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KCGIS User Group

KCGIS User Group

Next Meeting: August 2, 2023

August meeting cancelled

June 2023

June meeting cancelled

April 2023

April meeting cancelled

February 2023

East Pierce County Interlocal Coalition (EPIC) Hub Site

Bill Keller, King County GIS Center

Learn how east Pierce County provides situational awareness for emergency response and creates comprehensive GIS tools to meet the demands of the modern emergency management environment using Esri’s ArcGIS Online suite. In 2021 the East Pierce County Interlocal Coalition (EPIC) was formed to coordinate and assist the region with operational planning, functionality, and training for evacuation, mass care and sheltering. To better serve the EPIC area of responsibility, a website was created using the Esri Hub platform. This website serves as a nexus point for both the public and internal employees. The EPIC website also allows authorized individuals to update emergency management-related events for their community using the Rapid Response app. The Rapid Response app also integrates with a publicly accessible Experience Builder dashboard that updates instantly.

December 2022

Getting creative in government: an outside-the-box GIS solution supports high-quality customer service

Shari Cross, Patrick Sowers, Monica Van der Vieren, and Kelly Foley Kruse, King County Wastewater Treatment Division

Learn how a small team in King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) solved a big customer service problem with an innovative GIS solution.
WTD serves 1.7 million customers in the Puget Sound area. High-quality customer service depends upon tracking contacts and interactions. WTD needed to replace a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to protect data and maintain service. With limited funding and time, the team leveraged available tools, including ArcGIS Hub, to develop a GIS solution that exceeds previous CRM functionality and allows integration with other agency software.

October 2022

Efficiently Produced Maps for Metro Snow Reroutes

Josh Popelka, GIS Analyst, KCGIS Center, King County Information Technology

When winter weather hits, King County Metro keeps buses running by rerouting off of steep hills and congested areas using predetermined snow routes. The King County GIS Center partners with Metro Transit staff to deliver clear and concise reroute maps that communicate those changes to the operators. Every year, there are changes to these reroutes due to construction or regular route changes. By automating most of the map production process using Model Builder in ArcGIS Pro and by using definition queries across multiple layouts, we are able to provide dozens (sometimes hundreds) of customized and clearly legible maps quickly to our customers at Metro Transit. This process saves valuable staff time and resources while significantly reducing the project cost for Metro. We’ll walk through the model and provide some helpful Model Builder tips and talk about some of the challenges of automating map production.

August 2022

no meeting this month

June 2022

Road Asset Editor (Rae-Rae)

Harkeerat Kang, GIS Analyst and Thomas Ryan, Applications Developer, King County Information Technology

Road Asset Editor, informally dubbed "Rae-Rae," is a custom application which is being built for King County Road Services to replace a custom Silverlight GIS application. The application will be used to manage assets maintained by Road Services, from signs on the poles to traffic cameras to ADA ramps. Thomas Ryan and Harkeerat Kang will discuss the efforts required and technologies used in this in-progress project to build the new application.

April 2022

no meeting this month

February 2022  

Office cube reservations via ArcGIS Indoors

Michael Jenkins, Solution Architect, King County Information Technology

To support the hybrid work model, King County has launched a cubicle reservation system using ArcGIS Indoors. Learn what it took to map two King County office buildings and integrate with Microsoft 365 to implement an office cube reservation system. Michael will do a short demo of the Indoor Viewer application.

Seattle City Council Redistricting

Dennis Higgins, GIS Spatial Services Manager, King County GIS Center

The King County GIS Center has been selected as the Districting GIS Consultant by the Seattle Redistricting Commission to assist in creating new City Council lines that will be based on the 2020 Census. Dennis will cover the background, timeline and process for this project.

Using GeoPackages for local geospatial analysis with OGR and SQL

Fred Lott, Senior GIS Specialist, King County GIS Center

Shapefiles have a number of disadvantages, but are still convenient for small, shareable analyses. GeoPackages have gained traction as a viable replacement, and have several notable advantages in their ability to leverage SQL and Spatialite for analysis. Fred will do an informal walkthrough of how these open source formats and tools can be leveraged to automate a demographic analysis for a project. He’ll also share two essential tricks for efficient spatial queries on GeoPackages. No ArcGIS required!

December 2021

no meeting this month

October 2021  

New wayfinding maps to help Link light rail riders complete their journeys

Patrick Jankanish, Senior Cartographer, King County GIS Center

On Saturday, October 2, Sound Transit's Link light rail system leapt forward with three new stations that extend the 1 Line to key neighborhood centers in north Seattle. King County Metro Transit has provided riders at all four stations north of the Lake Washington Ship Canal—University of Washington, and the new U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate stations—with on-site map guides to the full set of bus options which radiate from the stations throughout the surrounding transit service areas. King County GIS Center Spatial Services consulted with Metro to realize Metro's vision for this brand-new series of transit-oriented wayfinding maps. Patrick will illustrate the GIS, cartographic, and graphic design and production processes which use visual clarity and spatial integrity to provide riders the information they need to readily make Link/bus trip connections.

See Buses from Here StoryMap

Data and tools for PSERN’s coverage testing

Fred Lott, Senior GIS Specialist, King County GIS Center

The Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (PSERN) is in the midst of updating and modernizing King County’s emergency radio system infrastructure. As part of that, they need to do extensive testing and validation of network coverage. King County GIS Center Spatial Services helped with this process by preparing data and tools for the testing team. What do you do when spatial data is only available as PDFs? How do you automate the processing of GPS traces from a third-party app to get them onto ArcGIS Online? Fred will go over some of these challenges and how they fit into a group of applications used to review 6,000 testing locations.

