Encouraging Trail Access: Indiana’s New Limited Liability Law

Communities across the state are working to convert abandoned railway beds to trails as part of the national “rails-to-trails” movement and establishing other bike-walk linear parks and greenways. Beyond recreation and immediate health benefits, linear trails serve as important pedestrian and bike corridors through which people access schools, jobs, food, transit, and community centers. They can provide tree canopy and refuge for wildlife. They are a source of pride for communities, contribute to increased property values and quality of life.

Unfortunately, providing neighborhood access to those trails and greenways can be a challenge, particularly in communities where pre-established private property boundaries block access to trails. Several issues may need to be addressed to establish neighborhood trail access through private property, including available space, privacy, parking, improvements, maintenance, and landowner liability. Here we focus on the concern of landowner liability.

Liability Concerns

Concern and confusion over landowner liability provide a disincentive to establishing shared-use access points on or through private property. When private property owners consider granting recreational access through their property, the question of liability remains, “If I let people walk through my property and someone gets hurt, will I be liable?” Such concern can cause private landowners to delay or deny neighborhood access. As we build more trails around the country, enabling neighborhood access is anticipated to be a growing issue.

Limited liability laws can provide statutory protection for property owners who open their land to the public. They remove a significant disincentive to providing trail access on or through private property. Lowering barriers to access is critical for communities that are establishing rail-trails, greenways, parks, and similar areas used for recreational purposes. While it doesn’t solve all the issues of access, it is an important tool in the tool chest for encouraging and enabling trail access and use.

Indiana Limited Liability Legislation for Access to Trails, Parks and Greenways

Last week Indiana House Bill 1115, authored by Representatives Carey Hamilton and Wes Culver, passed the Indiana House and Senate unanymously; on Mar 9th, 2018, it was signed into law by the governor. The Bill limits the liability of landowners for recreational access to trails, parks, and greenways. Important: the Bill does not require landowners to provide access through their property to access a trail or greenway. Rather, it limits landowner liability if someone passes on or through their property for this purpose and is injured, similar to landowner immunity for other recreational purposes such as hunting and fishing.

Indiana already has limited landowner liability for hunting, fishing, and other recreational uses. HB 1115 includes access to rail-trails, parks, and greenways.

Nora and the Monon Trail

The Indianapolis northside suburb of Nora provides a case study for the impact of disconnected neighborhoods on trail access. Nora is the proud birthplace of the world-class Monon Trail & Greenway. Paved in 1999, a 3-mile section of the trail runs north to 96th Street and south to the White River (the trail extends for several miles in both directions beyond Nora). It traverses the edges of suburban neighborhoods, the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, nearby schools, and busy Nora Center.

Private property abuts the trail (green); properties in adjacent neighborhoods (orange) lack access unless provided through private property.

As is typical with suburban communities, many of Nora’s neighborhoods are disconnected from each other, and from a traditional urban street grid and pedestrian network. When neighborhoods exist before trail development, pre-established private property boundaries make access to trails/bikeways/greenways/other recreation challenging to retrofit.

Nearly all of Nora’s single-family residential neighborhoods adjacent to the Monon Trail lack formally established public access (approximately 560 households). In these neighborhoods, trail access occurs on or through private property, or not at all. Families might live within spitting distance, but have to drive to trailheads to get access.

Nora neighbor, Susan Wever, shares these concerns, “The edge of my property has become the entrance point for my entire subdivision and for residents of other nearby neighborhoods and apartment complexes. Dozens of people walk through my property every day to access the Monon Trail. If unable to access the Trail from my property my neighbors would have to walk (or drive!) a mile or so, along a fast and busy road that lacks a sidewalk, to get to an official trailhead.” Passage of HB1115 gives Susan peace of mind that she can continue to allow access without exposing herself and her family to unnecessary risk.

The Monon Trail is Nora’s primary pedestrian corridor. Landowner liability is a concern the Nora Alliance is working to alleviate because enabling trail access is a key component to connecting people to nature, recreation, schools, transit, food, jobs, and public services in Nora Center.

Similar State Legislation

Similar state legislation to promote recreational use of land and water are highlighted below.

