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28 Years of Collaborative GIS in Indianapolis

The IMAGIS Program

IMAGIS is the multi-participant, public-private geographic information system (GIS) consortium for Indianapolis & Marion County, Indiana. Our partners include:

The City of Indianapolis
(Office of the Mayor, Public Works, Metropolitan Development, Public Safety, IndyParks, Mayor's Action Center, Code Enforcement, Sustainability, Finance & Management)

Marion County Offices
(Surveyor, ISA/IndyGIS, Auditor, Treasurer, Assessor, Recorder, Voter's Registration)

Citizen's Energy
Indianapolis Power & Light Company
Indianapolis Department of Waterworks
Marion County Health & Hospital Corporation
IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis)
Other public and private organizations

The consortium developed a multipurpose, digital basemap containing many layers of information, including:

Planimetrics – buildings, roads, lakes, rivers & streams, railroads, parking areas.

Ground Control and Topography – section corner coordinates, 2-foot contours, spot elevations, digital elevation models.

Cadastre – parcels, lots, platted subdivisions, jurisdiction boundaries.
Utility facilities – sewer, stormwater, water, gas, electric, cable.
Aerial Photography – digital orthophotography, oblique aerial photography.

The IMAGIS Vision

The IMAGIS consortium will create, maintain and share an accurate, up-to-date geographic information system to serve the public good and provide benefits to member organizations.

IMAGIS will provide a single source of property, planimetric and topographic maps, and aerial photography for the GIS needs in Marion County.

IMAGIS will facilitate and coordinate infrastructure management and GIS applications development throughout the County.

IMAGIS will develop GIS data standards, policies, and procedures for its members, and will provide leadership in setting data standards in the community.

IMAGIS will deliver high quality, timely geographic information and analysis addressing a broad range of public and private issues.

IMAGIS will facilitate the widest practical information exchange, and to help offset the costs of maintaining the maps, will market GIS products and services to the public.

Data Sharing

We work to build data-sharing relationships, and as of May 2008, we exchange GIS data with ALL of the counties neighboring Indianapolis. This took over 5 years of work. We also share data with Lawrence, Speedway and Beech Grove in Marion County, and other cities & towns in central Indiana.

IMAGIS agreed in August 2008 to partner with the Indiana Geographic Information Office and Indiana Geographic Information Council to include selected GIS in the IndianaMap, a seamless, statewide GIS which benefits citizens, businesses and government throughout the State.

What We Are Doing Now (see the News page, too.)

IMAGIS provides new digital orthophotography every year and updates planimetrics (buildings, pavement, hydrography, parking).

2010 - new Pictometry oblique and nadir aerial photos for Marion and Johnson counties; new planimetric updates; new Digital Elevation Models for Marion, Morgan, Johnson & Shelby counties.

2009 - new orthophotgraphy for Marion Co.; new planimetrics; new LiDAR for Marion, Morgan, Johnson and Shelby counties; new Digital Elevation Model for Hancock Co.

2008 - new Pictometry oblique and nadir aerial photos for Marion, Hendricks and Johnson counties; new planimetrics.

2007 - IndyGIS flew Marion Co. and IMAGIS partnered with the IndyMPO and USGS to fly orthos in Boone, Hancock, Shelby, Morgan and Johnson counties.

2006 - new mosaics from the Pictometry orthogonal nadir (straight down) photos, and township mosaics for 8 counties from the 2007 orthos. We updated planimetrics from the 2006 mosaics.

2005 - IMAGIS staff provided technical project management for the State of Indiana's statewide orthophoto program.

2004 - new Pictometry oblique aerial photos and orthophotos for Marion Co.

2003 - IMAGIS contracted for a LIDAR mission to build a new DEM and new 2-foot contours.

2002 - we had $298,000 worth of vendor contracts for aerial photos and planimetrics.

Additional projects continue: for new map layers, scanning, and improving data quality. Participants have over 600 desktop GIS users, and Internet statistics show that the IndyGIS on-line map gets over 5800 hits per day.

How We Did It

In the mid 1980's, Indianapolis needed new maps to help with drainage, trash pick up and a host of other critical government functions. City-County Councilor Beulah Coughenour visited the GIS at the City of Burnaby, BC, and was immediately convinced of the benefits of computerized mapping. She persuaded the Director of Public Works and then Mayor Bill Hudnut of the soundness of this approach. A meeting of more than 100 interested parties was convened, from which 28 organizations expressed an interest in sharing the cost of building the GIS. The City hired Utility Graphics Consultants to study the GIS benefits in each of these organizations. UGC's report showed that the 28 agencies were spending nearly $9 million per year in map-related activities, and 10 departments and agencies had the budget and benefit to continue.

Within a short time, these groups decided to form the IMAGIS consortium. The first IMAGIS participants' contract was signed in 1986. In 1987, The City-County Council established the IMAGIS Board (of the highest executive of each organization) as the directorate of the consortium. A Technical Committee makes recommendations to the Board. Both meet monthly to this day. Map conversion started in 1987 by Mid States Engineering and was completed in 1989.

The cost for hardware, software, conversion and staff was about $7.2 million for the first 4 years. Ongoing costs have averaged about $400,000 for day-to-day operations, data integrity, HW/SW maintenance, data updates and coordination between participants.

A study in 1993 showed a 2-year benefit of about $24 million in cash return or cost avoidance, and an additional $1 million in business benefits.

Of course there is much more to the story ..... and we would be happy to share it with you. We have learned a lot and made more than a few mistakes. The GIS world has changed completely since we started, but after 20+ years, we all still communicate and cooperate. We are proud to be involved with one of the best multi-participant GIS programs in the world.