ABOUT SKAGIT COUNTY GIS
section covers where to find demographic information for Skagit County,
the operational structure of the GIS Department, and our office history.
Skagit County Demographic
Information: The US Census Bureau is one of the best sources to use
to find out more about Skagit County demography. One of their best tools
for doing demographic research is the American FactFinder. This tool offers
an interactive way to view maps showing demographic information.
For more information
about our community, go to "About
Maps: Listed below are several map products we have created that relate
to our demographic profile. For example, the Topographic Map Atlas provides
a detailed look at Skagit County's landscape and clearly defines areas
Skagit County Eco
Atlas 2000: a map series showing various ecological maps of Skagit County
including land cover, elevation, timber harvest areas, and etc.
Skagit County 2011
Topographic Map Atlas: a topographic map atlas.
FEMA Flood Maps: newly
adopted (2011) base flood elevations in Skagit County. Maps are produced
by GIS using 2011 FEMA data
The GIS Department is guided by the County mission statement and strategic
plan; the GIS mission statement; our key values; and operational structure.
We operate as a Central Service Department and charge our clients for
the services we provide.
Skagit County Mission
Statement: Skagit County is a very special place to live, with beautiful
and diverse communities and extraordinary natural resources. Skagit County
Government proudly serves the people, businesses, communities and organizations
in this special place, guided by these principles:
- We will partner
with our customers, based on mutual respect and trust, to protect and
plan for the health safety and welfare of current as well as future
- We will assist
our customers, based on fairness and justice, to understand and comply
with the intent of Federal and State regulations as well as our own.
- We will support
and honor our employees in their efforts to be progressive and innovative
in improving the efficiency and quality of services to our customers.
OUR MISSION is to
be recognized as a premier county in Washington State for providing professional
leadership, operational excellence, timely assistance, and maximum efficiency
in service delivery to our customers.
GIS Mission Statement: Our mission is to provide exceptional Geographic
Information System management and oversight that is beneficial to the
public, county business units, and our partners by providing a wide range
of GIS technical support services, training, open access to public information,
and creating efficient and informative tools for quick information access.
We strive to improve the health, safety, and quality of life of the citizens
of Skagit County.
GIS Core Values: The GIS Department has adopted the Code of Ethics of
the GIS Certification Institute. Additionally, we have developed our own
set of key values that we believe promote success in our daily GIS operations.
Skagit County GIS
- Improve Data Accuracy:
We believe it is important to always strive to improve the accuracy,
quality, and integrity of the data we create.
- Reduce Maintenance:
We believe maintenance of GIS data is very important; however, we always
strive to find ways to eliminate the need for maintenance through automation
or workflow. Reducing maintenance allows us to work more efficiently
and provide better service to our clients.
- Improve Automation
and Workflow: We believe that we can be more efficient through better
workflow and office automation and will strive to find ways we can become
more efficient with these methods.
- Educate Our Users:
We believe in empowering our user community by providing education and
training on GIS tools and technology trends.
- Anticipate Customer
Needs: We believe that it is important to anticipate our customer's
needs so that we can provide them with better technology and help them
to be more productive.
- Project Planning:
We believe in defining clear and obtainable project objectives and deliverables
when working with our customers.
- Public Access:
We believe in improving services to the public and providing the information
we create in a meaningful and easily accessible manor.
- Partnerships: We
believe in developing partnerships with other government agencies to
reduce costs, duplication of services, and to share information and
- Work On Stuff That
Matters: It's easy to work on things that accomplish little. We believe
in focusing our efforts on those things that will make a significant
difference. Spending time up front to thoroughly consider project vision,
return of investment, planning, work flow, deliverables, maintenance,
and benefit are all things we consider before taking on new challenges.
Structure: Skagit County Geographic Information Services is a division
of Central Services and reports to the County Administrator. The Central
Service Division is made up of Geographic Information Services, Information
Services, and Records Management. Central Services was formed in December
of 2003 under Resolution Number: R20030425.
