GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data. In simple terms, GIS can be thought of as a high tech map.
GIS, was first informally established at the City of Mason City with the acquisition of black and white one-half foot pixel digital orthophotography in 2002. Planimetric data such as road edges, bridges, building footprints, and sidewalks were also a part of this project.
GIS was more formally organized as a part of City operations with the hiring of a GIS analyst in 2005. Shortly thereafter, the City of Mason City entered into a 28E data sharing agreement with Cerro Gordo County. This agreement was and continues to be an important event for the development of GIS for Mason City. With the implementation of this data sharing agreement in 2006, the City of Mason City received direct access to the County Cadastral (Parcel) data. Also a part of this agreement, the City of Mason City acquired color one-half foot pixel resolution imagery for the City of Mason City. Aerial imagery and parcel GIS data provide a solid base which additional GIS data can be built upon.
In 2008, the City purchased survey grade GPS equipment, with the purpose of improving the location of city-managed utilities in the GIS system. Since that time, the city staff has spent time collecting GPS data regarding the location of underground utilities and subsequently improving the GIS model of sanitary, storm, and water distribution systems.
In 2009, the City of Mason City and Cerro Gordo County extended the 28E data sharing agreement for three more years and jointly agreed to purchase and pay for oblique imagery from the Pictometry Corporation. This imagery project will not only supply the top down view imagery typically associated with GIS projects, but will also make oblique images available. The oblique imagery will supply literally thousands of side view images in Cerro Gordo County and Mason City. Where GIS systems were initially limited to “roof” views, now the all sides of buildings will be possible.
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