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Immediate Unity

In October 2007, I was appointed as Indiana’s first Geographic Information Officer with a statutory mission to facilitate the development, maintenance, and distribution of comprehensive statewide geographic data.  State statute also assigns two dozen or so responsibilities to the GIO which fall into five baskets: 1) coordinate GIS effort in Indiana with all levels of government, academia, and the private sector; 2) locate and integrate critical geospatial data around the state; 3) figure out how to create data sets that are needed but do not exist; 4) make sure that the data is widely and conveniently available; and 5) serve as the Geographic Information Officer for state government agencies.

Given this legislative directive, and understanding that SAVI is the nation’s largest spatially-enabled system of its type, it therefore makes perfect sense for the GIO to serve on SAVI’s board.  Beginning in 2008 as a board member, and more recently as vice chair, I help guide the efforts of the board and facilitate meetings in the absence of the chair.

As a GIS professional, I greatly appreciate what SAVI offers to its users.  The data are robust (there’s information about 2,000+ plus communities in Central Indiana) and have been collected and processed to work well in the creation of custom maps, graphs, and charts.  In addition, SAVI provides on-line tools to help me analyze the data in different ways, and the SAVI team is always available to provide additional training or even just answer a quick question if I need assistance.

I recently took a call from someone in the economic development sector who was looking for profiles for some Central Indiana neighborhoods.  While we were on the phone and in front of our computers, I was able to guide him to SAVI’s online tools to create several custom maps that contained exactly the information that he needed.

Finding and visualizing good data is a big win for the user and also for Indiana!  That makes SAVI an important resource for Central Indiana and is why the website link is in my favorites list.

Jim Sparks is the Indiana Geographic Information Officer. He has spent most of his career working with geospatial information. His experience has come through positions as construction surveyor, cartographer, parcel mapper, and consultant, and in capacities as technician, supervisor, team leader, project manager, and director. He also serves as Vice Chair on SAVI’s Advisory Board.

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