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May 2020

Table of Contents:

  1. How Massgis is Helping with the Covid-19 Response
  2. Website Refresh
  3. 911 Grant Eligibility Status
  4. Wrap Up of the Google Orthoimagery Program
  5. New Road Inventory Error Reporting Tool Created by MassDOT
  6. Database Updates
  7. Events
How Massgis is Helping with the Covid-19 Response
Since mid-March, MassGIS has been supporting the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency by developing a series of map layers that appear in MEMA’s COVID-19 Public Resources dashboard app. Leveraging our Master Address Database (MAD), MassGIS staff geocoded tabular data from authoritative source to create these web-based feature layers:
  • Locations of food pantries that partner with the Greater Boston and Worcester County Food Banks to provide free meals during the crisis.
  • More than 1,400 grab and go meal pickup locations in the state coordinated by Project Bread for kids and teens ages 0-18. Project Bread is working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and many schools and community partners to provide families with access to school meals while schools are closed. MassGIS is working with MEMA and Project Bread to facilitate continuing updates to the meal site listings.
 MassGIS also geocoded the locations of several hundred pharmacies. This mapping appears in a dashboard application viewed internally at MEMA and by the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force. The dashboard in MEMA’s COVID-19 Response also displays other free web services from MassGIS, such as Hospitals and Long Term Care Facilities as well as boundary layers and a basemap. The MEMA dashboard app also tracks the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths as well as hospital bed and ICU status.
MassGIS’ previous and ongoing efforts to maintain highly accurate infrastructure data like schools and places of worship (where many of the food assistance sites are located), based on the MAD, have also been a valuable resource. This work underscores the importance of having up-to-date, high quality data and the power of GIS to efficiently communicate important information to the public.
image shows MEMA Covid dashboard
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Covid-19 Dashboard
Website Refresh
Several years ago, our colleagues in the Digital Services Office within our agency lead the massive reinvention of the web site. A principal objective was greater uniformity across all agency web sites. Uniformity was achieved, in-part, by requiring use of templates for different web page types. MassGIS was an early adopter of the new templates. At the time, relatively few page type templates were available, so there were design constraints for our web content.
We now have available many more page type options some of which better fit our needs. This has enabled us to reorganize our web site so that MassGIS’ resources and services are more accessible. One key change has been the addition of our MassGIS Impacts and stories page.
Another key change is a clearer presentation of our various online mapping applications and a way to independently access the streaming data services that help make the apps run. That new section is titled Interactive maps & streaming webservices. Much of that content already existed and was simply reorganized. One new feature is an illustrated step by step guide on how to access the 2019 USGS Color Ortho Imagery as a streaming webservice to be used in software and web apps.
MassGIS has always been an important resource for cities and towns. We provide introductory information about GIS, examples of municipal GIS use, free data, a free mapping tool, standards and best practices, and information on other useful resources. We have consolidated and reorganized this content into our GIS resources and services for municipalities area. Our website will continue to evolve to best meet the needs of our varied constituency.
911 Grant Eligibility Status
Communities have an important role to play in keeping the State 911 address database and related mapping as up-to-date as possible; in fact they are required to do so in order to remain eligible for the Fiscal Year 2021 Support and Incentive Grants. The two requirements are:
  1. MassGIS receive a Standard compliant annual parcel dataset. If a mapping update is not undertaken in any one year, submitting a current ‘MassGIS standard” extract from the assessing database is required.
  2. As new addresses are adopted (or existing ones change or are retired) MassGIS must be notified of the change. Most cities and towns have process for distributing address updates both internally and to outside organizations (post office, utilities); MassGIS simply needs to be added to the distribution list. If no existing notification system exists, whomever is the addressing authority in the community will notify MassGIS about the new address and its location.
Non-compliance is normally discovered by the grant writer in the public safety department. The overwhelming majority of communities are staying current with these requirements; MassGIS is happy to advise communities needing to meet these eligibility requirements.
Wrap Up of the Google Orthoimagery Program

As previously announced, the streaming Google orthoimagery service subscription expires May 26th. Google has discontinued the program and diverse imagery needs in Massachusetts are best met, for now, with imagery owned by the state. Most recently these needs were met with a multi-agency funding model in partnership with the US Geological Survey. This resulted in the 2019 orthoimagery.

With funding from the State 911 Department, Google’s orthoimagery was provided by MassGIS to licensed users (everyone else could view for free online). Google contractors flew the planes, captured and processed the photographs, then made them available to MassGIS via Applied Geographics’ GIZA Tile Serving Appliance. Per Google licensing requirements, MassGIS created and managed accounts for eligible users, usually one per municipality or for companies doing work on their behalf. Licensed users consumed the imagery using different types of software clients such as desktop GIS, desktop CAD and web GIS. While the imagery did not always meet everyone’s needs, as documented below, this program was nonetheless successful; it also filled a void at a time when state agency funding was not available.

How successful was this program?

  • Over 210 million requests were received by the platform via WMTS or WMS
  • These streaming requests represent over 32 terabytes of data
  • 311 organizational accounts were created
  • 25 flights (each flight was a portion of the state) were license, capturing imagery from 2013-2018
image shows usage of google imagery
This heat map from our internal monitoring software shows interest and usage across the Commonwealth
New Road Inventory Error Reporting Tool Created by MassDOT

Have you ever noticed a mistake in the roads data we use in our basemaps and distribute for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation? We often hear from users about these errors and then iron things out with the GIS team at MassDOT. From now on these errors can be reported directly to MassDOT staff that do the editing by using the new Roadie (Road Inventory Error Reporter) Tool.

Data Updates
Standardized Parcels

The latest update comprises data for 64 cities and towns. For full metadata, the list of new towns (bottom of page) and links to the free data download, please visit this webpage.
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.

The MassDEP GIS Group has updated the following layers, now available from MassGIS: Data are up to date through April 1, 2020. In Oliver and the ArcMap Data Viewer, the data are found in the Regulated Areas folder.
With the Covid-19 emergency, most events have been canceled or moved online, including the 40th Annual ESRI User Conference to be held virtually during July 13-15.

The Host Committee for the Fall 2020 NEARC continues to plan for an onsite conference to be held at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods New Hampshire November 15-18.

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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