A geographic information system (GIS) is an integrated computer-based system designed to capture, store, edit, analyze, and display geographic information. Some examples of uses for GIS technology in local government are land records management, land use planning, infrastructure management, and natural resources planning. A GIS automates existing operations such as map production and maintenance, saving a great deal of time and money.
In 1994, the Huntingdon County Planning and Development Department began developing a countywide Geographic Information System (GIS). The Indiana University Spatial Science Research Center (SSRC) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania was hired as a consultant to assist the county with development of the GIS system. Initially, SSRC was charged with developing a base geographic information system for demographics and socioeconomic analysis and planning applications. This was accomplished through the use of US Census Bureau TIGER/LINE digital layer files (in particular the county, MCD, census tract, block, and block group layers).
In 1995, Huntingdon County began to focus on the need for accurate and usable municipal maps. The TIGER files (from the US Census Bureau) used to create the original municipal level maps did not have an accurate road layer, especially at the local level. To address this situation, the County, working with SSRC, decided to create new base maps for Huntingdon County using Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) digital road, municipality boundary, and water feature files. This process involved changing the county base data from US Census Bureau TIGER files to PennDOT feature files. During 1996-1997, new base data layers were created for the Huntingdon County GIS. These files were used to produce high quality and usable maps for the 48 municipalities in the County. At this time Atlas GIS software was used to maintain and create hard copy versions of the municipal maps.
From the latter part of 1996 through the beginning of 1998, SSRC was updating and maintaining two Huntingdon County GIS data sets for separate GIS software (Atlas and ArcView). During 1997, ESRI (producers of ArcView) acquired Strategic Mapping, Inc. (producers of Atlas GIS). ESRI offered an upgrade option for existing Atlas users to switch to ArcView. Since many of the state and local agencies (potential sources for data sharing) were already utilizing ESRI ArcView products, the Huntingdon County Planning and Development Department decided to move GIS development into the ArcView GIS software environment. In 1998, SSRC converted the Atlas data layers to the ArcView format for use in the Huntingdon County GIS.
From 1999 to the present, the focus of the work within the Huntingdon County GIS has been to develop and improve the accuracy of the county's GIS data layers and development of the Huntingdon County 911 Addressing Project. One of the many improvements was the horizontal datum conversion of all data layers from NAD27 to NAD83. Horizontal datum is a term used to describe the base description of the shape of the earth. The NAD83 definition of the earth is more accurate than the NAD27 definition previously utilized in the Huntingdon County GIS. The datum transformation improved the positional accuracy of the GIS files and ensured compatibility with the 911 addressing data development.
GIS was managed by Planning and Development until creation of the Huntingdon County Mapping Department in 2008. The Mapping Department is using ArcView GIS as a mapping tool to readdress the county for 911 emergency services. This process includes location and verification of existing addressable structures, creation of physical addresses in accordance with the Huntingdon County Street Naming and Addressing Ordinance and Policy, issuance of new physical addresses to all county residents, and maintenance of the 911 addressing database. Additional department efforts have focused on development of municipal base maps, comprehensive planning information, and development of additional GIS layers and mapping resources for the county. A table of the layers in our Standard GIS Dataset is included on this site.
With the creation of the Mapping Department, tax parcel mapping became part of the GIS. Over the past few years, tax parcel mapping data has been converted to a GIS data layer. Work on enhancing the spatial accuracy of this layer was conducted with the assistance of Penn State University. Paper tax maps continue to be available at the Tax Assessment Office, while the GIS layer is available by request from the Mapping Department.
Huntingdon County Mapping Department
233 Penn Street Huntingdon, PA 16652