History: In September 1987, Skagit County contracted with Roy F. Weston,
Inc. to conduct a feasibility study for the implementation of an automated
mapping system for use within the County. The lead departments which initiated
this study were the Assessor's Office, the Auditor's Office, the Department
of Public Works, and the Planning and Community Development Department.
Weston established a study methodology that included characterizing the
existing manual mapping system, identifying needs, establishing requirements,
and creating a set of recommendations based on the cost and benefits of
implementing those requirements. The study clearly established the following
direct and indirect cost benefits:
of Map Products
- Rapid Access to
Map Related Data
- Integration of
Existing Map and Non-Map Data Resources
- Elimination of
Map Updating Redundancies
- Better/More Products
to the Public
- Better Tools for
- Geographic Analysis
of Existing Data
The consultant recommended
using an accurate cadastral survey framework to correlate map features
with surveyed Public Land Survey System (PLSS) control points. Unfortunately,
the county did not have good survey records available and either had to
fund an expensive cadastral survey or find a cheaper alternative to meet
their business needs. Because of limited funding, they elected to acquire
the Department of Natural Resources PLSS control point network which was
made up of mathematically protracted points. These points had an estimated
accuracy of plus or minus 50 feet and this seemed acceptable for most
of the county's needs.
In 1988, the County
began the implementation of an automated mapping system by purchasing
computer equipment, AutoCAD software, and by training two Records Management
employees to begin building the cadastral map layers. A new Mapping Center
division was formed under the Records Management Department. The result
was the creation of two products: Assessor tax parcel maps and Public
Works right-of-way maps. A road right-of-way research specialist was hired
shortly after to help to assist the mapping technicians in the collection
and compilation of right-of-way records. The Mapping Center included these
three employees who were managed by the Records Management Coordinator.
In 1989, Skagit County
formed the Data Processing Department to better manage the numerous computer
systems that were quickly propagating throughout the County. The Mapping
Department was moved from the Records Management Department to the Data
Processing Department since both departments had similar technology issues
and both were service providers for all county departments. The Data Processing
Department hired a GIS Manager in 1991 to oversee Mapping Center staff
and to provide guidance for GIS development in Skagit County.
In 1992, the County
began to realize some of the limitations of AutoCAD software and decided
to purchase ArcInfo GIS (Geographic Information System) software from
ESRI. AutoCAD software was still used for the cadastral mapping effort,
but ArcInfo was a better tool for handling projects, such as, the Washington
Growth Management Act (GMA) that required complex spatial analysis. The
Data Processing Director resigned in 1994 and a new director was hired.
A prudent business decision was made by the County Administrator to separate
the Mapping Center from the Data Processing Department.
Pressure for mapping
services to support the GMA slowed the cadastral mapping effort. In addition,
in 1996, the Mapping Center was given the additional challenge of readdressing
approximately 22,000 rural addresses. However, before the readdressing
effort could begin, the cadastral mapping had to be completed and two
more employees were hired to expedite this work. The cadastral mapping
was finished in 1997 and the Mapping Center quickly began the process
of readdressing the County. The readdressing project was completed in
1998 and an Addressing Coordinator was hired in 1999 to manage the new
address system. The readdressing project brought forth new technologies
to expedite the project, such as, a Global Positioning System (GPS), linear
referencing using a truck installed Distance Measuring Instrument (DMI),
truck mounted laptop computers, and our first in-house written software
applications. The department began sending staff to software and database
development courses to further enhance their GIS capabilities. In 1999
a staff member earned a Computer Science degree and was promoted to a
GIS Software Engineer.
The department's success
in writing software applications led to further advancement in GIS software
development. With the 1999 release of ESRI's Map Objects tool kit, the
Mapping Center created it's first GIS application called SkagitView which
provided a simple; yet powerful, mapping tool for any county employee
that needed desktop mapping. Success in software development also helped
the department to automate many mapping processes which enhanced office
efficiency and reliability. About this same time, ESRI launched their
Spatial Database Engine (SDE) product which changed the GIS database architecture
from single-use to an enterprise-wide scalable architecture. The Mapping
Center began the seemingly slow process of converting their traditional
GIS datasets to the new SDE format.
