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Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011

UITS honored by state council for imagery technology supporting public, private sectors

More than $1.75 billion in Indiana projects and government operations being supported by IndianaMap

March 10, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the new high-tech imagery being provided by Indiana University's University Information Technology Services (UITS) for use by everyone from local historians to international researchers is also being translated into countless economic and educational opportunities for both the public and private sectors.

In recognizing the new online services provided through the Indiana Spatial Data Portal's (ISDP) ArcGIS Server, the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC) has awarded UITS a 2011 Excellence in Geographic Information Systems Award.


UITS professional staffers Justin Peters, left, and Anna Radue were instrumental in creating new Indiana imagery services that are now being used by a wide range of government agencies, corporations and individuals.

The portal began with a single UITS grant in 1999 and has since become an access point to more than 20 terabytes of Indiana geographic data that includes everything from Indiana historic photographs to current aerial imagery. The system is designed to empower the role geographic information technologies can play in improving government services, economic growth, the environment, and health and safety.

There are now nearly 2,500 ISDP users that range from the state's largest utilities and universities, federal and state agencies, and private engineering and insurance companies, to non-profit organizations and the general public. The IGIC announcement noted a recent survey showing more than $1.75 billion in Indiana projects and government operations being supported by IndianaMap.

ISDP, an asset within IndianaMap, is the authoritative archive for Indiana's orthophotography (aerial photographs with the visual content of a photograph and the accuracy of a map), is the most robust source of Indiana imagery available and offers a suite of services to allow users to download the imagery or access web map services online.

Craig Stewart, executive director of the Pervasive Technology Institute and associate dean of research technologies at IU, credited IU database and GIS specialist Anna Radue, who this week begins a one-year term as president of IGIC, for her sustained efforts supporting the spatial data portal since her work began at UITS as professional staff in 2000.

"Anna Radue has served the Indiana GIS community for many years, and this award and her new role as president of IGIC are testament to the value of her many years of service to Indiana -- the state and the university," he said. Radue, who also represents the education sector on the IGIC board, holds a dual master's degree in environmental science and public affairs from IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).

The award, received last week during the 2011 Indiana GIS Conference, was specifically for creating new ArcGIS Server services that access 17 different Indiana imagery datasets. The new web map services allow users to access 20 terabytes of Indiana imagery from their personal computers or mobile devices such as smartphones.

"The value of this geographic data is not the data itself, but the usage. The more geodata is used, the more valuable it is, and the ISDP is making it possible for anyone to access and use these Indiana datasets either by downloading or using online web services," Radue said. "We were not sure we could use the Intelligent Infrastructure hardware for these services, but the performance is excellent. My co-worker, Justin Peters, created and manages these web services and deserves much of the credit for this implementation."

A sample of users that commended UITS for its improvements to the spatial data portal included the U.S. Army, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Office of Technology, and from the corporate user group, Virginia-based Image Matters.

White River

This imagery from the Indiana Spatial Data Portal shows the extent and depth of flooding of the East Fork of the White River near Seymour in 2008. Work by UITS on the portal has earned IU a 2011 Excellence in Geographic Information Systems Award.

"Access to seamless imagery in a one-stop location allows us to efficiently analyze existing facilities and effectively plan for future growth," said Nathan Eaton of the U.S. Army's Camp Atterbury. "The UITS project deserves special recognition because it addresses the data distribution requirement by providing essential imagery for the benefit of all Hoosiers."

Jeffrey Ehman, director of Midwest operations for Image Matters and a part-time instructor at IU's SPEA, said he knew of "no other provider of imagery services at a state or federal level that has taken such a comprehensive approach to addressing the spectrum of user needs."

And Roger Koelpin, a section chief with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, called the improvements "the envy of my peers in Homeland Security and Emergency Management" across the nation. "Imagery and other data made available to the general public by UITS is a valuable resource for local, county, state, federal, public and private sector partners," he added.

Stewart agreed, noting that, "Indiana University's information technology portfolio, including University Information Technology Services and other partners in the Pervasive Technology Institute benefit the state of Indiana in many ways."

One in five work tickets handled by UITS staff at the portal are from users not associated with IU, and a recent report analyzing the value of the initial $8.5 million investment in IndianaMap found that it supports 200 times its value in project and operations, with 86 percent of those users stating they could not do their projects without it.

"The Indiana Spatial Data Portal is particularly valuable because it is used by many private citizens of the state as well as state government agencies," added Stewart.

At least one other Excellence in GIS Award winner, Wayne County, which won in the county excellence category, depended on ISDP for its historic imagery project, Radue noted.

The new ISDP ArcGIS Server's suite of services operates on IU's Intelligent Infrastructure (II) through UITS' Enterprise Infrastructure Division and accesses a six-terabyte, Oracle geodatabase supported by UITS' Research Database Complex. The ISDP's data discovery and download services use UITS' Massive Data Storage System and its Consolidated Housing Environment.

"The Intelligent Infrastructure system provides a flexible, scalable package that offers reduced costs, a secure environment, and professional support staff," Radue said. "We think UITS serves the state well."

To speak with Stewart, Radue or others, or for more information, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or