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Indiana University Northwest

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Northwest Indiana GIS Forum
Meeting Notes
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Meeting Location: Indiana University Northwest

Members in Attendance:  Rex Burton; Jacob Carringer, Lake County Parks; Conni Clay, Save the Dunes Council; John Dashiell, FHLBI; Kim Holmquist, School City of Hammond; Betty Keichle, Lake County Surveyor's Office; Shannan Lefever, NIRPC; Morton Marcus; Becky McKinley, Hammond Sanitary District;  Kathy Mohlke, DLZ; Cele Morris, IUN/NWI Center for Data & Analysis;  Richard Morrisroe, City of East Chicago; Jennifer Nebe, Save the Dunes Conservation Fund; Dan Niksch, City of Crown Point Engineering;  George Olmsted; Dan Rieden, Lake County Parks; Alan Resetar, The Field Museum; Lauren Rhein, NIRPC;  Diane Thalmann, NIRPC

Local Implementation

Hammond Sanitary District - Becky McKinley has been busy training her new assistant.  Recent flooding episodes in Hammond have been mapped.  Flood data accumulated over the last ten years is being analyzed to determine priority service areas in the City.  Negotiations are underway between city departments to purchase parcel data from Lake County.  Parcel data will be used to reconcile municipal zoning and to focus project work down to the parcel level. 

It is expected that the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Northwest will offer a GIS class in the spring.  The Data Center is focusing on metadata activities to be reported on later in the meeting.

The City of Crown Point has completed a second update to their zoning map.  Brochures have been created for the Parks Department.  Data collection for new development within the city continues.  The Police Department is using new subdivision maps.  Maps have been created locating sex offenders in the city to determine distance from public child care facilities.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) is working on several projects using GIS.  The 20-30 Safety Compliance report will use state automobile accident data to determine locations of high concentrations of accidents.  They are also responsible for creating a comprehensive land use plan for the region.  Regional municipalities are currently being assisted by NIRPC personnel during the land use data collection  period.  The project will help to indicate inconsistencies at municipal boundaries.

Lake County is in year 5 of its GIS project.  The section corner location project is complete.  Hydrologic data is being gathered.  Work continues, in different degrees, on the seven, state recommended, GIS base layers. The first five years of the County GIS project have been geared towards data creation.  Implementation is the next stage.  Future funding for GIS is always an issue.

The City of East Chicago plans to build on existing GIS data and will participate in the Lake Rim GIS update project.

Meeting visitor, Morton Marcus, suggested that the NWI GIS Forum become more visible to the general public by inviting the press to our meetings.    He also stressed the importance of showing local government officials the value of GIS through demonstrations of the technology. 

Conni Clay of Save the Dunes Council added that public perception is a powerful tool that can be used to promote GIS in the region.  The Council uses GIS to identify properties that might be added to National Lakeshore.  Save the Dunes Conservation Fund, Water Quality Program is refining maps with new data for wetlands and land use.  They have also been using GPS equipment to collect data for maps.

Lake County Parks has had the help of two interns this summer.  They have collected water quality information in areas that are environmentally sensitive.  Hand written records describing prescribed burns in natural areas have been digitized.  A successful presentation showcasing GIS was offered to administration this summer.  Funding for upgrades to current GIS Software is a concern.  Work is presently being done in AutoCAD.  Annotation problems occur when converting to GIS.  It was suggested that specific tools may be available to help with that problem.  Since many county parks are crossed by power lines,  it would be helpful to gain access to data held by utility companies.  Geocaching has become a popular activity for the public.  With the support of Lake County Parks, geocachers have set up a site at  Buckley Homestead in Lowell with a historical twist.

The NIPSCO, Economic Development Department realizes the usefulness of GIS and wishes to convey its importance to public officials.  GIS can be used as a tool by local economic development organizations as they strive to bring new people and businesses to Northwest Indiana.

DLZ is collecting locations of section corners for a project in Newton County.  They are also collecting data for the military.

NWI GIS Forum Activities


IDEM continues to support GIS training in Northwest Indiana by donating training materials for two ArcGIS 9.2 sessions this year.  Free, 2 day,  certified ArcGIS 9.2 training session conducted by Becky McKinley in the IUN GIS lab are expected to be scheduled for this fall.  IUN is in the process of upgrading the GIS lab to ArcGIS 9.2 and the Vista operating system.  Once the lab build is complete, training sessions will be advertised via the NWI GIS Forum listserv.  Contact  Becky McKinley for information.

Visit the ESRI website for any additional free webinars currently available. 

CAP Grant Status/Activity

Cele reported that the 2005 CAP (Cooperative Agreements Program) funding period will terminate August 31, 2007.  Much of the funding was spent last summer providing metadata  presentations around the state during the 2005 Statewide aerial photography rollout.   She will complete the final report as part of that funding.  The Data Center received 2007 Federal Geographic Data Committee CAP funding to continue metadata outreach and training activities.  Cele attended a kickoff meeting in Denver in mid May to present the project.  Funded activities will include continued basic metadata training and outreach, metadata assistance to data providers to the Lake Rim upgrade project, and engagement of those familiar with data documentation through possible "metadata retreats".  An Introduction to Metadata, full day workshop is currently being assembled for this fall and will be advertised through the NWI GIS Forum listserv in the near future.

Lake Rim GIS Update

Funding has been secured to update the Indiana Geological Survey interactive mapping website,  Lake Rim GIS.  A meeting was held at Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission offices in May to present the plan and request feedback from interested parties.  During May, an online survey was available requesting information related to website usage, user demographics, and preferences.  72 respondents participated in varying degrees.  Some of the results of the survey follow:

  • Based on the results of the survey, it is apparent that website users are interested in the inclusion of up-to-date orthophotos, parcels and regional layers outside Indiana such as Cook/Dupage counties in Illinois and Berrien county in Michigan. 

  • Many of the suggestions related to upgraded function of the website can be achieved by moving to a viewer similar to the Indiana GIS Atlas.

  • Test of a beta site is underway.

  • IGS is updating regional layers they have in possession as well as incorporating local data acquired from Kevin Miller.

  • Static web pages supporting the site are being designed. 

  • New functionality may include some pre-defined maps and zoom to pre-selected areas.


Meeting notes will continue to be posted to the  NWI GIS Forum website as soon as possible after meetings (click on Minutes).  Resource links were recently checked and updated/removed where necessary.  Please contact Cele Morris with any comments or input on the website.

Due to changes in Indiana Geological Survey hardware and software, the Online Metadata Tool is not currently functional.  The IGS advises that they hope to be able to upgrade the Tool to provide a more user friendly interface by the end of summer.

IGIC Report

IGIC now provides Presenter Kits via its website.  Each kid contains a Powerpoint presentation and includes notes on a variety of basic GIS topics.  Thanks to a grant from IndianaView, IGIC has developed a series of materials that anyone can download and use to understand and explain the power of GIS.

The IGIC Education Committee has arranged a number of interesting seminars and online webinars through the year on a variety of subjects.  All are free to IGIC members.  A small fee is charged to nonmembers. 

Other Business

The Northwestern Regional Planning Commission will host training session for the US Census Bureau, LUCA (Local Update Census Address) program.  Sessions will be held on September 25 and October 23 at NIRPC headquarters in Portage.  Contact Lauren Rhein for more information.

Forward any comments or suggestions, including presentation topics or possible demonstrations for the 2008 Indiana State GIS conference to Deb Martin GIS Manager, Dept. of Public Works, South Bend.

Next Meeting: The next meeting -  in October - to be announced , at Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission