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Help with utility mapping

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Hello everyone, as I have NO experience with cartography, this seems to be the place to find good advice. I'm doing some research on how to map out water distribution systems so that maintenance workers can locate distribution valves. I know there are probably some very cool sophisticated ways to do this, and I'd like to hear about those, but I'm mainly looking for the most basic approach possible so that it's not an overwhelming project for the average water department. I greatly appreciate any help.

Dennis McClendon

Dennis McClendon

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Well, this is not so much a mapping problem as a data collection problem. What form are your records in now? How do the workers currently find the valves? What size city are you in? Does the city have a GIS?
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics




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For an affordable, in-house solution, I would have your team collect the locations using paper maps for reference, and noting their location on the maps (probably with notes clarifying exact locations - "southeast corner of X Street and Y Street intersection", etc.)

You could then take the paper maps, "digitize" the field locations in Google Earth (pretty easy to do). Then you will have a Google Earth layer that can be made accessible to everyone. You could also make that layer available through the internet using Google Maps, which could then be viewable on handheld devices (cell phones, etc).

To do this, you might consider hiring a consultant to setup workflow, data collection practices, and making sure everything is correct and available online. Many of the firms on CartoTalk could do this fairly easily.

Good luck!

Matt Lamborn

Pacific Geodata

Hans van der Maarel

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As Matt pointed out, it can be fairly easy, and cheap, to at least get a basic mapping protocol set up, but the thing with utilities, and specifically water, is that there's a lot more advanced stuff that you can do once you have the proper data. However, you'd need specialised software to do that.

So I'd like to echo Dennis' comment... What are you currently using in terms of maps/software and what would you like to be able to do?
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

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