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New map streamlines data

Baum said he hopes to bring Bethlehem up to speed to do the same.

Information such as roads and maintenance; water and sewer lines; zoning districts; topography; electrical systems; home assessments; land uses; and other types of infrastructure information are all being integrated into one database system accessible by all departments.

"In theory you could throw everything on one map, but, of course, you wouldn't be able to see anything," Cunningham said.

In addition to scanning maps and documents, global positioning system units, or GPS, is being used to import detailed mapping and images for things like outfall mapping, which are maps of water and sewer and storm water output from culvert pipes throughout town.

Board member Sam Messina asked how the information would get from the GIS specialists to the town workers in the field who need it.

"The town has invested a lot in this. Our problem was getting the information from the GIS professionals to other professionals," Messina said.

Outreach and training are the focus for the solution, Baum responded.

"I'd like to do some outreach and training to different departments and also solicit their suggestions," Baum said. "This application is more of a view and query. You need something to extract the info so [department heads] can make a better informed decision."

Currently, the way the system works is that a specific range of data is requested and then the GIS compiles all the pertinent information and creates a three-dimensional readout of what was requested. It can also combine requests such as road deterioration and the zoning map or storm water discharge and population density.

"It's like maps on a computer," Baum said. "It's easier access to higher quality information."

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