A salmon study
in the early 1990's identified wild spawning salmon stocks that were at
risk of extinction or of special concern. In response to this crisis,
the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife began developing a Wild
Salmonid Policy, to focus the agency's efforts on protecting and preserving
wild salmon. By 1998, the Mapping Center became very involved with projects
designed to help restore the salmon population in Skagit County and another
employee was hired early in 2001 that specialized in remote sensing technology,
forestry and landscape ecology. The Mapping Center name was changed to
the Geographic Information Services (GIS) Department to better define
its role as a county-wide service provider specializing in all aspects
of spatial technology.
Also in 2001, the
GIS Department contracted with Skagit 911 to provide geographic services
for the Spillman public safety system and the Master Street Address Guide
(MSAG). An employee was hired to coordinate information with the 46 different
fire, law, medial, and government agencies to ensure the public safety
system would have accurate geocoded information for enhanced 911 services.
The GIS Departments
experience in public safety system service and natural disaster support
led them to earning a strong reputation for using GIS as a tool to provide
critical support services during these events. In July of 2007, two GIS
staff members became part of the Type 3 Northwest Incident Management
Team (NWIMT). This elite team was the first Type 3 team in the State of
Washington and the 20th in the United States. The NWIMT provides multi-agency
and multi-jurisdictional support for All-Hazards.
Since its inception
20 years ago, the GIS Department has increased its staff to10 full time
employees that support approximately 35 different divisions of Skagit
County government, as well as, providing contract services to more than
20 outside agencies. The staff manages more than a terabyte of information
and has recently implemented new technologies, such as, LIDAR (Light Detection
and Ranging) and Pictometry to help streamline services in Skagit County
government. Their software development team has also implemented award
winning web applications which include iMap and Crime Map. These applications
account for nearly 2 million web page views per year and are consistently
the top picks on Skagit County's web site. The GIS Department has won
several awards at the State level for outstanding work in GIS. And on
June 20th, 2007, the Skagit County GIS Department was recognized for excellence
in the Geographic Information System (GIS) field with a Special Achievement
in GIS (SAG) award at the 26th Annual ESRI International User Conference
in San Diego, California. ESRI, the world leader in GIS software, presents
the award to organizations and agencies that display dedication and commitment
through their use of GIS technology. The winners of the award are chosen
out of more than 150,000 organizations worldwide. In addition to their
technical merit, the GIS Department has also had their maps published
(2006-2007) in the prestigious ESRI Map Book which demonstrates their
versatility in both technical and cartographic expertise.
It's taken about
20+ years of hard work but we have managed to achieve a few awards and
honors along the way. The following are some of the things we have achieved:
- 2005 WAURISA Summit
Award: The Summit Award is given to the Washington State GIS Person
of the Year. It is given to a person who has contributed to the GIS
Community in Washington State. This award is given out annually at the
WAURISA Conference held in spring. Geoff Almvig, GIS Manager, received
this award is 2005.
- 2007 Special Achievement
In GIS Award: The movie industry has the Academy Awards; theater has
the Tony's; and the GIS community has the Special Achievement in GIS
(SAG) Awards. On June 20th, the Skagit County GIS Department was recognized
for excellence in the Geographic Information System (GIS) field with
a 2007 Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award at the Twenty-sixth Annual
ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California. ESRI, the
world leader in GIS software, presents the award to organizations and
agencies that display dedication and commitment through their use of
GIS technology. The winners of the award are chosen out of more than
150,000 organizations worldwide.
- The SAG awards
celebrate the achievement and vision of innovators in the GIS field,"
says Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. "Each winner brings benefits
to their communities and influences others to do the same. To make a
successful system takes a lot of work," he said. "Someone
starts with an idea and it has to be sold and designed. You have to
figure out what is needed and get management support."