iMapGJ hits iTunes store
Thanks to a city worker, entrepreneurs with iPads and imagination can now download for free an iTunes application that puts megabytes of valuable information about Grand Junction at their fingertips.
Jackson Trappett, an information analyst with the heart of a mapmaker, devised the application, which was quickly snapped up by the iTunes App Store — no small accomplishment for a private sector inventor, much less a government technocrat.
App creators must navigate a number of strict requirements before iTunes will allow an app to be marketed through its store, Trappett said.
“It’s quite the little process,” he said.
Trappett’s map application was able to avoid delays normally caused by iTunes compliance requirements. It passed scrutiny without a hitch after only a four-day review by iTunes, he said.
The application adds value for hundreds of Grand Junction taxpayers who every day access the city’s digital maps to market, develop, or explore 65 square miles of real estate for their clients.
The city began work on the geographic information system project in 1991. The system consists of five custom maps with 382 unique layers. Currently, GIS maps hosted on the city’s website experience as many as 800 visits a day, second only to the city’s job postings, GIS analyst Steve Smith said.
“I use it almost on a daily basis, if not two or three times a day,” commercial Realtor Brian Bray said.
“It’s tons of information,” Bray said. “I mean zoning is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s available in that.”
Taxi companies use the GIS maps every day to locate the addresses of fares, Smith said.
Analysts in the GIS department maintain and update the nearly 400 sets of data.
Users can select from a number of data bases — zoning, public safety, transportation, utilities and more — then choose from a menu of discrete items that can be layered onto the digital map, from water lines to trail systems to crime areas.
Multiple map layers have basic database information attached to them and can be viewed by themselves or in conjunction with other layers.
A drawing tool allows users to interact with the map to determine whether a structure of certain dimensions will actually fit within a parcel, Bray said.
The GIS allows taxpayers to view, understand, question, interpret and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, reports and charts, Smith said.
“Realtors love it,” he said. “It shows them every property sale within a certain distance ... It’s all linked to the (Mesa County Assessor’s) property information.”
“There’s a lot of cities that have GIS out to the public,” he said. “There’s not a lot of cities that have 400 layers out.”
Now, data consumers can conveniently use their iPads to access the GIS maps instead of logging in from their desktop computers, Trappett said.
A visit to the iTunes App Store, however, showed older versions of the iPad cannot make use of the application.
The next step will be to create an application that works for the iPhone, Trappett said.
Trappett’s work was performed as a public service for people who rely on the massive geographic database.
GIS has evolved from a long tradition of map making. In many respects, a modern geographic information system dramatically increases the amount of information that can be contained and manipulated in a map.
The GIS team also maintains the paper city map and provides additional paper map services to city departments, like the map books that police, fire, and utilities workers use in the field.
“A GIS helps us answer questions and solve problems by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared. The uses of GIS are limited primarily by our own imagination,” according to the GIS website.
To use the GIS website, go to http://www.gjcity.org/GIS.aspx