What is a GIS?
GIS is short for Geographic Information System. A GIS is a computer based system that is used for storing, mapping, retrieval, and analysis of geographic data. The geographic data stored in any GIS can be of a variety of types, including information on land parcels, zoning information, water and sewer lines, and aerial imagery. Anything that can be represented on a typical map can be a part of a GIS. In addition to the actual spatial data, the individual elements of a GIS can be tied to numerous databases, allowing users access to a wide variety of information.
On its face, a GIS can seem similar to a normal paper map; however, GIS offers nearly endless possibilities for expansion. For example, a typical city map may show information on places that have graffiti, and may have some notations explaining details of some of the locations. In a GIS, the individual graffiti points can be tied to a database that describes the location of the graffiti, the date it was found, a description of what it says, and the cost it took to clean up the location. All of this data would be immediately available to any user of the GIS, and would be continuously updated. Also, a GIS allows multiple types of maps to be brought together in one location. Users can select what data they want to view simply by turning different types of data, called "layers," on and off.
The Buena Park GIS
The City of Buena Park has been operating a GIS continually since December of 2009. The current system has a number of data "layers," and each layer represents one type of data. Some of the layers on the Buena Park GIS include parcels, street centerlines, water and sewer lines, land use and zoning information, digital elevation information, and aerial imagery. The GIS is also tied into several other City databases, allowing users to access a wide variety of information.
GIS is in daily use at the public counters in City Hall, particularly in the Public Works and Planning departments. The use of GIS by these departments allows staff to assist residents with a variety of questions and problems, and allows staff to do this very quickly. Have you ever needed to know what permits have been taken out on your property? That information is in the GIS. Have you ever needed to know whether your local zoning would allow you to open a home business? That information is in the GIS.
Currently, the GIS is deployed on the City intranet, meaning that only computers inside a City facility can access the system. However, computers at the public counters at all City facilities can access the GIS, and are frequently used when City staff works with residents.
For further information, contact Norm Wray of the Buena Park Public Works Department via e-mail or by phone at (714) 562-3670. If you have specific questions regarding the zoning of a property, please contact Michael Ressler, Senior Planner, of the Buena Park Planning Division.
Work with Texas A&M University
The City of Buena Park has obtained additional GIS services provided through work with Dr. Daniel W. Goldberg at Texas A&M Geoservices Services.