A bird's eye view is part of the town of Culpeper's brand new online mapping system going live today.
Aerial photography highlights the six-month long project that substantially upgraded the town's Geographic Information Systems site at http://townofculpeperva.gisbrowser.com. The Internet-based application relies on a simple and intuitive mapping interface allowing users to access local government real estate tax data and maps, according to a news release Monday.
The GIS can also be accessed via culpeperva.gov - click "more links" on the right side and then GIS online.
Before undertaking the upgrade with Sitevision, Inc. of Roanoke, town staff surveyed local GIS users to see which features they wanted — aerial photography was No. 1 on the wish list. The new site launching today features 2009 images, but when the state releases the latest images from this year those will be updated for the Culpeper system, according to the town release.
"We tried to incorporate the most requested new features into the project," said GIS coordinator Autumn Fitch. "The biggest thing is that it is cross compatible with so many browsers."
The town of Culpeper GIS, optimized for Google Chrome, is now accessible via Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox, for example. In order to access the old version, users had to download special software, but no more.
To save money, town GIS staff handled the front end of the conversion, changing old drawing files to the new format and handling the initial mapping set up. The overall project stayed within the existing GIS budget with no additional costs to taxpayers, according to the town. The GIS budget is included in the Information Technology Budget, about $856K total for the current fiscal year.
The new GIS system is accessible from tablets and smart phones as well as traditional computers. The town GIS team, with supervision from IT, will maintain the mapping layers, which can now be updated monthly or as needed.
The real estate tax database provided by the Culpeper County Assessor's Office will be updated quarterly.
"When the site goes live, the database will be accurate through Oct. 30," Fitch said. "The latest revision dates are posted below the mapping window on the new site."
Other new features include map layers for future land use and school district boundaries and additional tax data and property card information related to existing land use and zoning codes, outbuildings, assessment values, year built and last sold dates.
Culpeper Town Council will get a preview of the new system at its regular meeting tonight at 7 in the county administration building. GIS staff offers a public open house about the new program Nov. 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. in town hall, 400 S. Main St.