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Geographic Information Systems Center struts high-tech stuff

November 13, 2000

The GIS Center, in its third year of operation, will showcase sophisticated software that can answer geographic questions ranging from “What's the best route through the city in case of an emergency?” to “Where do most of Austin Peay's students come from?” at its “GIS Day” event, scheduled for Nov. 15.

The center, housed in the Mark's building, is funded by the city of Clarksville and Montgomery County and serves more than 40 city and county entities, including the fire and police departments and emergency medical services.

Sophisticated software provides officials fast access to geographical and statistical data- and makes obvious any correlations between them. The result: more cost-efficient, timely decisions and, sometimes, huge monetary savings.

Here's how GIS works. Users enter into GIS computers a simple direction, like “Show me the service area for this fire station,” or a question, like “What's the best route through the city in case of an emergency?”
The GIS visually associates objects such as streets, buildings, rivers and land parcels with data, like street names, addresses, census data, etc. That capability --blending geographic information with data--allows users to examine the potential impact of a proposed action.

An example: Deciding to build a road may seem like a straightforward decision. But when a GIS reveals the road would cross a natural wetlands area, the ramifications are immediately clear. And the savings, monetary and otherwise, can be substantial.

GIS Day in Clarksville begins at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15 with a reception in the concert theatre of the music/mass communication building. At 9 a.m., Dr. Sherry Hoppe, Clarksville Mayor Johnny Piper and Montgomery County Executive Doug Weiland will deliver brief remarks and proclaim Nov. 15 as “GIS Day in Clarksville.”

From 9:30 to noon, attendees can see presentations on what the center offers.

From 1 to 4:30 p.m., the focus shifts to the Montgomery County Public Library, with public displays, brief lectures and interactive demonstrations.

For more information about GIS Day or the GIS Center, call 7500.