Pennsylvania Recreational Use of Land and Water Act

Pennsylvania’s Recreational Use of Land and Water Act provides statutory protection for property owners who open their land to the public. The Act limits the liability, resulting from personal injury or property damage, of landowners who make their land available to the public for recreation free of charge. The purpose of the law is to encourage landowners to allow hikers, fishermen, and other recreational users onto their properties by limiting the traditional duty of care that landowners owe to entrants upon their land. So long as no entrance or use fee is charged, the Act provides that landowners do not have to keep their land safe for recreational users and have no duty to warn of dangerous conditions. This immunity from liability does not protect landowners who willfully or maliciously fail to warn of dangerous conditions. Here is a summary of the law and thoughts on how it could be strengthened:
http://conservationtools.org/guides/81-Recreational-Use-of-Land-and-Water-Act

Washington State Beach Access

Although it does not specifically address private property limited liability, cities, and counties in Washington State are required to develop Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs) that regulate development within areas near marine and freshwater shorelines. These SMPs must contain “a public access element making provisions for public access to publicly owned areas.” The WCZMP addresses public access through the local government public access plans required for SMPs, by developing and providing easily accessible information on existing public access to shoreline planners and the public. The Coastal Program also works with state agencies, local governments, and nonprofits to increase public access through land acquisition.
http://www.beachapedia.org/State_of_the_Beach/State_Reports/WA/Beach_Access

Maine Landowner Liability for Recreational Activity

Maine has a strong landowner liability law which protects landowners from suits by people who get hurt on their land while they are engaged in some recreational activity. The landowner is protected whether or not permission is given to using the land (Maine Revised Statutes Section 59a). This protection removes a strong motive for landowners to forbid people to use their land.
http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/accessing-private-land/landowner-liability.html

California Rights and Obligations of Owners

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property, whether possessory or nonpossessory, owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for any recreational purpose or to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on those premises to persons entering for a recreational purpose, except as provided in this section.
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=846

 

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EDIT  3/12/18: post updated to reflect signature by governor

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Ortelius Map Design Software for MacOS

Mapdiva was founded in 2008 by Graham P. Cox and Jill Saligoe-Simmel to empower people to design custom maps using extraordinary cartography tools on their Mac.

We were frustrated by a lack of software to make custom maps without requiring you build a database first.  We knew there had to be a better way.  So with a focus on the user, we created Ortelius (named after the 16th-century cartographer, Abraham Ortelius).  Ortelius is unique cartography software that meets the mapping needs of graphic designers, savvy public, historians, project managers, researchers, and people like you.

Ortelius is a unique professional creativity app that’s a hybrid between a vector drawing program and a geographic information system (though Ortelius is decidedly not GIS).

Ortelius adds tailored functionality for map design, such as connectable track tools, powerful style engine, library of expert styles & map symbols, and robust templates. If you’ve ever tried making a map in a standard drawing program, you know how tedious it can be. Or, perhaps you’ve lamented how difficult it is to make quality map graphics in a GIS.

Ortelius automates many of the tedious tasks in manual cartography with a clear eye towards high-quality graphics, so you can focus your creative energy on content and design.

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Mapdiva also makes Artboard® the vector drawing software to create crisp vector graphics, logos, icons and illustrations. Artboard features “smart” objects, direct select tool, a powerful style generator and stacked styles that go way beyond simple fill and stroke, providing a wide range of spectacular effects. It delivers with over 1900 styles and clipart include a wide assortment of maps, shapes, color swatches, pictographics, floor plan, and flowchart graphics. Exclusively for macOS.

Indy’s Most Needed Pedestrian Walkways

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Walkable cities contribute to people’s overall health, safety, and quality of life. This study prioritizes missing pedestrian walkways to help identify where investment should be focused in Indianapolis.

Although it has some very walkable areas of town, overall Indy ranks low in nationwide surveys of walkability (Walkscore.com). Recent efforts are underway in Indianapolis to enhance walkability, as demonstrated by its recently adopted Complete Streets Ordinance and the Health By Design et.al. Indy WalkWays initiative. A large land area and limited budget require the City find tools and strategies to efficiently and effectively develop and maintain its infrastructure. This includes finding ways to prioritize the types of pedestrian infrastructure needed to enhance walkability, and the location of that infrastructure.

