National GIS Inventory

The GIS Inventory is a system maintained by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) as a tool for the entire GIS Community. It allows users to quickly search for GIS data to meet their business requirements. It also helps government agencies to effectively coordinate and build Spatial Data Infrastructures.

Its primary purpose is to track data availability and the status of geographic information system (GIS) implementation in state and local governments to aid the planning and building of statewide spatial data infrastructures (SSDI). The system moves its FGDC-compliant metadata (CSDGM Standard) for each data layer to a web folder and a Catalog Service for the Web (CSW) that can be harvested by Federal programs and others. This provides far greater opportunities for discovery of your information.

The GIS Inventory (a.k.a. “Ramona”) was originally created in 2006 by NSGIC under award NA04NOS4730011 from the Coastal Services Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The Department of Homeland Security has been the principal funding source since 2008 and they have supported the development of subsequent versions. Currently, funding is being provided through DHS contract HSHQDC-12-00104. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have provided additional resources to maintain and improve the GIS Inventory.

The GIS Inventory is maintained by individual users that document their own organizational information and data holdings. The National Cadastral Inventory is maintained by key cadastral contacts in each state to support their unique business requirements. The long-term goal is to merge both systems to provide even better services and features for their users.

As a former Board Member of the National States Geographic Information Council, Jill Saligoe-Simmel helped conceptualize this nationwide project and secure initial grant funding. Project design, requirements assessment and management at various stages by BurGIS LLC, Saligoe-Simmel LLC, A.J. Wortley and Fairview Industries. Jill continues to provide technical assistance to the project. GIS Inventory website, system, and database design by RunSkip, LLC.

Communicating Value of GIS to Policy-Makers

Over the past several years, I have been involved in leading the Indiana Geographic Information Council and developing a statewide spatial data infrastructure, known today as the IndianaMap. Let’s face it, GIS is a complex technology, and that can be intimidating.  A statewide (or national for that matter) spatial data infrastructure requires adherence to data and technology standards, strong collaborations, coordinated funding, and more.

In 2006, the IndianaMap Return on Investment (RIO) Study proved the value of the IndianaMap as an investment in Indiana.

The challenge was, how best to communicate those results? The report was presented in an unconventional “newspaper” format directed at the target audience – primarily legislators and other elected officials. The format provided the advantages of attention-grabbing headlines; topical organization (for example, transportation, economic development, and environment), and photo-documented case studies. The paper was printed on full-sized news-stock and folded like a traditional newspaper, with room for a mailing address on the reverse 1/2 fold.


The ROI analysis identified current GIS spending, duplication of effort, needs, benefits, financial and non-financial return. The objective of the project was to substantiate adequate funding (or establish cost sharing mechanisms) to support and enable the operation. The results of the ROI demonstrate that over $1.7 billion in Indiana projects and programs are supported by the IndianaMap, with 90% of respondents indicating that the IndianaMap was essential to their project. A 34:1 ROI in less than three years was documented. The entire study was supplemented by additional qualitative use-benefits, testimonials, and case studies.

The Economic Benefits of the IndianaMap return on investment study was conducted by Saligoe-Simmel, LLC and the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC). The study was supported by a grant from the Federal Geographic Data Committee Cooperative Agreements Program Grant Agreement Number: 07HQAG0042. Download the PDF.

Designed & Illustrated by Matt Kelm

Huck Finn Project

In concert with the 2005 Indiana Orthophotography Project, an education and outreach project was established inviting schools, communities, and youth organizations to create large outdoor artworks to be captured in photographs as planes flew overhead mapping the state.

The Huck Finn Project celebrated youth though fun and creative learning experiences that kids can really “own”. Through a series of lesson plans and activities, Indiana schools were invited to learn about art, geography, literature, math, science and government, history and their community while developing creative artworks to be captured in the IndianaMap.

  • Art – schools participate in art design competitions to develop artwork to be transferred onto outdoor surfaces to be captured in the Spring 2005 orthophotography. Through the “Paint Your Playground” students learn about color, composition, and scale. When the new orthophotography is available in the late fall of 2005 / early winter of 2006, art work will be displayed on the web in a specially designed mapping application. Selected art works will be formally exhibited at a number of forums through the state and nationally.
  • Geography – learn the basics of aerial imagery and map making and how maps are made and used in the 21st century. Grade-appropriate lesson plans focus on location, measurement, cartography, electronic map navigation, weather, and more!
  • Literature – advanced grades can learn more about one of America’s most noted author, Mark Twain, by retracing the steps of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn down the Mississippi River.
  • Math – use math skills as you learn the geometry of correcting the flat surfaces of photography to the round, hilly surfaces of the earth.
  • Science and Government – advanced lessons introduce students to geographic information systems – a technology that is emerging as an essential toolset for scientific discovery and the business of government – Why is the State orthophotography being flown? What is the IndianaMap?
  • History – learn about the evolution of “remote sensing” and aerial photography from the use of hot air balloons through satellite imagery.
  • Community – each school’s artwork can reflect a theme about their community.

Partners: Indiana Geographic Information Council, Inc. Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana, Inc. IndianaView at Purdue University Indiana Geological Survey at Indiana University Access Indiana Information Network
Funded by: Alliance for Indiana

Jill Saligoe-Simmel conceptualized the projects over cocktails with

  • Designed project and secured grant funding
  • Coordinated project team
  • Developed educational materials and supporting website

Guidance From Above: IndianaMap Across Indiana

Over the past several months, I worked with producer Aric Hartvig of WFYI to document some of the uses and benefits of the IndianaMap for their series Across Indiana. In 2005, Indiana developed very high resolution orthophotography (aerial photography) as part of a single, consistent digital base map for geographic information systems — called the IndianaMap. The photography has made quite an impact –saving money, time, and lives by making an accurate base map available to everyone. This segment from WFYI documents some of those benefits.

Featured in the video are several Indiana Geographic Information Council members, including: Anna Radue – Indiana University UITS; Jim Binkley, Scottsburg Municipal Electric Utility; Nathan Eaton, Indiana Geological Survey; Brooke Gajownik, Hamilton County Sheriffs Office; Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Indiana Geographic Information Council.

Thanks WFYI!

Information for Indiana: GIS Issues Brief

Information for Indiana is a collaborative project launched by Governor Mitch Daniels in July 2005. It brings together government, university, and private resources in an effort to build a solid foundation of data and analysis for improved policy-making and administrative decision-making by public and private leaders statewide. IFI is working with internal and external partners to assess, improve, and coordinate the collection, management, dissemination, and analysis of vital Indiana data.


This publication is one of a series of subject area issue briefs authored by project steering committee members and other contributors who have been engaged to support the IFI project work through activities such as conducting case studies and assisting in pilot project initiation and implementation. Support for these publications is generously provided by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.