GIS for Local Government: Public Works

Maptitude

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Author and Maps: Brett Lucas, Stewart Berry

This article explores how to use GIS in local or Municipal Government.

Many local governments are being asked to have a more transparent relationship with their citizens, which has been supported by technologies like geographic information systems (GIS) and other data visualization tools which allows communities to manipulate, analyze, and present data in a geographic form.

GIS as a tool, can help local government decision-makers, policymakers, and others visualize data for a variety of applications. 


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This could include:

  • Constructing and managing road networks
  • Analyzing land use for infrastructure planning
  • Identifying areas for waste disposal and stormwater management
  • Analyzing environmental conditions
  • Tracking assets for maintenance and repair

As a local government, utilizing GIS can help you better communicate that data through a visual component. Many local governments have found ways to leverage geospatial data across an organization in areas like building permit inspections, code enforcement, and street repair. 

GIS Software for Government

Maptitude mapping software is an ideal software platform for local governments (especially smaller municipalities on a tight budget at only $695) to leverage geospatial data across an organization. Maptitude is a full featured desktop or online GIS and mapping software that gives you the tools, maps, and demographic data to analyze and understand how geography affects you and your community. 

In this article we will demonstrate an application of Maptitude in the municipal government sector for public works.

Public Works – How to add utility lines to a map

For this example, we will be using the City of Perry, Iowa. Perry is a town of 7,000 people located approximately 16 miles to the northwest of Des Moines.

One of the features that makes Maptitude so ideal for this task, is that when one uses the United States county package, several different aerial imagery layers are available, which makes great beginning point for creating a water and sewer layers. 

Start Maptitude and turn on aerial imagery

Start Maptitude, and select “New Map of the United States,” select “US City,” and select “Perry, IA.” A map zoomed into Perry Iowa should appear on the desktop.

Next, you may want to turn on some aerial photography (three choices available in Maptitude) to aid in creating a utility layer. I recommend setting the opacity at 50%. Zoom into your area of interest.

At this point, your map should look something like the map shown in Map 1.

An aerial image showing a suburban area with lots of green space.
Map 1 – Maptitude Workspace – Study Area.

When mapping Public Works data, sewer lines are generally mapped in green or brown, and water is generally mapped in blue. Reclaimed water is generally mapped in purple. 

Add sewer main GIS data

Now, we want to add some Sewer Mains that go from the Wastewater Treatment Plant to one of the neighborhoods located southwest of downtown.

To map sewer lines, we need to create a new line layer. To do that, click on Tools > Editing > New Layer. A new dialogue box will appear.

Within the dialogue box select the radio button for “Line Layer.” Name the new layer “Sewer Main.” Select the radio button to add the layer to the current map window.

A dialogue box in Maptitude for a new layer.
Figure 1 – New Layer dialogue box in Maptitude.

Next, in the Display Manager, select the “Sewer Main Layer,” and change the line width to 2 and the color to brown. 

Now would be a good time to modify the layer and add some fields to describe our Sewer Main. Select Dataview > Table > Modify to add some new fields to your line layer.

Add a new field called “Pipe Type” (20 characters) and a second field called “Pipe Size” (2 characters). For Pipe Type, change the field type to “character,” and for Pipe Size, change the filed type to “integer.” Once the changes are made, click “ok.”

The table should look like Figure 2.

The "modify table" dialogue box in Maptitude.
Figure 2 – Modify Table dialogue box in Maptitude.

Adding a sewer line in Maptitude

With “Sewer Main” as your active layer, turn on the “Layer Editing Toolbar” by clicking on Tools > Editing > Layer Editing Toolbar. Next select “add line” and start laying out your sewer main on your Maptitude workspace.

Once you have added a line on the map, then click on the “green light.”

At this point your workspace should look like Map 2.

An aerial image with a brown line representing a sewer line.
Map 2 – Maptitude Workspace with Sewer Main from the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Next, we need to zoom in and edit the location of the Sewer Main (to make sure it is in the middle of the alley) within the neighborhood located in the northeast portion of the workspace.

Going back to the “Layer Editing Toolbar,” click on the “Modify line” icon to edit the location of the Sewer Main. Then click on the line you wish to edit.

Some boxes will appear, and you use those boxes and anchor points in modifying the location of the line. Once done, click on the “green light” to record the changes.

A faded aerial image with a brown line representing a sewer main line.
Map 3 – Maptitude Workspace with edited Sewer Main location in alley.

Adding attributes to the sewer line in Maptitude

With “Sewer Main” as your active layer, click on the “Info” icon on the toolbar, and then click on the Sewer Main in the neighborhood.

A new dialogue box will appear for the Dataview. Here we can edit the information in the two new fields that we recently created.

In the “Pipe Type” field, enter the word “Ductile Iron.” In the Pipe Size field, enter “8” for 8-inch diameter. The table should look like Figure 3. 

A dialogue box for editing attribute data in Maptitude.
Figure 3 – Dataview dialogue box.

Adding sewer laterals to the sewer main in Maptitude

Now we need to add some Sewer Laterals from the Sewer Main to the back of each of the houses.

