GIS Project Provides Tools For Economic Development Planning in Arkansas

 January 25, 2018

Cities across the world have started using geographic information systems (GIS) to attract new business by giving targeted prospects a tool to visualize economic planning. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently announced the completion of a yearlong, $1.2 million virtual mapping venture, the Arkansas GIS Project. The program offers a digital map detailing each of the state’s 75 counties with important information about roads, new developments and other infrastructure projects through aerial images.

To obtain the geographic information needed for the map, the state had five aircrafts with sophisticated digital sensors fly north-south missions across state at 19,000 feet. There were 19 flying days where the skies were clear, and the aircraft captured necessary imagery. The efforts resulted in more than 16,000 frames and 125 terabytes of data.

Access the new maps on the Arkansas Geographic Information Systems website by clicking on “Maps,” then “Map Viewer.” To the right of the map will be a list of the layers available, such as “Municipal Boundaries,” “Public School Districts,” and “2017 Aerial Imagery.” Zooming in and out changes the availability of some layers, and a search bar enables users to find specific addresses.

County officials now have the most up-to-date aerial maps of Arkansas, which will better prepare counties for future infrastructure and economic development projects. These maps will also provide for faster response times from local law enforcement and emergency personnel. This data can be used internally to benefit other state agencies, such as the transportation department, to manage and monitor the state’s services and infrastructure. It can also be used externally to aid economic developers in the site selection process and help bring in new businesses to the area.

Making the decision to relocate a business or start a business in a community, especially communities in areas companies are unfamiliar with, requires a great deal of information to consider. With this new technology, communities in Arkansas are now able to offer interactive GIS that enables businesses to virtually tour the area. In addition to showing roads and buildings, the images are the foundation for maps that pinpoint the location of utilities and administrative boundaries such as school districts or city boundaries. Planners, economic developers and urban designers depend on the smart maps and spatial analytics in Esri's ArcGIS software to find the best ways to deliver a high quality of life and sustainable growth for communities.