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Indiana University Northwest

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Northwest Indiana GIS Forum
Meeting Notes
Tuesday, November 12, 2009 -  9:00 - 11:00 am
Meeting Location: Indiana University Northwest - Library Conference Center

Members in Attendance:  Lorraine Bank, Witchwater, Inc.; William Donovan, Lake County HIDTA; Mathew Hay, NIRPC; Kim Holmquist, School City Hammond; James Kaspar, INDOT; Danielle Kindig, Newton County Surveyor's Office; Becky McKinley, Hammond Sanitary District; Jim McShane, Grants, Inc.; Cele Morris, IUN/NWI Center for Data & Analysis;  Dan Niksch, City of Crown Point Engineering;  George Olmsted, IUN; Spike Peller, INDOT; Cecile Petro, Town of Highland; Tom Rogers, Seiler Instrument; Tim Sutherland, IUN; Joyce West, Sidwell; Greg White, Lake County Surveyor's Office; Michael Zabrecky

Local Implementation

Hammond, is in the process of bringing the sewer maintenance utility network into their GIS.  Corrections submitted by Hammond for the 2010 US Census, Local Update of Census Addresses program (LUCA) were submitted this summer and have been returned to the city for review.  Of the 12,000 changes submitted to the Census Bureau, approximately 550 have been challenged.  Water bill records will be checked to verify addresses.  Some field work may be undertaken to check addresses. Becky continues work with both the Hammond Mayor and Lake County Housing task forces as they keep track of foreclosures.  The project has been ongoing for over a year and trends are being analyzed.  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. 

NIRPC has been compiling a list and mapping all of the vacant lots in the three county region.  The availability of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for  high resolution elevation data and orthoimagery projects in U.S. Coastal Regions has been announced.  Porter County has voiced interest in partnering with NIRPC to obtain funding for an ortho project.  They continue to acquire information for their comprehensive plan including future land use data.  Maps created by the public during their Cluster Workshops have been digitized.  In addition to GIS projects, NIPRC is in the process of making upgrades to its website.  Access to more bandwidth for video streaming and compliance with ADA specifications are being investigated.   

Personnel with the Lake County High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) are in the process of recovering and reacquainting themselves with their crime mapping data.  Incident reports are being mapped.  Using their system, they plan to project future trends.

Spike Peller of INDOT - LaPorte District office is currently enrolled in an online GIS course through the University of Denver.   They are working to incorporate road construction projects with corresponding maintenance records.  GIS experts in their Indianapolis office have been a big help as they continue GIS education and integration of data to map projects. 

Newton County outsources its online mapping website to a contractor.  Updates are submitted by the Surveyor's Office. 

The Data Center at Indiana University Northwest has begun constructing basic GIS educational workshops as part of funding received from the Lake Michigan Coastal program.  Training is intended to serve persons working on projects in the Lake Michigan watershed without having to access expensive GIS software.  Online mapping services will be demonstrated.  Free GIS software options such as Accuglobe, Arc Explorer and Google Maps will also be explored.  A preproposal was submitted and approval was granted to submit a full proposal for a 2010 Lake Michigan Coastal Program grant to provide environmental education to regional youth through local public libraries.  The reference area of the library was recently remodeled and reopened as the "IUN Information Commons".  Efforts continue to administer  LSTA ( Library Services and Technology Act) grant funding, creating an Adaptive Technology Room outfitted with computer equipment for members of the underserved public, students, and persons with disabilities in a room adjacent to the Info Commons.  The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) will offer Introduction to GIS in the 2010, Spring semester.  Class will be held on Saturday mornings, 9:00-11:45, January 16th through May 8th.  The cost for Indiana residents, including tuition and all fees, is approximately $650.  If you would like to take this class and are not already an IUN student, your first step is to apply for admission as a transient student.  You can reach the Admissions office at 980-6991 or toll free (888) YOUR-IUN (968-7486).   For more information contact George Olmsted.   The Data Center will assist GEMINUS as begin work to assemble a 2010 Local Epidemiology Report for East Chicago.  In the past work has included geocoding drug related crimes and East Chicago community assets.

