A Little History
Clermont County, Ohio, has a proud and interesting history. This little county’s roots involve not only native American peoples such as the Shawnee, Cherokee, Wyandot, Mingo, Miami, and Delaware tribes, but also French royalty (the exiled king of France lived there in the early 1800s) and a Puritan utopian settlement. The county’s Historical Society is an active force in the community, and the county promotes good citizenship through participation in events such as the Ohio Saves Week (to promote the wise use of money) and the promotion of its two state parks. Nearby attractions include a variety of museums (including Ulysses S. Grant’s birthplace), a vineyard, the Freedom Trail (a tour of 33 Underground Railroad sites), a raceway, and “Jungle Jim’s International Market.”
Today the county has a relatively low population density—less than 400 people per square mile. The rural nature of the county as well as its low population has made it a prime candidate for GPS mapping, a project that the county undertook early in 2014.
Clermont County and GPS Mapping
Using mainly funds provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation, the county partnered with another Buckeye State entity, Digital Data Technologies Inc. (DDTi), to map all the county’s roads and create an accurate database of addresses at the same time. The partnership was formed as a part of Ohio’s Location Based Response System program, a program that dates back to 2011. According to an Ohio government website, “The Location Based Response System (LBRS) is an initiative of the Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP). The LBRS establishes partnerships between State and County government for the creation of spatially accurate street centerlines with address ranges and field verified site-specific address locations” (http://ogrip.oit.ohio.gov/ProjectsInitiatives/LBRS.aspx).
According to information provided by the Clermont Sun newspaper, accurate GPS mapping is accomplished by having two technicians drive a DDTi truck equipped with GPS technology down all the county’s roads at a slow rate of speed. Digital technology onboard creates accurate maps of the roads, and the truck’s operators verify and mark on a map each address—either a home or a business—on the map. The result, hopefully, will be accurate and up-to-date information on the roads and addresses of the county’s 66,000 households and places of business.
GIS, GPS, and DDTi
Back before the turn of the twenty-first century, the Ohio State Center for Mapping worked with DDTi’s founders to create mobile data collection vehicles. The goal was to provide accurate street addresses for use with geographic information systems (GIS). Without accurate information, such a system is largely useless.
So what’s the difference between GIS (geographic information systems) and a GPS (global positioning system)? Clearly the two are closely related, both having to do with mapping and locations. GIS is the more all-encompassing term, though. It includes any system—from hard copy (i.e., paper) maps to electronic databases—that includes specific information about where data is located. For example, where crimes have occurred over the past year. Or where all the intersections are in a city. Or, in the Clermont County example, where the county’s highways and roads run and where businesses, homes, or points of interest lie along those roads.
A global positioning system, on the other hand, uses satellite technology to specify the location of a certain person or vehicle. A small device makes contact with a number of satellites that pinpoint the device’s position, showing the user where he is on a map. Obviously, then, GPS technology is useful in creating accurate GIS maps, but the two systems are distinct from one another.
Since as far back as 1993, DDTi has been working with state and local government agencies as well as private corporations to provide “spatial solutions”—i.e., maps and mapping tools—with the goal of providing mapping information that is as accurate as possible. The company’s Mission Statement reads, “Ensuring the safety of lives and property by providing accurate spatial solutions.”
What’s the Purpose?
Of course, having accurate maps and addresses is quite important to county officials and agencies, including emergency response networks, police, and state patrols. When the County Dispatch Office receives an emergency call—say, for an automobile accident, theft, fire, or assault—having accurate, up-to-date, verified information as to the location of the event can save precious moments and can result in saved lives. Information gleaned can also be shared with other counties and can provide data that can be used statewide as well.
The process of GPS mapping the county was begun early in 2014. Officials state that their goal is to have the entire project completed by early summer.