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Indiana University Northwest

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Meeting Notes

Northwest Indiana GIS Forum
Meeting Notes
Thursday, May 31, 2012 -  9:00 - 11:00 am
Meeting Location: Indiana University Northwest

Members in Attendance:   Rich Angelbeck, US EPA Region 5; Steve Bertrand, Porter County Admin.; Roy Chambers, Newton County EMA; Kevin Cunningham, US EPA Region 5; Jason Dravet, Town of St. John; Jennifer Gadzala, Chesterton MS4; Sarah Geinosky, NIRPC; Becky Geyer, US EPA Region 5; John Jarka, Chesterton FD; Leane Kmetz, City of Westfield; Roger Koelpin, IDHS; Eric Kurtz, Indiana Dist. 1 IMT; Steve Leatherman, WTH;  Becky McKinley, Hammond Sanitary District; Chuck Miller, Porter County Admin.; Ashlee Moore, IDHS; Cele Morris, IUN/NWI Center for Data & Analysis;  Dan Niksch, City of Crown Point Engineering; Nathan Pavlovic, Save the Dunes; Liz Pelloso, US EPA Region 5; Adrienne Porter, Seiler Instrument; Tom Ramker, Hammond Sanitary District; Danielle Sands, Newton County GIS; Edward  Rudd, Robinson Engr. Ltd.; Lucy Standfield, US EPA Region 5; Steve Strains, NIRPC; Tim Sutherland, IUN; Joyce West, Sidwell; Phil Worrall, IGIC

Local Implementation

Hammond currently has an interactive, citywide, web map in beta.  The web map has been created using free google map tools.  They are also looking at MS4 mapping requirements by using kml and google maps to create an interactive map for users to view outfalls within the city and also report illicit discharges.  Assistance is provided by the City Planner as parcel and zoning layers are being reconciled.

The Data Center at Indiana University Northwest presented to the Indiana Library Federation District 1 conference at Valparaiso University on May 1.  The report focused on what GIS is as well as various GIS resources available to librarians.  The Data Center was granted funds by the Lake County Substance Abuse Council to produce a directory of resources available related to substance abuse issues.  Some mapping may be involved in the project.  Work is complete on a project with the Northwestern Regional Planning Commission on impervious surface mapping.  ArcGIS for HAZUS training session is scheduled for June 11 through 13 at IU Northwest.  18 are registered for the training.

WTH provides GIS services to Jasper & Newton counties.  They are currently trying to integrate software used to accommodate the land information and the public safety data.

Newton County’s Beacon site is about a year old.  They are finalizing layers for future access.  Emergency Management pursues integration with surrounding counties.

IGIC is working on a number of projects supporting the state GIO including this year’s portion of the Indiana statewide ortho/LIDAR project.  The Eastern portion of the state was flown early this spring.  Next year Northwest Indiana will be included in the project.  Work is ongoing to tie up loose ends on 2011 data. 

IDHS is currently seeking input from their districts to determine what they need for response to emergencies.  They have been doing a lot of behind the scenes work on building credential based log-in, customized, FLEX viewers based on web EOC. 

US EPA Region 5 looks forward to updated Indiana orthophotography for their future projects.  Some of their personnel were deployed for an air monitoring exercise during the NATO summit in Chicago.   US EPA Region 5 has developed a database of 12 types of recyclers which may manage disaster debris. This interactive mapping tool provides information and locations of over 3,500 facilities throughout Region 5 (the states of IL/IN/MI/MN/OH/WI) capable of managing different materials which may be found in disaster debris. The KMZ file is online at For more information, contact Becky Geyer at or 312-353-8314.

St. John has been flushing fire hydrants as well capturing a GPS location for each.   A street sign inventory will be the next big project. MS4 audit is July 2nd and is a major priority at present. 

Porter County has recently been focusing on their property address point layer.  Work is underway to connect their parcel data to the tax system.  The county has just finished their sign inventory for the highway department.

Seiler Instrument is here to observe.

Crown Point is working on as-builts for areas within the city that have not received them.  They are updating all fire maps. 

