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Indiana University Northwest

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Northwest Indiana GIS Forum
Meeting Notes
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 -  9:00 - 11:00 am
Meeting Location: Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission

Members in Attendance:  Jason Dravet, Town of St. John; Michael Duffy, Duneland Group, Inc.; Mike Essling, INDOT; Mathew Hay, NIRPC; James Kaspar, INDOT; Nada Lehmann, EcoNatives; Elizabeth Loudermilk, Indiana American Water; Becky McKinley, Hammond Sanitary District; Cele Morris, IUN/NWI Center for Data & Analysis;  Dan Niksch, City of Crown Point Engineering;  George Olmsted, IUN; Spike Peller, INDOT; Lauren Rhein, NIRPC; Doug Sharpe; Tim Sutherland, IUN; Michael Zabrecky

Local Implementation

As a representative of Hammond, Becky is currently participating in discussions led by NIRPC regarding the creation of a Multi Hazard Mitigation plan for Lake and Porter Counties.  FEMA requires the report from municipalities requesting funds for planning purposes.  There is a strong GIS component related with this project.  POLIS Center has been contracted for the GIS work.  This should provide a comprehensive view of flooding in these counties and will hopefully provide some answers on how to alleviate future flooding problems.  All communities in Lake and Porter County have been invited to participate in meetings.  She also recently attended 911 mapping training sponsored by the Lake County Sheriff's Department.  Corrections submitted by Hammond for the 2010 US Census, Local Update of Census Addresses program (LUCA) are under reviewed.  Work continues with the Lake County Housing Task Force as it keeps track of foreclosures in the county.  Becky's project involves downloading and geocoding data from the Sheriff's foreclosure reports.  Clusters can then be identified for local decision makers.  Based on this data, funding can be requested from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program to provide emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) provides grants to every state and certain local communities to purchase foreclosed or abandoned homes and to rehabilitate, resell, or redevelop these homes in order to stabilize neighborhoods and stem the decline of house values of neighboring homes. 

The Data Center at Indiana University Northwest assisted faculty with a project to gather data for a grant proposal aimed at funding expansion of a Head Start and Early Head Start program for Elkhart/St. Joseph County.   The go-ahead has been given from the Lake Michigan Coastal program to proceed with grant funding that will provide for  creation of basic GIS educational workshops.  Training is intended to serve persons working on projects in the Lake Michigan watershed without access to expensive GIS software.  Free GIS software such as Accuglobe, Arc Explorer and Google Maps will be utilized for training.  The reference area of the library has been remodeled recently.  New carpeting, computers and workstations have been installed giving the "Information Commons" a fresh look.  In addition, through LSTA ( Library Services and Technology Act) grant funding, an Adaptive Technology Room is being outfitted with computer equipment for members of the public and students with disabilities in a room off this new area.

Doug Sharpe recently retired from Purdue Calumet and is currently enrolled in a GIS certificate program and UIC.  He would like to assist in local projects.

George Olmsted participated in a GIS project for the City of Gary mapping locations of vacant houses.

INDOT - LaPorte District office looks to incorporate GIS into its project tracking system.  Each project can be mapped and maintenance records can be coordinated to the appropriate project number.  They seek additional tools for their projects. 

The City of Crown Point continues to identify city properties previously not billed a storm water fee.  A new  georeferenced, "Street View" product contracted for by the city will be delivered shortly.  It is anticipated that utility data will be used with this application.  They are also mapping MS4 facilities.

Indiana American Water is completing a project to map infrastructure such as pipe length, fittings, valves and hydrants in their service area.  An implementation plan is being discussed.  A position currently exists in the northwest office for someone with GIS background. 

NIRPC is working on a comprehensive regional plan for 2040.  Cluster workshops will be taking place around the region in September to gather comments from the general public.  Maps showing regional existing and planned multi-use trails, motorized networks, landuse, watershed and demographics are being prepared for the events.  Participants of the workshops will be asked to provide input regarding potential growth areas during a  hands-on, mapping exercise during the workshops.   NIRPC is also providing information to the US Census Bureau to define geography boundaries. 

EcoNatives provided consulting services to the Dunes National Lakeshore during their recent vegetation mapping project. 


IDEM continues to fund certified ArcGIS training for NWI GIS Forum participants.  Becky will be conducting the following training session at the end of the month - ArcGIS 9.3 Intro II - Tools and Functionality.  Another session will be offered before the end of the year.  This training assumes a basic knowledge of the ArcGIS interface.  Prior to this training, a free, ESRI virtual campus is required for those not previously familiar with ArcGIS. Training will take place in the GIS lab at IU Northwest.  Contact Becky for more information about enrolling in training.

IGIC provides educational opportunities throughout the year.  Check their website regularly to see what is currently being offiered.

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

Lake Rim GIS Update

The Indiana Geological Survey has updated, Lake Rim GIS,  an interactive mapping website.  Many data layers for Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties have been updated and some local data has been added.    


Meeting notes will continue to be posted to the  NWI GIS Forum website as soon as possible after meetings (click on Minutes).  Please contact Cele Morris with any comments or input on the website.

IGIC Report

  • An Urban Orienteering event was held on August 15, in downtown Indianapolis for members.  18 teams participated in the first time event.  Plans are underway to make this an annual event.
  • 72 of 92 counties have agreed to participate in the IndianaMap Data Sharing Initiative.  The Indiana Department of Homeland security has begun to migrate some of the data layers acquired under this project to the IndianaMap.  The layers named "Address Points (IDHS)" and "Street Centerlines (IDHS)" can be found in the following folder: INFRASTRUCTURE > Roads. The layers named "Land Parcels (IDHS)" and "Government Boundaries (IDHS)" can be found in the following folder: DEMOGRAPHICS > Political & Other Boundaries. These layers are not currently available for download.  See the metadata for each layer to see which counties are represented.
  • The IGIC Refer a Friend membership drive is currently underway.  Members who refer a new member will be eligible for entry into a raffle for a $100 VISA gift card.   Benefits of membership include:
    • Professional networking opportunities
    • Access to members-only website content
    • Free or reduced cost IGIC seminars
    • Members-only rate for annual GIS Conference
    • Internet directory access and listing
    • Monthly Indiana GIS newsletter
    • Professional development activities
    • Access to online calendar of GIS events
    • Voting rights
    • Eligible for IGIC Board membership
    • Eligible for IGIC committee and workgroup participation
  • The Local Government GIS Coordinator Forum will be held on Friday, September 25, 2009, 9:00am - 3:00pm EST at the Farm Bureau Building in Indianapolis.  Be sure to register as soon as possible.  This is your chance to provide comments for the future of GIS in Indiana.
  • The 2010 Annual Indiana GIS Conference will be held at the Bloomington Conference Center on February 23 and 24, 2010. 

Next Meeting: Next meeting:  Thursday,  November 12, 2009, 9:00 am  - 11:00 am, at Indiana University Northwest

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