Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Geographic Information Systems:
In its simplest terms, a GIS combines a digital mapping element with the knowledge and power of a database. These two elements are often coined as "spatial" and "attribute" information and together make a "smart map." The mapping and database elements are only limited by one's imagination. GIS is used in many different facets and fields of everyday life. Here are a few examples.

  • Site analysis for a new store: What commercial properties / buildings are available in this community? Where is the commercial property that best fits my needs? Where are my competitors in relation to my possible locations? Where are my customers located in relation to both my new store and my competitors. What is the economic growth potential of the area?

  • Disaster planning / mitigation: How many buildings are inside the 100 year floodplain? How many of those buildings are classified as residential? What is the average age of individuals? Where are the closest shelters? Where can volunteers meet to help? Where can debris be moved to during cleanup procedures?

  • Crime mapping: Where have the most recent burglaries been? What time of day have they occurred? Where are the closest expressway entrance ramps? Are there any security cameras in the neighborhoods, and if so, where are they? What area is most susceptible to burglaries? What are the best locations to place police officers for a patrol / sting operation?

Four main components:
There are four main components to any GIS. These are

  • Computer hardware: Just 8-10 years ago you needed very high powered expensive computer workstations to use GIS software. Today, and in the case of the STCRPDB website, a person can use his/her own computer from home / work to access very powerful information.

  • GIS software: Most software used to create GIS data / layers is still very expensive for the average user. Although free GIS "viewing" software has been around for some time, the early options were very limited in their capabilities. In the last few years there has been a large push to have web based interactive mapping applications. All a user needs is an internet browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.) and an internet connection / provider.

  • GIS Data: The data is always the most important part of any system. Data may already exist, be purchased, or be collected with the use of other technologies such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS). It is important to recognize the scale of different datasets and the scope of what a person would like to use the different datasets for. Data is often in different scales / projections. The GIS layers should always have associated "Metadata" or information about the data (how created, who created, source scale, etc.). If you are looking for GIS data, the Geography Network is a good place to start.

  • Person / People: Although GIS has been around since the the early 1960s with basic concepts used even prior to that, it wasn't until the 1980s - 1990s when GIS became more wide spread. More powerful computers and the continuous evolution of technology catapulted the GIS field. Trained professionals that understand the concepts, maintenance techniques, and end user needs are as important today as ever. GIS is used in many different professions. Here are some examples.

STC maintains a Geographic Information System (GIS) based on data developed in-house and aquired from local resources.  STC utilizes ESRI GIS Software products.  GIS Services include map production, analysis, and provision of available data layers in the form of shapefiles,images, and online viewers.

STC's GIS supports program areas that include water quality, municipal planning, environmental planning, telecommunications, demographic analysis, economic development, and comprehensive planning and zoning updates for various municipalities within Steuben, Chemung, and Schuyler Counties.

Over the past several years, STC has built an extensive collection of data for our three-county region from various local, state, and federal agencies.  Some examples are recent aerial photography, roads, municipal boundaries, floodplains, streams, wetlands, and aquifers to name a few.  This information is easily made available via STC's Regional Internet Map Server

Our newest dataset, Telecommunications, is available by request at the STC office.  This information is extremely important as the region moves forward.  This data will assist in planning for current and future telecommunications needs.


STC produces GIS (Geographic Information Systems) maps for local governments and individuals. Examples of requested maps include: tax maps; 911 plans; highway data/ maintenance schedules; census information; environmental data; sewer/water maps; soils/land cover maps; contours/topography maps; and zoning maps. A summarized listing of GIS coverages maintained at STC can be found in the Data/Reports section.

If you are interested in learning more about GIS, the following sites will help you get started.
google search

Southern Tier Central Mapping Application for Local Governments.

This mapping tool provides GIS based Information through Google Earth. Google Earth must be downloaded and installed on local computer for this link to work.

Google Earth User Guide

Click on the link to save, not open the google file to your computer. Once file is downloaded right click on the file and extract file to a location of your choice. Open Google Earth. Go to file  open and   select the Southern Tier Central Region Local Government.kmz

Southern Tier Central Region Local Government Google Program

 STC Also Recommends:
Cornell U. Geospatial Information Repository
An active online repository in the Nat'l. Spatial Data Clearinghouse program. It provides geospatial data & metadata for NYS, with special emphasis on natural features relevant to agriculture, ecology, natural resources, & human-environment interactions.
New York State GIS Clearinghouse
The GIS Clearinghouse, operated by the NYS Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination, disseminates information about NY's Statewide GIS Coordination Program & provides access to the NYS GIS Metadata & Data Repository.
STC Regional Planning & Development Board  8 Denison Parkway East Ste 310 Corning, NY 14830
Phone 607.962.5092
Fax 607.962.3400
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