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The original item was published from 11/12/2020 8:05:34 AM to 11/19/2020 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: November 4, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Rowan County Celebrates GIS Day

Rowan County Celebrates GIS Day 

Rowan County Recognizes How Geographic Information System Technology Makes an Impact

November 9, 2020 — Rowan County will celebrate GIS Day on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. While global circumstances require GIS Day to be largely virtual this year, Rowan County will celebrate innovative applications of geographic information system (GIS) technology in analysis, visualization, gaining insights into geospatial data, and thought leadership in Rowan County government.

Over 20 years ago, Jack Dangermond, the founder and president of Esri GIS mapping software, envisioned people collaborating and sharing how GIS affects everyone. This led to the establishment of GIS Day, which was first observed in 1999. The explosion of geospatial technology since then has expanded that idea into a global event that shows how geography and the real-world applications of GIS are making a difference in business, government and society. It's a chance for organizations to share their accomplishments and inspire others to discover and use GIS. 

Rowan County Information Technology's GIS division is responsible for updating maps and 911 addresses for public and government use. GIS provides integration of maps and web applications with County departments, governmental jurisdictions and agencies, and the public.  Rowan County has recently moved to Next Generation 911 (NG911), which uses GIS and GIS data to locate which public safety entity responds to the location (based off of 911 need , Fire, EMS, Law) of the 911 caller. The GPS location of the caller’s device used to contact 911 is plotted on a map that is updated using local GIS data. Before Rowan County could be compliant with NG911 standards, GIS Data had to have an accuracy rate of at least 98%.  Rowan County’s GIS data was tested and scored at 99.88% accuracy overall.  Rowan County was the 53rd County in NC to become NG911 compliant, and one of the first i3 architecture compliant within the state. 

Rowan County GIS Manager Columbus Hawks and his team are always pushing the envelope. “I agree with Dangermond’s belief that the ‘application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who use it,” Hawks said.  “Our GIS team is constantly seeking new ways to present and make data accessible to all,” he continued.

Rowan County GIS provides mapping tools for the public to access information on local properties, townships, zoning, schools, permits, services, and more.  Most recently, GIS rolled out a brand new Rowan County GIS Mapping Tool which allows users to perform all the same functions as within the legacy system (ConnectGIS), but with an updated, user-friendly interface.  Integrated Pictometry tools and imagery allow users to view all angles of properties and even measure heights, area, distance, and bearings in feet and miles.  New imagery will be added next year and users will be able to use a drop-down to select new or older images.

"I am proud of our team and the way they have not only been able to maintain and improve existing services, but also provide daily updates to our COVID-19 data hub," said Assistant County Manager and Chief Information Officer Randy Cress.  "Data is the basis for all information, and we strive to provide transparent information to all citizens," he continued.

This November, Rowan County will join hundreds of organizations worldwide in celebrating the impactful work of GIS professionals.  "GIS Day is a wonderful opportunity for professionals from around the world to get together to share the amazing things they are doing," said Dangermond. "This year, more than ever before, the work of GIS has helped the world better understand and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Organizations across the globe are taking part in grassroots events that help celebrate geospatial science and how it impacts the real world for good. Our users should be proud of the work they do, which GIS Day is meant to showcase." 

For more information on how Rowan County is innovating through the application of GIS, view the Rowan County GIS Day Story Map or visit


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