Local governments expand presence on the Net

Sunday, February 22, 2009
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
City of Cape Girardeau GIS coordinator Annie Anand is surrounded Feb. 4 by many of the digital images she makes. She relies on a Trimble GPS system to help her digitally map the city.

In 2008, city and county governments took steps to increase or establish their online presence.

Annie Anand helped the city of Cape Girardeau's online pages and those who go searching for specialized maps at www.cityofcapegirardeau.org/Maps.aspx. Visitors can find layouts for streets, water and sewer systems, buildings and population -- layer upon layer of information helpful to businesses, subdivision developers or a couple about to build their first home.

Anand, a Southeast Missouri State University graduate, specializes in the combination of geography and technology required to manage Geographic Information System (GIS) projects. She analyzes information drawn from aerial photos, topographic data and land records, all of which can be found online, and trains her co-workers in ways to use the information, whether for a land-use permit or revamping a sewer line.

She led a Nov. 19 GIS Day for all city departments.

"[We] assisted current GIS users with new and efficient tools and tricks that could make their work go simpler and faster," she said. Those new to the idea of electronic maps received basic training on ways the mapping software could help their work.

Mayor Jay Knudtson said that for most people, having a BlackBerry for portable e-mail may be useful, but "GIS is really an example of technology that allows us, hopefully, to serve our citizens better."

The city's new GIS, which lets people zoom in on a neighborhood and produce ownership details and other documentation, is "a fantastic tool," he said, "an example of what of technology is being used to be more efficient and responsive to the citizenry."

Anand said that though much of the technology is new, 2009 marks 20 years since the city laid the foundation for GIS, first setting aside funding, then making a commitment to add electronic files and connections.

Perry County unveiled its new website in 2008, www.perrycountymo.us, which features weather reports, an online tax payment option and the National Association of Counties' page on environmental issues, among other resources.

Surplus property

Cape Girardeau County's information technology director, Eric McGowen, found a way to help the county's new online home -- www.capecounty.us -- pay its own way. He included an online auction site for surplus county property. The site features a page for residents to check whether the county has unclaimed property with their names on it, or simply pay personal property and real estate taxes.

While broadcasters were touting the results of what they called a historic presidential election, McGowen added to county history by posting real-time election results online.

Just before 2008 closed out, Scott City added its name to the list of Bootheel towns with a home on the World Wide Web, at www.scottcitymo.org. Visitors can download business license applications and learn the rules for using the city's parks and pools.



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