About Pueblo County GIS
How does GIS serve the residents of Pueblo County?
GIS is the key to making our communities function more efficiently.
Whenever someone asks the question "What is GIS, anyway?" it's very difficult to answer in with a quick, comprehendible answer. My first inclination is to respond with "GIS is an acronym for Geographic Information Systems, which is the key to our future, and every aspect of your life is affected by it." That usually doesn't go over very well. Often, I'm tempted to say that the GIS profession entails working with maps and databases. However, this basic description doesn't come close to narrating the power and potential of GIS. All in all, GIS is a set of tools that provides the capability to dissect the complex environment into simple, representative layers that can be analyzed, manipulated and overlaid to help us make complex decisions.
Do you remember studying the human body in high school and college? Textbooks break down different functions of our body into common-function systems like the nervous system, the digestive system, the skeletal system, etc. This is the easiest way to understand the complexity of our inner workings. This same "dissection" method works well when trying to understand our environment, too. To make sense of the complex inner workings of our cities and natural places, GIS provides a similar thought process where we can separate elements into their own "systems." Instead of thinking about Union Avenue as a commercial district, GIS enables us to see it as buildings, a road, trees, shops, stoplights, utilities and so forth. Using GIS, we can make decisions about each of these systems individually. This can enable us to simulate, analyze and understand problems with unprecedented detail so they can be addressed most efficiently.
Not only can we model the existing landscape, we can also introduce "virtual" models as well. We can quantify the effects on the Arkansas River if modifications are done to the storm sewer system in the Union Avenue District. We can analyze the impacts to traffic, pedestrians and shop owners prior to planting more trees or modifying parking. We can perform what-if scenarios to help our police best respond to an emergency. We can model the behavior of flood waters from Fountain Creek and identify what can be done to minimize the effects on Union Avenue. And, we can introduce historical data to help understand how the area once functioned.
So, why does Pueblo County use your tax dollars to invest in a GIS program? GIS initially started in the early 1990s in Pueblo County to help the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) at the Pueblo Chemical Depot plan for any potential emergencies. CSEPP now relies on geographic data to ensure that our citizens are protected, well served and informed about the Pueblo Chemical Depot. Drawing from the experience gained from the CSEPP program, GIS use is rapidly growing, providing services to almost every county department. In fact, you may notice GIS applications being used in several departments during your next visit to Pueblo County offices.
Not only does GIS enable us to work more efficiently and save money, it also speeds up government, so we can be more responsive to your needs. As an example, prior to implementing the GIS program, it took weeks to notify residents in a neighborhood of potential changes to their surrounding area. Now, it takes a matter of minutes. Your county government is only beginning to realize the tremendous benefits GIS brings to each and every aspect of the services we provide. So, I encourage you to come visit us. We regularly work with many area businesses, schools, governmental entities and private citizens on highly complex projects, and look forward to helping you with your next project. And, when you drop in, be sure to pick up a copy of our latest street atlas.
Christopher G. Markuson
Director of Economic Development and Geographic Information Systems