The map shows the results from a study of Indy’s missing pedestrian infrastructure (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use paths). It reveals the gaps in pedestrian walkways and prioritizes them based on proximity to destinations, population density, and demographic factors that may contribute to an area’s particular transit needs.

Three basic assumptions are followed:

  1. You don’t have walkability without destinations.
  2. Walkways should go where people are (i.e., population density).
  3. Certain social factors, such as age, income and education, may limit people’s transportation options thus making walkways a higher need (and that need should be a factor in prioritizing pedestrian infrastructure).

High ranking walkway segments (red and orange) would be considered among Indy’s most needed walkways.

About the Map

“Missing Walkways” are shown as lines on the map where there are gaps in the existing pedestrian network. These are mapped along primary and secondary arterial roads, and collector streets hosting major bus routes, using 2014 data of Indianapolis’ existing pedestrian network* as a reference. The missing walkway segments are ranked and color-coded low (yellow) to high (red) based on their proximity to destinations combined with proximity to areas of highest population density and concentration of people who may have limited transportation options (Net Social Index). For example, segments shown in red (high priority) touch areas containing both high net population density and high scores for social indicators representing potential pedestrian infrastructure need, such as income, minority status, education, linguistic isolation, and age (2010 Census; 2013 ACS).

Missing walkway segments received scores for their proximity to 5- or 10-minute walk radius around destinations. Destinations include public libraries, college campuses, primary schools, secondary schools, vocational schools, museums, supermarkets, recreation facilities, greenways, parks, future Red Line bus rapid transit (BRT) stops, and city bus stops.

The scores for each segment are tallied and the results are used to rank the missing walkway segments from low to high in terms of their priority for future development. High ranking walkway segments (red and orange) would be considered among Indy’s most needed walkways.

Limitations

The map of “Missing Walkways” does not distinguish places where sidewalks may exist along only one side of a road, or where existing sidewalks may switch back and forth between different side of the road, nor the quality of existing sidewalks. It also does not evaluate the existence of crosswalks (another essential component to the pedestrian infrastructure). The data are not field verified. Sidewalks within neighborhood subdivisions and along minor collector streets are not considered by this study.

For Further Study

This study shows one way that pedestrian infrastructure gaps can be prioritized for future investment, which is just one aspect of pedestrian infrastructure planning and management. Further areas of interest include: Where are crosswalks and what is their importance in the pedestrian network? What is the role of speed limit control in designing the pedestrian network? What additional prioritization should be considered for Safe Routes to Schools initiatives? How do accident reports factor into identifying priorities? Should we rate short segments of missing walkways higher where pedestrian infrastructure otherwise exists (e.g., prioritizing small gaps)? Where are we investing today versus where priorities have been identified? How do we balance the maintenance of existing infrastructure with the development of new pedestrian infrastructure?

Data Sources

City of Indianapolis GIS; IndianaMap; Indiana Department of Education; Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) Property Tax Management System; The Polis Center; US Census American Community Survey 2013 5-year Estimates; 2010 Census; 2015 Federal Poverty Level; US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EJ SCREEN.

* Special thanks to Kevin Kastner for providing the pedestrian network GIS data used in this study and for posting on Urban Indy. See Prioritizing Missing Pedestrian Infrastructure, Saligoe-Simmel (PDF) for detailed methodology and documentation of data used in the study.
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National GIS Inventory

The GIS Inventory is a system maintained by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) as a tool for the entire GIS Community. It allows users to quickly search for GIS data to meet their business requirements. It also helps government agencies to effectively coordinate and build Spatial Data Infrastructures.

Its primary purpose is to track data availability and the status of geographic information system (GIS) implementation in state and local governments to aid the planning and building of statewide spatial data infrastructures (SSDI). The system moves its FGDC-compliant metadata (CSDGM Standard) for each data layer to a web folder and a Catalog Service for the Web (CSW) that can be harvested by Federal programs and others. This provides far greater opportunities for discovery of your information.

The GIS Inventory (a.k.a. “Ramona”) was originally created in 2006 by NSGIC under award NA04NOS4730011 from the Coastal Services Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The Department of Homeland Security has been the principal funding source since 2008 and they have supported the development of subsequent versions. Currently, funding is being provided through DHS contract HSHQDC-12-00104. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have provided additional resources to maintain and improve the GIS Inventory.

