Municipalities throughout the Meadowlands District will have access to a new, state-of-the-art mapping tool called the Geographic Information System (GIS). This information tool can provide visually explicit information about a town or selected area. The information will help local municipalities with zoning, planning, and community safety.
Through this system, various municipal departments including law enforcement and firefighters will be able to combine detailed land information from images taken by satellite with Census 2000 data and local municipal contributions and turn these statistics into visual problem-solving tools.
"This new tool is all about smart government and smart planning," said Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and chairman of the NJMC. The NJMC has overseen development decisions in the Meadowlands region. "The cost of such a system is usually beyond the reach of many of the municipalities in the Meadowlands District," she said. "Under our partnership, this state-of-the-art tool for land use planning is now available to all."
Dr. Francisco Artigas, Deputy Director of the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI), presented MERI's award-winning GIS mapping technology. MERI is a joint program between the NJMC and Rutgers University. MERI's GIS program has won a 2003 achievement award from Environmental Systems Research Institute.
"About a year ago, we started the municipal assistance program for the 14 municipalities in the district," Artigas said during a presentation on Sept. 29.
On average, each municipality is slated to receive about $25,000 in services, hardware and software to help them access and contribute to the mapping system.
Secaucus and Carlstadt are already engaged in the project, and maps showing information from those municipalities were shown.
"We're working on North Bergen and Jersey City now," Artigas said. "We hope to have them on line shortly.
Commissioner Michael Gonnelli said this will be a way for municipalities to access a variety of information from tax maps to emergency service.
There will be information on government buildings, police stations, firehouses, schools, hospitals, the Census, property, flood control, fire hydrant locations, street addresses, high resolution aerial photographs, transportation nodes, building foot prints, elevation codes, hydrology and more. From the database, police, firefighters, EMS, public utilities, public works departments, safety officers, and others can search for property information, locate buildings, check on municipal manholes, determine the age of structures, track school demographics and performance and plan shelter and evacuation procedures. NJMC officials said this system would benefit about 494,000 people in Northern New Jersey and would be continuously updated.
NJMC Executive Director Bob Ceberio said this is a tool that can have many uses, from crime-fighting to battling blazes.
"If a fire department needs to know where the nearest fire hydrant is, this will provide that information," he said.
"If they need to know about the structure of a building, that will be available as well."