Thursday, October 17, 2013

Skidmore's GIS Project Is Coming to Washington County

Sandy McReynolds, Gill Room Historian & I went to a very interesting meeting on  Tuesday. Skidmore Professor Robert Jones & Greenfield Town Historian Ron Feulner gave a presentation on a project they have been working on in Saratoga County. It is a Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping project.

From Skidmore's website:
GIS is a combination of information, techniques, software, and creativity to present, analyze, manipulate, and interact with data that is geographically referenced. The data can be shown in relation to topics such as politics, environmental studies, geography, geology, biology, economics, business, and history.
Basically, a bunch of maps are scanned into the program and a series of layers are added. (In Washington County's case the maps include 1829, 1853, 1866, c. 1900, c. 1950, c. 1970, 2013.) Those layers can be roads, to see how they have changed, and moved over time. The layers can be the location of cemeteries, churches, or schools. Parcel maps can be included to show where people lived & who owned the adjoining property.

The best part about this project is that it is FREE. A student in Professor Jones' class will be assigned a town within Washington County, & using the information on the maps, will create the layers. Then I can have a copy for free. The Greenwich Free Library can have a copy for free.

 The historians, & other interested parties, were invited to the meeting to see the uses of the mapping project, which were illustrated by Mr. Feulner. Plus, we can provide input regarding additional layers that can be included or added at a later time. I'm thinking a layer of historic markers & monuments throughout the Town of Greenwich would be great. Additional information can be linked to the maps, like images, videos, & blog posts.

Washington County has a similar set of interactive maps on their website, including polling districts, types of soil throughout the county, watershed areas, et al. Check that site out here.

The ArcReader program that we will use to utilize these maps is available for free here.

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