The GIS Inventory is maintained by individual users that document their own organizational information and data holdings. The National Cadastral Inventory is maintained by key cadastral contacts in each state to support their unique business requirements. The long-term goal is to merge both systems to provide even better services and features for their users.

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As a former Board Member of the National States Geographic Information Council, Jill Saligoe-Simmel helped conceptualize this nationwide project and secure initial grant funding. Project design, requirements assessment and management at various stages by BurGIS LLC, Saligoe-Simmel LLC, A.J. Wortley and Fairview Industries. Jill continues to provide technical assistance to the project. GIS Inventory website, system, and database design by RunSkip, LLC.

Natural Earth Data: Worldwide GIS Maps

If you’ve ever tried to find good, authoritative sources of free, public domain small-scale world map data you know it can be a daunting task. But not for long.

Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. Featuring tightly integrated vector and raster data, with Natural Earth you can make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with cartography or GIS software. It is a boon for geographers, cartographers, and GIS folks working from regional to world scales (small scale). I’ll predict it will also have tremendous impact in the geography education arena, where it is much needed.

This dataset allows you to make beautiful and authoritative political and physical world maps quickly – from the large wall map variety down to postcard size. Instead of spending time looking for data, you will be able to focus on using the map to tell your geographic story. You are able to map at the continent and country levels (including showing provinces and some local cities, regional, and “world” cities).

Tom Patterson and Nathaniel Kelso collaborated on the precursor to his first Natural Earth Raster project several years ago and they now preview Natural Earth Raster + Vector, a new free product that complements and expands on the previous work by providing detailed GIS linework at the 1:15,000,000 (1:15 million) scale and new versions of the raster product (including cross-blended hyspometric tints). The project was unveiled at the 2009 North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) annual meeting on October 7th.

From “First Look at Natural Earth Vector.” This is a NACIS and mapgiving co-branded product with assistance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison cartography lab, Florida State University, and others. You can read more updates on the project at Kelso’s Corner.

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Making Natural Earth is a collaboration involving many volunteer NACIS members and cartographers around the globe. Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Mapdiva LLC, volunteered her time as a Research + Production Cartographer collaborating with the team managing the first release of worldwide country administrative units.

A Call for an Open Spatial Data Infrastructure

 

Today I’m getting on my soapbox. I’ve long been a vocal advocate of open public data in the geospatial arena. The “open” provides us all the opportunity to build shared spatial data infrastructures so critical to addressing public, private, and broader societal needs. I’m concerned that even with the most open of data, we may yet be compounding essential problems regarding a critical goal of spatial data infrastructures: authoritative and consistent data. Consistency is key.

For example, in Jonathan Feldman’s recent article “How To Fix The GIS Data Mess,” he pleads for consistent data shared among all potential users. In my own experience, beyond accuracy and unfettered access to geospatial data, consistency of those data among users is critical. When agencies and organizations rely on geospatial data for critical decision making and those data differ, the decisions based on those data will necessarily be different, notwithstanding the best intentions.

Are emergency responders and non-profit agencies looking at different authoritative data sources to deploy rescue efforts to save your pets and family members? Are construction crews, development companies, city officials, and recreational groups looking at different data sources when trails are cleared for a building project? Data consistency is vital – for public safety and for the public interest. Consistent data (and implied shared maintenance) is key to helping make consistent decisions and controlling costs.

I am a big fan of efforts such as Open Street Map (OSM) in democratizing geospatial data. OSM is an effort to be applauded. Clearly, its sweeping early successes, particularly in areas of the world where geospatial data are less public than the US, demonstrates that people are ready and eager to create and support open data sources. I am myself. But I lend a word of caution as well… What do we do when other authoritative data that are open already exist? How do we determine which is THE authoritative? How do we share maintenance? These questions remain largely unanswered.

Members of the National States’ Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) are working with public and private organizations at all levels to address these very questions.

