By Aaron Cheesman, Contributing writer

LOVELAND, Colo. -- Many city governments have implemented geographical information systems (GIS) to provide a mapped view of physical assets such as land parcels, pipelines, poles and substations. However, the great amount of documentation that pertains to those assets is often filed in varying combinations of printed files and electronic formats, making it problematic to quickly compile all information regarding a particular location.

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (NCWCD), established in 1937, provides water across 1.5 million acres of land including Boulder and several other counties. In the past, mountains of documents were hurriedly printed and manually filed, but often records management staff had different filing criteria from the employees who needed to locate the documents. Employee and resident record requests regarding a particular physical entity would often take days or weeks, and documents were sometimes not available at all.

Seeking to integrate the District's GIS information, NCWCD selected Toronto-based Hummingbird Ltd., to link all content to its relevant geographical entities. Through a simple Web interface, workers can click on a map location to access and manage all related documents.

In July 2002, NCWCD contracted with 5280 Solutions from Denver to install Hummingbird document management software into their existing Web infrastructure, and with Farragut Systems from Lafayette, CO., to connect it all with the agency's GIS. The implementation was completed in February, 2003. Now, employees can access geographical content in within seconds. Even community residents can make use of the documentation system at a kiosk at the NCWCD office with little or no staff assistance.

The scope of the system's benefits is limited only by the resourcefulness of the clients. Digitized audio and video files can be linked to locations. Hummingbird also offers a digital camera with a GPS attachment so that photographic documentation, automatically linked with a latitude and longitude, can be wirelessly transmitted or synchronized when the user returns to the office.