DEC Announces New Mapping Gateway Website
On December 3, 2009, DEC announced a new Mapping Gateway website that will help the public find wildlife, accessible recreation, boat launch sites and other items of interest. According to DEC, it has utilized technology available through Google.com to make it easier for web visitors to view user-friendly information specific to their interests on a variety of topics and without the need for complex, expensive geographic information system (GIS) software. DEC’s Mapping Gateway combines existing web mapping applications and map collections with new offerings, such as a full-featured, interactive data inventory and map viewer.
In recent months, DEC has been expanding the availability of “Virtual Globe Data” to enable visitors to retrieve a variety of interactive aerial map representations after downloading virtual globe software such as Google Earth. In addition, DEC has incorporated some data into Google Maps, which does not require any software downloads, to provide an even more accessible way for people to obtain DEC’s information. The Google Maps functionality provides location information and also lets users easily obtain driving directions.
Among the enhancements to DEC’s Mapping Gateway are the following:
(1) Accessible Recreation Destinations that offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. Users can see which accessible features are present at each site and view photographs of the different destinations;
(2) Boat Launch Sites owned or operated by DEC that provide the public with facilities for launching their vessels for fishing or boating. Users can see the type of launching facilities available at each site and if their boat can be accommodated;
(3) Public Fishing Stream Parking Areas that provide anglers easy access to waterways allowing public fishing opportunities. In addition to the parking areas, maps of waters with public fishing rights are linked to this section;
(4) New York State Breeding Bird Atlas information, enabling users to select a location and view a list of bird species that are found in that area, or select a species and see the bird’s distribution; and
(5) Bird Conservation Areas, DEC Campgrounds, Lake Contour Maps, and the Northern/Southern Hunting Zone Line had previously been viewable using Google Earth and can now also be accessed using Google Maps.
DEC’s map viewers and other geographic information system (GIS) tools provide the public with important location-specific information about many of the programs DEC manages. In addition to the offerings above, the website also includes the locations of ecological zones, brownfields, dams, and bulk storage facilities. Instructions are available on the website for those needing information about how to download and use the Google Earth software. By using Google and leveraging existing technology that many people are already familiar with, DEC is able to reduce software development costs. In addition, the available data is compatible with other virtual globe software like ArcGIS Explorer and NASA’s WorldWind, enabling the public to use the data in many different contexts.