New GIS System Provides Berlin With New Tool

BERLIN – Berlin can now count updated geographic
information among its planning and infrastructure tools, with the delivery of a
new geographic information system (GIS).

The Mayor and Council authorized the geographic
information project to map the town’s tax information, and sewer and water
systems, last April, asking Dr. Mike Scott of Salisbury University’s Eastern
Shore GIS Cooperative to undertake the project.

Scott presented the maps to the town council during the
Monday meeting. The co-op charged Berlin $8,000, he said, much less than the
$30,000 it would cost in the private sector.

“Geographic data is anything you can map,” Scott said
during his presentation. Municipalities are good candidates for GIS mapping, he
said, because of the large amounts of descriptive data they have about
everything from water billing records to nuisance complaints. The GIS process
links the data with the maps.

“By the time we’re done, we have the real world,” Scott
said.

For Berlin, Scott and his team at the GIS Cooperative used
a wide variety of material, including water and sewer maps, aerial photography
and Army Corps stormwater data to create an accurate digital picture of certain
aspects of the town, such as the ground, water and sewer infrastructure.

The team scanned 479 separate as built drawings,
generating a sewer system map including 635 manholes, 547 sewer segments and
1,430 lateral branches. The water system is now mapped down to 1,678 meters and
269 hydrants.

“We pulled it together in forms you can actually use,”
said Scott.

Town officials said the benefits of the maps would be
immeasurable.

“It’ll be used a number of times,” said Berlin
Administrative Director Linda Bambary. “It’s supposed to provide us quick
access to multiple layers of information, tax information, zoning information.”

The information could be used in the planning process to
determine what kind of sewer and water infrastructure is already in place near
a proposed development, for example, she said.

The maps will be updated when more accurate information is
discovered, such as the actual size of a water pipe, which will benefit future
repairs and improvements.

Scott said the GIS system could be used to
create new maps using criteria the town desires, from crime to abandoned
properties. He showed a tax parcel map color coded by assessed value. Each
property can be clicked on for detailed information. 

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