In Indiana for example, the community is working together to overcome institutional obstacles and build a statewide spatial data infrastructure that is open and consistent (see the Indiana Geographic Information Council). Local agencies are providing data publicly, such as street centerlines and parcel boundaries, and the state is integrating and publishing rather than duplicating those efforts. The State is contributing as well, not only through coordination and infrastructure but also with statewide data sets such as aerial photography that make sense to maintain at broader coverage. And the effort doesn’t stop there. With university participation, those data are made public (view and download) through the IndianaMap. They are provided to federal agencies, such as U.S. Census for map modernization. In recognition that not everyone comes to government sources for their decision-making, statewide aerial photography (2005) was shipped to Google and Microsoft to integrate into their map services.

Such a model holds out a glimmer of hope that statewide, national, and international spatial data infrastructures are not only possible but also within reach. However, even with such open data, when the process is ill-defined and under-funded we may miss the target. How, for instance, will the IndianaMap data be incorporated into other open source efforts the likes of OSM? With a desire by all parties, how might maintenance be addressed? These questions remain unanswered.

We must continue to strive for solutions which focus on process. Consistent data are vital if geospatial data are used to solve problems at the most local to the most global of scales. While “any data” may be better than no data at all, the preponderance of inconsistent data may be our industry’s Achilles heel. There are inherent problems when local data (cities and counties) differ from state data, differ from federal, private, non-profit, and open data. That is why a National Spatial Data Infrastructure is necessary.

 

Communicating Value of GIS to Policy-Makers

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When faced with communicating the value of the IndianaMap and the need for established funding, we didn’t want to create another report sitting in a binder on someone’s shelf.

In 2006, the IndianaMap Return on Investment (RIO) Study proved the value of the IndianaMap as an investment in Indiana. The challenge was, how best to communicate those results? The report was presented in an unconventional “newspaper” format directed at the target audience – primarily legislators and other elected officials. The format provided the advantages of attention-grabbing headlines; topical organization (for example, transportation, economic development, and environment), and photo-documented case studies. The paper was printed on full-sized news-stock and folded like a traditional newspaper, with room for a mailing address on the reverse 1/2 fold.

Here’s how we communicated that value:
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The ROI analysis identified current GIS spending, duplication of effort, needs, benefits, financial and non-financial return. The objective of the project was to substantiate adequate funding (or establish cost-sharing mechanisms) to support and enable the operation. The results of the ROI demonstrate that over $1.7 billion in Indiana projects and programs are supported by the IndianaMap, with 90% of respondents indicating that the IndianaMap was essential to their project. A 34:1 ROI in less than three years was documented. The entire study was supplemented by additional qualitative use-benefits, testimonials, and case studies.

The Economic Benefits of the IndianaMap return on investment study was conducted by Saligoe-Simmel, LLC and the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC). The study was supported by a grant from the Federal Geographic Data Committee Cooperative Agreements Program Grant Agreement Number: 07HQAG0042. Download the PDF.

Designed & Illustrated by Matt Kelm
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Aerial photo downtown Indianapolis Circle

Indiana Statewide Orthophotography Program

In 2005, Indiana introduced an ambitious Statewide Orthophotography Program provided a “common operating picture” through a seamless, current, accurate photographic base and control network that “ties” all other framework (base map) and critical infrastructure GIS data sets together. It was the foundation of today’s IndianaMap – a statewide, seamless, highly accurate, locally built and publicly available geographic data infrastructure.

Problem: For homeland security, GIS data need to be accurate, seamless statewide, current, and accessible.
  • The scale of the data must meet the demands of its most demanding users – local government.
  • The Access to Public Records law exception for GIS data presents significant challenges for getting and compiling local GIS data.
  • Differing local government business models present severe challenges for getting and compiling local GIS data.
  • High accuracies are required to support mapping of other framework and critical infrastructure data.
  • A lack of standards, consistency and lack of interoperability present significant technical limitations to integrating disparate data sets to gain seamlessness.
Solution

The 2005 Statewide Orthophotography Project modernized a critical component of the state’s information infrastructure through a high accuracy base map that is seamless statewide, current, and accessible.

The project supports the strategy of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (http://www.fgdc.gov/nsdi/nsdi.html). The same framework data are available to cross-cutting applications (homeland security, emergency management, economic development, environmental, e-911, Flood Insurance Rate Map modernization, Census data modernization, GASB-34, etc.).

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Jill Saligoe-Simmel provided overall project design and management from conceptualization through delivery.

