focal point for many technology initiatives across state government. Through NJMapp, spatial data can be collected at the local level efficiently and without redundancy, and then shared over the Web with all state agencies. Instead of constantly reinventing the GIS wheel for each new requirement, data will be available for all to use. "Equally important, we will be operating on a consistent set of data," Ebeid pointed out. "That results in cost-efficient sharing as we dispense data across all 17 cabinet level agencies."

Cost effectiveness was a key element of this program. The hope is that NJMapp will minimize redundancy and lead to leveraging of costs in ways that achieve desired outcomes. "Standardization of spatial data means that we can all be working off a single version of the truth," Garie observed. "It is our hope and intention that this partnership with the counties will allow everyone to abide by a single set of standards. We are certainly striving toward consistency. In addition, the seed funds provided from the state are greatly leveraged because the counties and local governments will go out and acquire more data."

A Vision for the Future

The initial goal was to bring four counties on board in the first year. That goal has been achieved and the participating counties have received equipment and training. The timetable calls for rolling out the total program over a three-year period and that appears to be realistic. The remaining 17 counties seem to be enthusiastic and the next phase, which will bring another five or six counties online, is already under way. The state/county partnership is expanding as hoped.

"What has happened with GIS cooperation at the county level serves as a good model for other partnership, shared arrangements," Garie said.

CTO Ebeid concurred. "By setting up an investment fund where we can disperse shares to counties we continue to facilitate the process of buying into our vision," Ebeid said. "We believe what we have put in place serves as a model for future technology initiatives, such as launching a state portal, for example, or a state infrastructure for disaster recovery plans. We are learning a lot from this process."

Looking down the road three to five years, Ebeid and Garie agree they would like to see truly dynamic databases connected across local and state government and operating with daily updates. The plan is for NJMapp to be at the frontlines for business initiatives, emergency responses and natural or man-made disasters, providing accurate and timely information to citizens in real time and helping to protect their quality of life.

A major part of this effort involves finding ways to get organizations to work together across boundaries. "We don't have technical hurdles," Garie noted, "but we need to find common ground between the state and local agencies -- ways in which state and local governments can see that their best interests are being served and rally around the mechanisms that promote cooperation. We are working hard to have everyone understand that most government is 'place-based' and that GIS can benefit everyone through cooperation and collaboration."