.

Lawrence County Commission President Doug Malone said if grant money could be made available

to pay for it, the GIS could be a useful tool for a number of agencies.

"If we could find avenues to finance it, it would be very possible," Malone said.