Geographic Information Systems (GIS) combines multiple layers of information about any geographic location to give businesses, agencies, and individuals a better understanding of that location. The many layers used depend on what application GIS is being used for.
The Rowan County Planning Department has been using GIS to aid in the planning and zoning process involved in land use, census counts, traffic count estimates, road planning, and other information.
The departments GIS data is currently housed on a large array of hard drives centrally located in the department. The tax records that are also remotely located on an AS/400. In order to access the GIS data and find specific data to suit the particular project currently being worked on, the user must go to the server and search thru the database to find the data and create a usable table out of it. To access the tax data, the user must fill out a form and have Information Services make a table and send it to them via the interdepartmental mail system. This can at times take more than a week to be completed. If the user only needs one tax record, he/she would use a terminal to connect directly to the AS/400 but would not have a way of getting a copy of record unless printed out or a table made.
My project was to setup Windows 2000 Advanced Server, SQL Server 2000, to import the GIS data, and to eventually replicate all tax data from the AS/400. From there I designed and implemented an online application for searching GIS and tax data and would also allow the user to create tables based on that search on the SQL Server. With this table he/she would easily be able to network with and import the data into his/her current GIS project.
In order to setup my project, I installed Windows 2000 Advanced Server and SQL Server 2000 as well as setup SQL Server 2000. Then I imported the data to be used for development. After that I had to choose a way to access the data over a network and eventually the web quickly and easily.
During the data gathering stage I ran into both legal and storage problems. The first problem was the fact that the countys tax data is actual data on everyone in the county. I decided to entirely concentrate on GIS data for the project but eventually will implement the tax data when the server is in place at the department. The second obstacle was the amount of GIS data that the county had. The combined information totaled twenty times the size of the current hard drive I had at my disposal on the server. Therefore to solve this problem, I decided to use NC state census, road, river, and zip code data.
My first idea for a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to the data was to write it in java and make it a stand-alone application. However, the planning department asked that I use a web based GUI that would be easy for the secretaries and public to use. The department also requested that it only be searchable and not have active creation of tables for the time being. Therefore, I went to Active Server Pages (ASP) for the searching and Extensible Markup Language (XML) for data output to be used when the server goes public.
My senior project has been a success. The positive feedback that I have received from my user and other people that I have shown it to indicates that what I have designed is easy to use. Once it is implemented and brought online for Rowan County Planning it will greatly decrease the time needed for data searching and data gathering for the staff and eventually other departments and the public.
Advisor: Joseph Daugherty