system (GIS) is a computer system capable of assembling,
and displaying geographically referenced information (i.e. spatial
This system should include:
Geographic information systems
belong to a
family of mapping and drafting programs that includes computer-aided
(CAD) and automated mapping and facilities management (AM/FM). GIS is
from CAD and AM/FM by its capacity to perform complicated analytical
that often include combining information from different sources to
- hardware (computers,
plotters, scanners, GPS units, etc.)
- software (programs like
MapInfo, Maptitude, AutoCad Map, GeoMedia, etc.)
- data (files that may be
into the software
programs, such as roads, town boundaries, parcels, aerial photographs,
- staff (analysts,
The Web has a vast amount of
relating to GIS. For more general information on GIS you may want to
the following sites:
Commonwealth's Office of Geographic Information,
within the Information Technology Division (ITD) of the Administration
and Finance Secretariat (see crediting MassGIS).
Commonwealth has created a comprehensive, statewide database of
information. The state
legislature has established MassGIS as the official state agency
assigned to the collection, storage and dissemination of geographic
data. In addition, the legislative mandate
includes coordinating GIS activity within the Commonwealth and setting standards for geographic data to ensure
universal compatibility. MassGIS
has implemented several ways of coordinating GIS activity in the
Commonwealth. MassGIS staff are advised by the Massachusetts
Geographic Information Council (MGIC).
MGIC includes representatives from federal, state, regional, and local
government agencies, GIS consultants, utilities, non-profit
organizations, and academia.
Within state agencies, besides
formal inter-agency projects and on-going staff-level collaboration,
MassGIS facilitates coordination between state agency GIS efforts
through the Commonwealth GIS User Group (CommGIS). CommGIS meets
three times a year in October, February, and June. If you are a
state agency employee and want to receive email announcements
concerning these meetings, please send email to Paul Nutting
(paul.nutting @ state.ma.us) at MassGIS. MassGIS' Director also
sits on the Statewide Mapping Advisory Committee, a group that advises
the State Geologist on geologic mapping needs. The State
Geologist is also a member of the MGIC.
MassGIS staff collaborate
with Regional Planning Agency GIS staff
on many types of projects. MassGIS also tracks the status of
municipal GIS development and, as needed, communicates and coordinates
with municipal GIS staff. Finally, the state's Operational
Services Division (OSD) works closely with MassGIS staff on GIS related
procurements. MassGIS led the procurement team that resulted in
the current (2006) state blanket contract
for ESRI GIS software and services; with funding from ITD, MassGIS also
developed and implemented the e-Gov "shared service" for on-line
mapping on Commonwealth web-sites.
evolution of geographic information systems in the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts is not unlike its development in other states. A lead
agency, in this case the Executive
Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), perceived an
opportunity to meet its goals through development of a statewide GIS.
Three related feasibility studies were funded, a plan for development
was negotiated with EOEEA's agencies, and that plan was implemented
over a five year period, creating the Massachusetts Geographic
Information System - MassGIS - in the late 1980s. As a result, EOEEA
has become a leading provider of digital geographic information within
the Commonwealth and among Massachusetts public agencies using
geographic information technology.
In 2010, a Task Force composed of a
variety of stakeholders was convened to determine the future of
MassGIS. Organizational, governance, and funding issues were all
studied to determine the best way to sustain MassGIS' critical mission.
Given its evolution from working entirely on environmental themed
projects to having a hand in Public Safety, Public Health, Education
and a host of other non-environmental agencies and projects, the
recommendation was made to move MassGIS from the Environmental
Secretariat to the Administration
and Finance Secretariat's Information
Technology Division in
MassGIS promotes and guides spatial data development,
supports GIS users throughout a variety of state agencies, departments
and offices, sets standards, supports the
Commonwealth's web mapping services,
coordinates GIS activity with other state and regional agencies, and
provides communities with assistance in GIS development. MassGIS
distributes data from its database to municipalities, schools,
non-profit programs, and the general public in the form of paper maps
and DVD products, as well as via free download from this web site.
For more information on MassGIS'
products and services, see the web page Services
Offered by MassGIS. For a list of contacts at MassGIS and other
state GIS agencies please see the web page Contacts/Where
to Turn for More Information.
When using MassGIS data on
maps or in digital applications, source credit should be stated as "Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS),
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Information Technology Division".