  • conceptualized and developed detailed program to support the Indiana Spatial Data Infrastructure and requirements of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security
  • maintained commitments as open public domain imagery, while meeting homeland security requirements
  • garnered community and partner support
  • secured cooperative local, state and federal investment of over $5.5 million for project implementation
  • outreach to funders and policy makers through written and oral presentations
  • provided regular communications with a community of over 350 stakeholders, including local, regional, state and federal government, private sector, universities, utilities, and non-profits through email, website, newsletters, presentations and group meetings
  • recruited and coordinated expert technical advisory team to develop specifications and write the request for proposal (RFP)
  • coordinated expert advisory panel / selection committee
  • reviewed and approved contractor work and deliverables in partnership with IMAGIS Program Director, Jim Stout
  • coordinated the “buy-up” to higher resolution data by individual county emergency management directors
  • coordinated team of experts through Indiana University and Purdue University to support mass data storage archival services and public data delivery, including integration through the IndianaMap portal
  • negotiated inclusion and delivery of the IndianaMap as authoritative imagery in GoogleMaps and Microsoft TeraServer

Ortelius Map Design Software for Mac: We’ve Launched!

A big thank-you to all of our testers and reviewers – we’ve made it! Check out our new web site for all the details on Ortelius, including a downloadable trial version. We’ll continue to add tips & tricks and screencasts to our web site to maintain it not only as our product site, but also as a rich educational resource for map making. To celebrate, we are offering an introductory special of $79 until September 30th. Development continues and we’d love to hear from you.

SDI Return on Investment: The Economic Benefits of the IndianaMap

From transportation to public safety to economic development, the IndianaMap supports hundreds of local, regional and statewide projects each year. The IndianaMap was used for response and recovery during this year’s major flooding, tornado, and earthquake events, Honda’s selection of Indiana for its new facility, and much more.

$1.7 Billion Supported by the IndianaMap

Stories documenting how the IndianaMap is used are presented throughout this report, IndianaMap Return on Investment. Phase one of the IndianaMap is complete and the results are in—the initial investment of $8.5 million in the IndianaMap supports over 200-times its value in projects and operations—with 90% of users indicating they could not do their projects without it. As is evident from this study, the IndianaMap proves a good investment by saving taxpayer dollars and providing an information infrastructure that benefits all Hoosiers.

86% indicated that IndianaMap orthophotography was essential to their operations.

Still there are many challenges to completing and maintaining the IndianaMap. Conflicting interpretations of the meaning of “electronic map” as set forth in Indiana Code 5-14-3-2(d) and confusion surrounding the validity of copyrighting factual data result in inconsistent access to electronic map data. Non-standard maps present technical obstacles to data integration. The importance of multi-jurisdictional data providers (local, region, state and federal) is not well recognized. But perhaps most significantly, Indiana’s Legislature has not allocated funding specifically for support and maintenance of the IndianaMap. To help address these issues and justify future financing of the IndianaMap, IGIC answers the question “What are the economic and use-benefits of the IndianaMap?” ‘Economic value’ is taken to mean the contribution that the IndianaMap makes to Indiana’s economy as a provider of geographic information.

untitled-image-3Like roads and bridges, the IndianaMap is part of a public infrastructure that is a longterm investment in Indiana’s future. There are hundreds, potentially thousands of IndianaMap users. Truly a public good, anyone can access it, anonymously, through a web viewer (e.g., www.indianamap.org and www.maps.google.com), through data download websites, off-line at public libraries, and other public access points. Because the users are widespread, it is difficult to estimate the total user base. All Hoosiers benefit through the money it saves taxpayers, as well as improved quality of life through better-managed resources, transportation, and business. For this study, input was sought from a known user base (those who are registered with the IndianaMap download sites and email distribution lists) through an appropriately designed questionnaire with the following objectives:

  • Discover what types of projects are utilizing the IndianaMap.
  • Identify the priority placed on the different types of IndianaMap framework data by the users.
  • Assess the importance of the IndianaMap in projects and operations by the users.
  • Determine how the IndianaMap contributes to the quality and cost of the user’s work.
  • Estimate the dollar value of the IndianaMap to end users.

The results of the survey clearly indicate that over $1.7 billion in Indiana projects and government operations are supported by the IndianaMap. Meeting these objectives will help plan for future mapping projects and assess the IndianaMap in qualitative as well as monetary terms.

