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September 2020

Table of Contents:

  1. Reorganization of MassGIS’s Municipal Resources Webpage
  2. MassGIS Helps with Covid-19 Mapping
  3. Orthophoto Story Map
  4. MassGIS 911 Team Receives National Award
  5. Database Updates
  6. Events
Reorganization of MassGIS’s Municipal Resources Webpage
In Massachusetts, the level of GIS resources at the municipal level varies greatly. Many cities and towns like Cambridge and Newton have content rich websites and dedicated GIS staff, while many more have little to no GIS capabilities. To better assist municipalities, MassGIS has recently completed a reorganization of its GIS Resources for Municipalities that is more task based. For example, there are instructions for assessors and addressing authorities on best practices and review of specific responsibilities for providing MassGIS with parcel mapping and address updates . There are also links for downloading data specifically useful to municipalities such as complete standardized address files.
Also, for the municipalities that have no GIS, there is a link to learn about our free MuniMapper program, which has map content and basic GIS capabilities useful for a city or town. There are MuniMappers for over 85 communities. A MuniMapper can also provide access to GIS data provided by the municipality.  For example, Lee and Great Barrington use this tool and those towns have provided local zoning and water infrastructure layers that we added. If any municipal staff have questions, we can be reached at   
muni GIS webpage
MassGIS Helps with Covid-19 Mapping
Recently, the Department of Public Health (DPH) began to color code communities based on 2 week positive case counts of Covid-19. Cities and towns range from light grey representing fewer than 5 cases over two weeks to green, yellow and red, with red being the communities with the highest or increasing case rates. Initially, this map was published as a PDF. Subsequently, MassGIS was asked to create an interactive version to help make the data more user friendly. On Wednesdays, MassGIS completes a weekly update after the DPH releases its report.
14 day covid map
Orthophoto Story Map
Since the black and white orthophoto project in the 1990’s, MassGIS has worked with funding partners in an ad hoc fashion to periodically acquire updated orthophotos. Between 2015 and 2018, funding limitations led to trying licensed high-resolution imagery.  Licensed imagery met many, but not all needs; it also could not be shared with the public. This was problematic, especially for small businesses that relied on timely and publicly available imagery to do their work. Additionally, promised refresh rates for the licensed imagery were not met, which was especially problematic for public safety dispatchers. More recently, we have again had sufficient funds to purchase imagery and this has better supported constituent needs.
We recently completed an ArcGIS Online Story Map that details the history of orthophotos in Massachusetts. Most of the story is told by highlighting locations that were undergoing major change during the time when the imagery was being acquired; however, for any given year of acquisition, the entire state for that vintage is also available for exploration. The final chapter of the story has all the ortho vintages that can be reordered or checked on and off to review specific areas and their change over time.
orthos through time story map
MassGIS 911 Team Receives National Award

At their recent (virtual) annual conference, the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) awarded the MassGIS’ 911 Team their Geospatial Excellence Award. The team was recognized for their work in developing the map and address information used in the operation of the statewide Next Generation 911 System. MassGIS Director, Neil MacGaffey, commented: I am really delighted that the MassGIS NextGen 911 Team is the recipient of NSGIC’s Geospatial Excellence Award. Their work over the past 7 + years truly characterizes the essence of what this award is intended to recognize. This teams work:

  1. Was a key part of the successful deployment of statewide Next Gen 911 in Massachusetts over 2 ½ years ago,
  2. Created a sustainable partnership with our client, the State 911 Department as well as with Massachusetts’ hundreds of cities and towns,
  3. Produced spatial data broadly benefiting many stakeholders, and
  4. Informed work on the NENA CLDXF standard, thus benefiting work on Next Gen 911 systems across the country. 

The team is lead by Peter Grace and includes Dan Marrier, Jack McGrath, Evan Aird, Jonah Bass, Steve Krueger, Peter Martell, and Mike Mulqueen.