The Lake County Surveyor's Office continues work on an enterprise GIS system for the county.  Parcel boundaries were completed last year.  An address point layer is in the works with QC expected to begin in January.  The budget for the project now provides for implementation in other interested county departments.  Current departmental using GIS for projects include:   Auditor's Office; Assessor -  reassessment issues, Voter's Registration - political boundaries; Health Department - location and runoff from septic systems; Parks Department - land acquisition, shelter, trail, park locations; Highway Department - signage information, bridge inventory.  Server space has been set up for departments.  Greg White supports creating a county multi hazard mitigation plan.  With such a plan in place, federal funding may be available to address flooding issues in the county.  Several issues are still being addressed for implementation.  Future visions for Lake County GIS maintenance is to provide access to municipalities so that data can be updated locally and a zoning layer based on parcels.  An introduction to the Lake County Surveyor's online mapping service will be presented at the end of this meeting.

Representatives from Sidwell and Seiler Instruments have been involved in numerous projects in the region.

School City of Hammond now has personnel in a designated GIS position.  Projects involving school district boundary changes and demographics are ongoing.  Successful use of GIS at school board meetings is reported.  The SchoolSite extension of ArcGIS is being used.  Other personnel within the organization are using GIS to advise parents of school districts locations.

The City of Crown Point received delivery of the georeferenced, "Street View" product.  The project produced easy to use photography that provides a 360°  view at street level.  Six images were taken approximately every 10 feet.  A number of applications for the data are currently in use including:  street/street light maintenance; addressing; MS4 issues; tree inventory.  A graduate student has offered to do an analysis of road condition for Crown Point.  

The Town of Highland Redevelopment Commission is an end user of GIS tools created by the County Surveyor's Office.

Grant's Inc./Non-Profit Institute recognizes the power of including maps within grant applications and plan to promote the use of GIS in grant writing.


IDEM continues to fund certified ArcGIS training for NWI GIS Forum participants.  Becky will announce schedule a three day, ArcGIS 9.3 Intro II - Tools and Functionality class after the first of the year.  This training assumes a basic knowledge of the ArcGIS interface.  Prior to this training, a free, ESRI virtual campus course 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

  • The 3rd annual Government GIS Coordinator's meeting was held in Indianapolis on Sept. 25, 2009.  Northwest Indiana had 5 representatives in attendance.  All presentations and questions covered during the event are available on the IGIC website (click on link above).  The IGIC Conference committee is investigating the possibility of providing similar meetings at this year's conference. 
  • The IGIC Education Committee schedules lots of interesting workshops, seminars and webinars during the year.  Click on the above link for upcoming events.
  • IGIC sponsored a well received, networking dinner on Nov. 10, in Lafayette.
  • The GIS Response Corp continues formation.  Discussions include education need for volunteers to interact with EMA personnel during an event and the importance of communication with EMA to determine how we can help.  An SOP is being developed.  Recommended training is listed on the IGIC website.  They have been asked to give a technical workshop at the 2010 conference.
  • The Election Committee has closed nominations for elections for the 2010 Board of Directors.  Greg White of the Lake County Surveyor's Office is running for a seat in the County category and Dan Niksch, City of Crown Point was nominated in the municipal sector.
  • The 2010 IGIC conference will be held February 23-24 at the Bloomington Conference Center.  A call for abstracts has been issued for presentations during the conference. 
  • 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.
  • 74 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. Some of these layers are now currently available for download.  See the metadata for each layer to see which counties are represented.
  • Annual IGIC membership fees are due.  Be sure to renew your membership or become a new member. 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

Special Presentation by Greg White, Lake County, Indiana, Surveyor's Office:  Introducing the Lake County Online Mapping Website:  http://lakecountysurveyor.org/gis.html

Next Meeting:   Thursday, February 18, 2010, 9:00 am - 11:00 am, at the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Office in Portage, Indiana. 

View NIRPC Location in a larger map