We will create a new layer called “Sewer Lateral.” To do this, click on Tools > Editing > New Layer.

A new dialogue box will appear. Within the dialogue box, select the radio button for “Line Layer.” Name the new layer “Sewer Lateral.”

Select the radio button to add the layer to the current map window. In the Display Manager, select the Sewer Main Layer, and change the line width to 1.5 or 2 and the color to light brown.

You may also want to go into the Dataview and modify the layer and add some fields to describe the Sewer Lateral (i.e., install date, material, size, etc.). 

With “Sewer Lateral” as your active layer, turn on the “Layer Editing Toolbar” by clicking on Tools > Editing > Layer Editing Toolbar. Next select “add line” and start laying out your Sewer Laterals on your Maptitude workspace.

Add the lines on the map, and then click on the “green light.”

At this point your workspace should look something like Map 4.

A faded aerial map with brown lines for sewer lines.
Map 4 – Maptitude Workspace with Sewer Laterals off of the Sewer Main in the alley.

Mapping water mains in Maptitude

Now we need to add some Water Mains from the Water Works Facility to the neighborhood.

Unlike Sewer Mains which are generally located in the alley, Water Mains are usually located in the street in front of the house.

We will create a new layer called “Water Main.” To do this, click on Tools > Editing > New Layer.

A new dialogue box will appear. Within the dialogue box select the radio button for “Line Layer.” Name the new layer “Water Main.”

Select the radio button to add the layer to the current map window. In the Display Manager, select the “Water Main Layer,” and change the line width to 2 and the color to medium or dark blue.

You may also want to go into the Dataview and modify the layer and add some fields to describe the Water Main (i.e., install date, material, size, etc.).

At this point your workspace should look something like Map 5.

A faded aerial map with blue lines for water mains and brown for sewer lines.
Map 5 – Maptitude Workspace with the Water Main from the Water Works Facility.

Add attributes to the water main layer in Maptitude

This would be a good time to modify the layer and add some fields to describe our Water Main.

Select Dataview > Table > Modify to add some new fields to your line layer. Add a new field called “Pipe Type” (20 characters) and a second field called “Pipe Size” (2 characters).

For Pipe Type, change the field type to “character,” and for Pipe Size, change the filed type to “integer.” Once the changes are made, click “ok.” 

Next, we will want to zoom back into the neighborhood were the Sewer Laterals we added earlier are located. If need be, now is a good time to edit/modify the line location of the Water Main.

Next, create a new layer called “Water Lines.” In the Display Manager, select the “Water Line Layer,” and change the line width to 1.5 and the color to light or medium.

You may also want to go into the Dataview and modify the layer and add some fields to describe the Water Line (i.e., install date, material, size, etc.).

At this point your workspace should look something like Map 6.

A faded aerial map with blue lines for water and brown for sewer lines.
Map 6 – Maptitude Workspace with the Water Lines going to each house.

Adding water meters to a map in Maptitude

Now with all our sewer and water (line) infrastructure laid out, we now need to add Water Meters. First zoom into neighborhood, so one can see the sidewalks.

We will create a new layer called “Water Meter.” To do this, click on Tools > Editing > New Layer. 

Within the dialogue box, select the radio button for “Point Layer.” Name the new layer “Water Meter.” Select the radio button to add the layer to the current map window.

In the Display Manager, select “Water Meter,” and edit the Style. Select a hexagon with a dot in the middle. Make the size 12 and blue.

You may also want to go into the Dataview and modify the layer and add some fields to describe the Water Meter (i.e., date of installation, ID or ERT (encoder receiver transmitter), etc.).

The Style dialogue box should look like Figure 4.

An interface showing style icons in Maptitude.
Figure 4 – Style dialogue box.

With “Water Meter” as your active layer, turn on the “Layer Editing Toolbar” Next select “Add point” and start laying out Water Meters on your Maptitude workspace.

Add the points on the map, and then click the “green light.”

At this point your workspace should look something like Map 7.

A faded aerial with blue lines for water mains, blue dots for water meters, and brown for sewer lines.
Map 7 – Maptitude Workspace with Water Meters in front of each home.

With the Water Meter layer active, click in the “Info” icon and edit the data in the Water Meter fields. For the “Install Date” a drop-down calendar will appear, so one can enter a date.

The “ERT Number” has been set up as an 8-digit number to fill in.

At this point, your map should look something like the map shown in Map 8, with the Water Meter Dataview shown.

A faded aerial with blue lines for water meters and an overlay of a data view box.
Map 8 – Maptitude Workspace with Water Meters and Water Meter Dataview.

Conclusion

Once completed, you will have a utilities map for the community.

The sewer and water main map can be saved as a pdf or jpg to be shared as a static map on a website, or it could be printed out poster size.

Maps created within the desktop environment can also be uploaded and turned into an online interactive map via the Maptitude Online portal.

Maptitude is an extremely powerful software package for municipal governments for public works. For example, water crews could use the results of such an analysis to better determine where leaks are occurring based on the age of the pipe. 

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