Data Updates
MassGIS continues to incorporate updates into its standardized parcels database.
Over the past 2 months, MassGIS has added parcel mapping updates from 31 municipalities.
See the link above for full metadata and links to the free data download.
View and query parcels statewide in the Massachusetts Interactive Property Map.
This online map now includes an option to download data for an entire municipality. From the Layers dropdown check the Download items and click anywhere to download all the parcel data for that city or town.
The cached tiled web service that appears in Oliver and is available in ArcGIS Online includes these latest updates.
*** Note for State Agency users: The updated feature classes (GISDATA.L3_*) are in the VWP instance of MassGIS’ ArcSDE geodatabase.

MassGIS made the following changes to the Community Boundaries (Towns) from Survey Points data layer: 
Modified small sections of the Canton-Stoughton and Dartmouth-Westport boundaries based on further review from the affected towns of figures and descriptions found in the Harbor and Land Commission Atlases. Changes affect:


The data are found in the Political Boundaries folder in Oliver and the Data Viewer toolbar.

Energy and Environmental Affairs GIS staff have updated the Protected and Recreational OpenSpace layers (arcs and polygons), available from MassGIS.
Since the last publication to the web, staff at EEA and its associated agencies performed edits that improved the boundaries and/or attributes to over 400 polygons of recreational areas and open spaces in 79 municipalities
New shapefile and file geodatabase downloads represent data updated as of 6/24/2020.
The details:

  • Updates involve adding or improving the boundaries of many types of recreational areas and protected open spaces. Twelve school athletic fields, 259 conservation areas, 9 cemeteries, 30 water supply lands, 8 parks, and 78 conservation restrictions, resulting in a net gain of more than 4,600 acres in the database.
  • The Department of Conservation and Recreation - Parks performed edits in 38 municipalities for fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017, adding over 1,400 acres.
  • The Department of Fish and Game performed edits in 8 towns, adding more than 194 acres.
  • A town-wide update was completed for the Town of West Newbury.
  • Completed additional digitizing for EEA-sponsored programs:
    • 2 projects from EEA grants.
    • 1 acquisition that involved the Conservation Land Tax Credit.

The updates are reflected in the MassGIS Basemaps that appear in OLIVER and are available in ArcGIS Online.
Data also may be viewed and downloaded in OLIVER.
The data are in the Conservation/Recreation category in Oliver and the ArcMap Data Viewer.

The August data update from the Massachusetts Historical Commission is now available from MassGIS
For many years now, the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s Historic Inventory of historic places (points) and historic districts (polygons) has been available for viewing and download on our website. Until now, because the data changes very frequently, the data download functioned as a “clip and ship”; when a user made the request for the data, a query was run upon the MHC’s online MACRIS Maps mapping application to create the file for the user. Now, MassGIS is hosting static files that will be periodically updated.
In Oliver and the ArcMap Data Viewer the data are in the Cultural Resources folder.

The Fall NEARC will be virtual this year.
The Host Committee and NEARC Board are developing a format, schedule and fee structure for the virtual event which will include presentations, networking options, value for exhibitors and sponsors, and of course, some social and networking fun. Use the above link to watch for registration details or to join the mailing list for the event to be held November 16-18.
NEURISA Day 2020 will be virtual this year, spatially distant, but socially together. The event will be October 19-21. Use the link above for registration and more details. To become involved, email:

Massachusetts Bureau of Geographic Information – MassGIS
Executive Office of Technology Services and Security - EOTSS
One Ashburton Place – Floor 8 
Boston, MA 02108

Phone: (617) 619-5611
Fax: (617) 889-7833

Share your exciting project with the GIS community
MassGIS – The Commonwealth’s Bureau of Geographic Information is located within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, and is charged with the collection, enhancement, storage, and dissemination of the Commonwealth’s geographic data and information.
Neil MacGaffey, MassGIS Director
Curtis Wood, EOTSS Secretary
Karyn Polito, Lt. Governor
Charlie Baker, Governor

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