It’s not quite Google Maps, but Penticton’s new online mapping system is more valuable for investors and developers, and the city hopes to expand its capabilities for the community as well.
Earlier this month, the city launched WebMap, an online map based on geographic information system (GIS) data. Users can apply various layers of information to the maps based on their needs: city boundaries, street names, zoning, official community plan and hazard areas. For a given parcel, public data such as assessed value and land size is available.
Kirsten Wilkes, the city’s information technology manager, describes it as not so much an upgrade as rebuilding the entire system on a new platform.
“With this new one, we have only brought over a base map, initially. There is a lot of information on the old one that is outdated or we found no one is using,” she said. “It’s cleaner, it’s more modern looking and we also spent a lot of time and effort making sure it was as accurate as we could get it on a computer screen.”
Even though they started from scratch, Wilkes said they managed to bring the project in for $25,718.
Wilkes said the Penticton system was primarily used by the real estate community and others looking for land-based information, but the plans are to grow the new system.
“We are hoping to expand even beyond what was on the old MapGuide, as everyone called it, to have things like parks and trails,” said Wilkes. “Now that we have this base map, we have the ability to add things in the future like ‘show me all the playgrounds in Penticton, show me all the dog parks in Penticton’ that kind of fun stuff.”
WebMap replaces MapGuide, the city’s original online mapping system, which has been operating for more than a decade. The old system was falling behind newer ones in terms of capabilities and was inaccessible on many devices, including Apple Macintosh computers. Ironically, the old system’s inaccessibility demonstrated how much it was in demand.
“It was used heavily by the real estate community. We got a lot of complaints because a lot of realtors use Macs. And, of course, our old system was not available from a Mac. It was not conducive to their use,” say Wilkes, explaining that not only is the new system available to a wider range of devices, it is built on a standardized structure, making it easier to share data between, for example, Penticton and the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen.
Longtime map users will notice a significant difference in terms of the speed of loading and navigation and increased functionality. The new system can be used on all web browsers, and gives users additional functionality like bookmarking favourite maps and online “marking up” the map with text and shapes, measuring anything from properties to driveways.
Penticton’s WebMap can be viewed by visiting http://mapping.penticton.ca.