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Regional Data Center: Geographic Information Systems

[ SPC's Unified GIS ] [ Regional GIS Assessment ] [ Locating Regional Opportunities ] [ Links ]

GIS is an analytical tool that allows an operator to view map layers on a computer screen while accessing databases of the map features. By viewing the map layers simultaneously, one can analyze relationships within and between the different layers. GIS integrates data from different sources in a multitude of formats to represent any area within the region. Scenarios can be created to represent changes in the landscape, infrastructure, and populations.

GIS is used in-house by the SPC for a multitude of activities within the various departments. SPC also provides GIS data to its planning partners, transportation agencies, transit operators, consulting firms, businesses, environmental agencies, and various offices of federal, state, county, and municipal government. With over 60 map layers, SPC has one of the largest collections of comprehensive GIS data for the 10-county region.

SPC's Unified GIS

In 2002, SPC launched a collaborative effort to upgrade GIS data and operations across the region. Not only does this Unified GIS aid in establishing a single, regional data set representing the geography, topography, and land use for the entire ten-county region, it also establishes a working relationship with the region's GIS users. This cooperative process involves SPC's GIS staff and activities collaborating with local governments and planning partners to develop the following:

  • Technical and interoperability standards
  • Consistent information categories
  • Protocols for data development
  • Data exchange agreements

SPC is expanding their relationships with GIS users in the region, both public and private, to address issues, share data, and participate on region-wide activities to simplify the development and availability of accurate GIS data.

For a more detailed assessment of recent GIS-related activities, please see our Recent Activities page.

Locating Regional Opportunities

SPC’s regional Geographic Information System (GIS) and the wide variety of data it contains support regional transportation and economic development planning.  In a joint project of economic development professionals and SPC’s Planning & Development Department, key corridors were identified across the region based on the location of major highways and the proximity to rail and water transportation.  Key access points were identified in the corridors and SPC calculated 45-minute drive time polygons from each point in the corridors.  Recent demographic data was processed in the GIS to determine the working age populations in these 45-minute “workforce-sheds”.  SPC then compiled data for each workforce-shed to represent existing water and sewer service areas; freight connections at airports, railroads and river terminals; demographic data related to population density, single and multi-unit housing permits by municipality; and, targeted industry locations.  Using available development sites from the PA Site Search database, SPC digitized sites on addresses, coordinates or locational information, and created a database of site characteristics that was joined to each site that can be queried based on numerous criteria that companies might require.  This collection of data assembled for the region is used by SPC and its planning partners to target the locations for the public investment of transportation and economic development resources to advance the Regional Vision.

Also see: SPC Data Library.

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Regional GIS Assessment

As a first step in implementing the Unified GIS, SPC, with assistance from staff at the Geospatial Technology Program within Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, completed a brief Regional GIS Assessment for the 10-county region. SPC met with staff at the planning, assessment, 911, and other departments at each county and at the City of Pittsburgh and conducted short interviews concerning the status of existing or planned GIS activities. The report gives a general assessment of county GIS programs and presents recommendations toward a long-term strategy for the counties. For a copy of the report, click SPC GIS Assessment Report Summer 2003 (PDF--large file, 2.86M).

For a more detailed assessment of recent GIS-related activities, please see our Activities section below. You can also visit the Recent Activities page for the Regional Data Center Department in general here.

For additional information on GIS activities at SPC, please call Kirk Brethauer at (412) 391-5590 x 347 or e-mail kbrethauer@spcregion.org.

SPC Data Library

Sample Activities

Aerial Photography

Geographic Information
Systems (GIS)

Natural Infrastructure

Request Maps

Department Director:
Kirk Brethauer
(412) 391-5590 x347

Regional Data Center

Southwestern Pennsylvania

Two Chatham Center Suite 500
112 Washington Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412) 391-5590 (P)
(412) 391-9160 (F)

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