New Jersey Chief Technology Officer Charles S. Dawson announced the addition of comprehensive training and technical assistance to the state's GIS program for nonprofit organizations and environmental commissions. The New Jersey Office of Information Technology, through its Office of GIS, coordinates the enhanced program, which was renamed the Initiative for Community Access to Technology (ICAT).

"The state has long recognized that New Jersey's nonprofits and environmental commissions compile a wealth of geospatial data while fulfilling their respective missions," said Dawson. "This information is invaluable to decision makers throughout the state, and we have created ICAT to continue supporting these important and worthwhile resources."

ICAT builds on the state's former NGO (non-governmental organization) program that was initiated in 1996 in partnership with the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), a developer of GIS software.

The goal of the program was to help New Jersey's NGOs and environmental commissions build and develop their GIS capacity through the use of ESRI software. Approximately 170 organizations joined the NGO Program and along the way created a network that evolved into one of the first

nonprofit GIS users groups in the nation.

While the purpose remains the same as it was for the NGO Program, ICAT has been expanded to provide comprehensive training and technical assistance. Eligible organizations are supplied with ESRI software, training, and literature as well as instructor-led OGIS metadata training and ongoing state support through a two-year assessment process, a requirement designed to help ensure the continuity of participants' GIS operations.

ICAT is component of the NJ Mapping Assistance Partnership Program (NJMapp) that provides local governments with the hardware, software and training needed to create data nodes on the NJ Geographic Information Network (NJGIN) where New Jersey's geospatial data are being catalogued.

County NJMapp partners are encouraged to work with nonprofit organizations and environmental commissions within their jurisdictions to host their data and catalog them on NJGIN.