METHODOLOGY

The questionnaire had nine questions implemented through an online survey tool. The response rate to the survey was encouraging and exceeded commonly accepted response rates in marketing surveys. For the purposes of this study we make an estimation of total users based on a sample of 1521 registered users on the University Information Technology Services at Indiana University’s download site for the IndianaMap Orthophotography. These users download and use IndianaMap data on their own systems. They include government regulators, engineers, utilities, realtors, appraisers, mining companies, researchers, planning officials, and teachers. Three hundred fourteen (314) responses were received from May to July of 2008. This is a 20% response rate (approximately +/- 6% margin of error3) and is nearly four times the rate considered acceptable” (Van Bennekom, F. (2003) www.greatbrook.com) in the marketing industry.

Because the IndianaMap has many different users, as well as emerging and unknown new uses and repeated uses over time, placing a quantitative valuation on it is an extremely complex problem. Our approach is similar to that taken by mineral economists’ Bhagwat and Ipe (Bhagwat, S.B., and Ipe, V.C. 2000. The economic benefits of detailed geologic mapping to Kentucky. Illinois State Geological Survey Special Report 3, 39 p.) in their pioneering report “Economic Benefits of Detailed Geologic Mapping to Kentucky.” Their approach is a retrospective study to first estimate the value to an individual map user and then to extend that value to all the possible map users over time to get an estimate of the aggregate benefits of a mapping program. This approach is applicable to the IndianaMap as we can conduct a retrospective study based on currently available maps and the 2005 Statewide Orthophotography Project. Slightly modifying Bhagwat and Ipe’s method to our purpose, we developed a study of the economic benefits of the IndianaMap to demonstrate the value of statewide map data, period of return, and a positive business case for funding the ongoing creation and maintenance of statewide framework data.

First, input was sought on the total costs of projects and/or operations that are supported by the IndianaMap. Of 314 responses, 69% (216 responses) provided information on the total cost of their projects and/or operations. Of those responses, some indicated a range in the cost of projects and operations. To maintain a conservative perspective, we consistently used the lesser values in cases where a range in costs The IndianaMap was indicated. Many of those not responding indicated that total costs were difficult for them to estimate. The respondents identify $1,751,000,145 in Indiana projects and government operations that are supported by the IndianaMap. In addition, of those providing project cost information, 90% indicated that IndianaMap orthophotography was essential to their operations (defined as “project requires high resolution/accuracy data, maybe supplemented with other data; couldn’t do project without it”) and 6% indicated orthophotography was of secondary necessity (defined as “project requires other data that depend on high resolution/ accuracy imagery to create, align, verify, and/or maintain those data”). These projects range from statewide to discrete area projects.

CONCLUSION

The results of the survey clearly indicate that over $1.7 billion in Indiana projects and government operations are supported by the IndianaMap. In short, this means that an initial investment of $8.5 million in the IndianaMap supports over 200-times its value in projects and operations—with 90% of users indicating they could not do their projects without it.

The IndianaMap is by definition a public good— those goods that, once they have been produced, are available to all, without exclusion. While the IndianaMap has many of the characteristics of a resource, a commodity, a capital asset andinfrastructure, it does not fit neatly into any of these categories. The difficulty in assigning a particular role to the IndianaMap reflects, to a large extent, the diffuse, and hence extensive, impact that it has on the economy. The gains from the IndianaMap can be categorized into three types:

  • Increases in efficiency, so that the same task can be performed with fewer, often significantly fewer, resources.
  • Increases in effectiveness, so that the same task can be performed with greater accuracy and fewer mistakes.
  • New products and services, which could not have been produced without this new
    technology.

These tangible, measurable, economic impacts only partially reflect the contribution of the IndianaMap. Consideration must also be given to the social gains resulting from the use of the IndianaMap products. Such an analysis is, by its very nature, largely of a qualitative nature, but it is important to ensure that the monetary estimate deduced in this study does not detract the reader from the wider importance of the IndianaMap.

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The Economic Benefits of the IndianaMap return on investment study was conducted by Saligoe-Simmel, LLC and the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC). The study was supported by a grant from the Federal Geographic Data Committee Cooperative Agreements Program Grant Agreement Number: 07HQAG0042.