Sarah Geinoski, as a very new employee of NIRPC, joins us for the first time.  She has spent her first two weeks preparing data for online access.

The Chesterton Fire Department is interested in the presentation by Eric Kurtz today.  They would like to integrate GIS into their emergency management plans/preplans.  Much work continues with MS4 mapping for outfalls for illicit discharges.  The town is looking for information related to GIS and emergency response/management, NIMS training for responders.  They are also working on signage inventory/reflectivity.  They are having difficulty finding the appropriate equipment/procedures to collect the information and integrate it into GIS for this mandatory project.

As part of IDHS District 5, City of Westville works with Marion, Hamilton, and Hancock counties and is interested in how District 1 will link GIS and emergency management.   They plan to take their information for risk assessment and merge it into one data set. 

Robinson Engineering mainly does work in Illinois, but has some clients in Indiana.  They are involved with projects focused on land management, asset management, data analysis and data conversion.

Sidwell actively works in Northwest Indiana on projects data conversion, develops websites, and provides photogrammetry services.  They will host booth at the ESRI conference in San Diego this July.

Save the Dunes is trying to refocus their efforts for conservation and restoration in and around the National Lakeshore.  They are mapping out what they own to make sure data is current.  They will work on a theory on how the layers can be used to prioritize land acquisition and conservation in these areas.


ArcGIS for HAZUS training session is scheduled for June 11 through 13 at IU Northwest.  18 are registered for the training.

Opportunities for future ArcGIS training will be forwarded through the listserv.

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

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


Congratulations to both Crown Point and Lake County GIS programs on their both won the awards in the following categories at the recent IGIC annual conference:

Small Community – City of Crown Point:  Recovering Tax Increment Financing Districts Revenues

County Government- Lake County: Enterprise GIS

Reminder:  Time for the counties to look closely at the buy up options for the 2013 Indiana State aerial photography program.  Need to continue the dialogue with elected officials to encourage them to fill the need for robust data.  Northwest Indiana will be included in next year’s program.

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

September 20th is the annual Government GIS Forum in Indianapolis.  This year, state and federal government personnel will also be invited to the event.   The search for an appropriate venue in Hamilton County is underway.  Mark your calendar for this event if it applies to you.

Special Presentation: 

Eric Kurtz

Chief, Public Health Emergency

Response & Preparedness Section

Porter County Health Department

Eric also serves as the Team Leader of the Northwest Indiana District 1 District Response Task Force's Incident Management Team (IMT).   District 1 covers Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties.  The team was recently deployed to the southern Indiana tornados in Clark and Washington Counties to support response and recovery operations.  He would like to share his experience as well as start a discussion on how we, the GIS community in northwest Indiana, can better prepare for a potential disaster up here.  He would like to discuss how to integrate GIS capabilities into their emergency response preparedness capabilities as far as collecting, assessing, and sharing data elements for major incidents or events such as floods, tornados as well as cataloging critical infrastructure, etc.  He would also like to assess GIS subject matter experts willing to participate as part of their team.

Notes from presentation:

Eric explained to us the hierarchy of response and support from locals and the state after such a disaster.  He emphasized that, after the tornados, it was essential for all responders to have accurate maps for two very important reasons:

1)     To document and share the constantly changing situational awareness that all responders need to do their jobs.

2)     To give all people involved a clear, common operating picture of the event.

Eric is not a ‘GIS guy’ but he understands the importance of this technology and how it helped with the response and recovery after this event.  He came back up north and immediately reached out to us to explore how we might formalize the relationship between the EMA and GIS communities.  He explained how IDHS has organized the state into districts, with Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper being assigned to District One.  Within each district there are different incident response teams, each having a special focus based on the member’s expertise.  For example there is a fire suppression team, law enforcement team, medical response team etc. etc.  Eric believes that there is a role for us, as GIS specialists, in this ‘team’ approach to disaster response.

We had a roomful of people and the response to this idea was overwhelmingly positive.  The NWI GIS Forum has decided to form a workgroup to further explore the idea and form the first ‘GIS Incident Response Team’ in the state.  This falls right into place with the goals of IGIC”s GISCorps and this will give us a chance to implement many of the ideas they have come up with.