Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Final Report
City of Carlton – Utility Mapping Project
Submitted by: Lynn Habhegger – City Administrator
November 30, 2006

Project No. Contract No.

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.

INTRODUCTION The City of Carlton has severely lacked proper mapping and accurate documentation of City facilities. The lack of current maps or other digital information on infrastructure has limited City ability to effectively provide long range planning for system improvements as well as inhibited maintenance and location of structures. The purpose of this project was to accurately map the water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer systems using mobile GPS technology and then use the new map information in the web-GIS system designed for the City. The web GIS was built from a previously successful MLCP/NOAA grant used to develop the City’s base GIS layers and allows the City staff to quickly access information. WORK COMPLETED The GPS collection process began in the spring. Project prep consisted of acquisition and cataloguing of available engineering plans and street projects. Due to the age of the City’s infrastructure and lack of proper filing facilities there was not much available evidence to use. The mobile GPS system consisted of a Trimble GeoXT hand held GPS unit running Trimble’s TerraSync collection software. The database dictionary used to collect infrastructure features and attributes was designed by MSA Professional Services, Inc. of Duluth, MN. Field collected data would be post processed to clean out data that did not meet the accuracy specification of approximately 18 inches. Post processing also helps correct of atmospheric interference and multi-path signal error caused by buildings and ground cover such as trees. The collection process would involve field-work collection by MSA to GPS available system nodes based on previously marked locations or with the assistance of City staff. After initial collection of the system structure locations and data clean up the information was imported into ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.1 and into a geodatabase. The geodatabase consisted of datasets classes for sewer, water and storm water. Each dataset contained feature classes for structures and mains. Database attributes developed include a unique ID system for system content and attributes for sizes, collection notes and other data. After the initial mapping was complete the maps were created and then reviewed by existing City Public Works staff along with retired staff who had working knowledge of the system details. This step was necessary due to the lack of documentation in older areas of the town. The correction and quality control process included creation of redlines and revisiting of the GPS personnel to collect missing information that was in more remote sections of the town. This information was then used to update maps, which were reviewed one more time for small corrections. The next step the City’s ArcIMS-based GIS system hosted by MSA was then upgraded to include the ability to work with the various utility layers. Layers for point structures and

main systems were created. An individual Utility Maps menu was created for the web GIS to allow users the ability to quickly turn layers off or on. The web GIS has proven to be easily expandable and adaptable to City needs.

GOVERNMENT COORDINATION AND DECISION MAKING Educational activities included staff training on the use the web GIS and how to extract information. Additional training on GPS use to assist with system maintenance is planned. RESULTS Utility map books have been generated for City Public Works staff to use in vehicles. While admittedly a “low-tech” approach was chosen, this solution was thought to be the most practical due to the costs associated with implementing digital solutions. MSA developed a web based GIS system to help implement GIS use efficiently. This GIS is built on ESRI’s ArcIMS web GIS technology and is easily expandable. The viewer has separate controls to allow users to directly interact with the map. Classic functions include zooming and pan tools, as well as “quick identify” and select functions that will interact with database components of the active layer. Other functions include parcel buffering and mailing label generation tools as well as measurement and printing tools.

Database layer controls are displayed on the left frame of the application that allows users to turn off/on layers at given scales. Scale sensitivity is built into the application to prevent users from turning layers on that cannot be visualized at given zoom extents. The layers list will also toggle off/on various databases that for various features. This will allow the City the opportunity build and expand future GIS layers and databases.

As each layer is activated or highlighted, the system database is then selected. Once selected feature attributes are displayed as features on selected on the screen or queried

from the database. At the present time the database attributes are minimal for some layers due to the lack of information available. As time permits the City will begin development of additional information on the different layers.

CONCLUSIONS The development of these utility layers and associated databases will help the City with future maintenance and replacement schedules as needed. Additional value is that the City can quickly access map information either digitally or via GIS generated mapping and not rely on staff knowledge of systems. This is especially important to communities as the “baby-boomer” generation begins retiring and taking all their community knowledge with them. Tapping into that staff knowledge to build a more robust database system is very important and GIS begins this process. Future City projects include maintenance of systems and data using GPS technology internally along with other specialty tool development for the web GIS system.

APPENDICES To see the Carlton GIS system, go to http://gis.msa-ps.com and select Carlton tab.