agencies that develop them."

Fast, Up to Date

The Hub provides fast access to much more data than any one agency could store locally, said Brian Hosek, GIS specialist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. "The speed issue has been great, plus the database is always up to date." But he added, "the best part about it is probably that everyone in the agency can access that centralized database."

As the agencies add more data to the Hub, they're also working to improve its capabilities. Soon users will import data from the Hub into a wider range of applications, such as computer-aided design (CAD) systems, Nutsch said. They also plan to add geocoding, so a user can find a location on a map by entering its address, and they're exploring ways to make Hub data more accessible to people with disabilities.

In the future, the GIS Technical Committee will work more closely with counties and cities, so they can take better advantage of the Hub and perhaps contribute data to it as well, Nutsch said.

All these efforts will put North Dakota's geographic data in the hands of many more users. No longer a tool just for specialists, Nutsch said, "GIS within the state agencies might someday become as common as spreadsheet software."

Contributing Writer Merrill Douglas is a freelance writer based in upstate New York. She specializes in applications of information technology.

Merrill Douglas  |  Contributing Writer