Swift County GIS data is now available to the public

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Swift County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) pictometry data is now on the county’s website and available to the public.

At their Feb. 6 meeting, the Swift County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to “go live” with the public-facing GIS interactive map the county has compiled.

Over the past three years, Swift County has been using aerial pictometry photos to develop a comprehensive inventory of the land and structures that cover its 752 square miles.

The high-resolution aerial photos have entered in to a computerized geographic information system (GIS) database and overlaid with a vast amount of data.

Pictometry provides a detailed and accurate map of the land showing streams, rivers, wetlands, wooded areas, and lakes. It displays feedlots, cropland including acres that are irrigated, pastureland, private ditches, and public ditches. It shows the structures on the land including houses, dairy barns, turkey barns, feedlots, machinery sheds, grain storage facilities, fuel storage tanks and windmills.

Those photos give accurate data on section corner markers and detailed parcel information, though the county issues a warning of caution for solely relying on the data it has collected to be perfectly accurate.

Still Swift County GIS Coordinator Chelsey Bagent told county commissioners earlier this month that the data is “pretty accurate, but not survey grade.”

The assessor’s office can use the pictometry images to update its records and see where it might have missed a new building that needs to be added to the tax rolls. Not only do the photos show an overhead view of the land and buildings, they also can provide an oblique view. The assessor’s office can measure the height, width and length of a building.

The photos can be overlaid with addresses and zoning information. Federal, state, county and township road rights of way can be detailed on the maps. The 911 addresses are listed. In cities, subdivisions can be highlighted. School district boundaries can be shown.

Tools are available that allow you to measure the distance between two objects, such as the distance between a feedlot and the nearest neighboring home or wetland, to a  few feet. You can draw squares, circles or triangles, as well as other shapes, with the measurements of all sides given. The area you draw can give you the acres included.

County personnel and departments have become active users of the GIS data over the past three years, with the information available on a computer screen saving them hours of work that once took them out of the office.

Swift County has invested well over $200,000 into the development of the GIS system. Last year commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with the contract for the 2018 pictometry at a cost of $92,108. Those funds are paid out at about one-third a year.

The last comprehensive photomap of the county was taken in 2015 and cost $76,000. Despite it being costly to conduct the pictometry flights that gather the photos, commissioners agreed it is important to update them at least every three years....


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