August 2021

The Future of Work at King County

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, King County employees were under a mandatory telecommuting order. Now we are transitioning to a new normal where many King County departments will have employees working remotely most of the time. GIS web applications are being developed to assist employees, service specialists, and managers in getting access to the resources they need to successfully work from home.

DNRP Reservation Resource
Patrick Sowers – GIS Specialist, King County Wastewater Treatment Division

The DNRP Reservation Resource application supports the new Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) hybrid work model by displaying where work spaces are located across the region and information about those spaces. It also includes a reservation process. DNRP work spaces were identified across King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties and include a diverse variety of facility types, such as park shelters and conference rooms. The application was developed in King County’s ArcGIS Enterprise portal to provide easy, secure access to King County employees. It was created using Esri’s configurable ArcGIS Dashboard product which allowed for the inclusion of attribute filters and interactive components.

Customer Support Services Tech Center Application
Josh Popelka – GIS Specialist, King County GIS Center

The Customer Support Services Tech Center application assists in suitability analysis for placing King County Information Technology (KCIT) tech centers around the county. These tech centers will offer on-site support for remote employees and enable them to receive services typically available only in downtown Seattle. By combining available parcel, building, and address data, and generalizing employee data by ZIP Code, insights are gained into where to place each tech center. The goal is to maximize the impact of each location and get an idea of how many employees could potentially be served in 15, 20, 25, and 30-minute drive times. This application is deployed in King County's ArcGIS Enterprise portal so KCIT planners have secure access. When the final locations of the tech centers are identified, employees will save time and work more efficiently from home by enabling them to access the KCIT services closest to them.

June 2021 

King County Council District Redistricting Process

Rebeccah Maskin – Demographic Planner, King County Executive Office
Dennis Higgins – Spatial Services Manager, King County GIS Center

The 2020 Census is complete! What are the next steps for King County? The County has created the 2021 Districting Committee to redraw King County Council Districts using the new Census data. By law, district boundaries must be realigned every 10 years to reflect changes in population distribution. Rebeccah will present King County demographic trends that the Districting Committee will use to prepare for their work. Dennis will explain how the King County GIS Center will be involved in supporting the committee in their work. For more information, please see the Districting Committee webpage.

April 2021

Automating map folio production with ArcPy in ArcGIS Pro
Fred Lott, King County GIS Center

King County's Department of Natural Resources and Parks Shore Friendly team needs to generate a set of 14 maps for a parcel depicting different environmental scenarios before meeting with a property owner. This was previously a time- and labor-intensive task for staff, but no more! Fred will discuss what's new with mapping automation in ArcGIS Pro and, his process for setting up the mapping script in Python, and how to turn it all into a user-friendly script tool.

Fred's slide presentation

ArcGIS Workforce integration with other mobile apps
Harkeerat Kang, King County IT Product Engineering

ArcGIS Workforce is a mobile app which is used to complete field assignments. A new version of Workforce with important new capabilities and some simplifications was released last year. Methods for integrating Workforce with other native apps changed. Harkeerat will discuss integration and intricacies of the newer version.

Harkeerat's slide presentation

February 2021 

GIS Potpourri 5

King County Staff

New Road Services Capital Improvement Project (CIP) data & public web application
Josh Popelka, King County GIS Center

King County Road Services Division and KCIT staff created new CIP feature classes to provide an authoritative data source for the division’s capital improvement program. The data utilizes existing and familiar internal mapping workflows and combines location data with attribution from project management software via a nightly process. The final products from this process are two feature classes, one for internal use with detailed project management and financial data, and one for public consumption which includes basic project information. The public-facing data drives the new Roads CIP web application which is embedded into the new Roads CIP webpage and will provide the public with a reliable, automated resource for capital project information.

Josh's slide presentation

Using an Esri Hub community organization and initiative for project collaboration
Harkeerat Kang, King County IT Product Engineering

King County works very closely with various partnering cities in the county and non-profit organizations to help track revegetation projects. Come see how we are leveraging ArcGIS Online, Hub, and webhooks to manage project participants.

Harkeerat's slide presentation

December 2020

Drowned Cities: Extreme Sea Level Rise

Jeffery Linn, King County GIS Center

Since creating his first sea level rise map of the city of Seattle, Jeffrey has created dozens of them for cities around the world. He will discuss the processes, cartographic techniques, and data sources he uses for these maps, as well as sources of inspiration for speculative place names.

October 2020

GIS Potpourri 4


Metro Transit Route Book Online (RBO)
Phil DeVault, Metro Transit

Metro publishes a 600-page transit route training manual twice a year. Phil will discuss the development of an online alternative.

Open Access COVID-19 Testing Locations Web Application
Toni Carpenter, King County GIS Center, Spatial Services

Public Health - Seattle & King County worked with the King County GIS center to create an online interactive map showing the locations of COVID-19 testing sites within King County. The locations provide testing for anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Pop-ups for each testing site include phone number, website, insurance requirements, language interpretation and appointment details. The data is gathered by Public Health and the sites are located and mapped by King County GIS Center Spatial Services. The data and map are updated frequently.

COVID-19 Testing Locations

Salmon SEEson Web Application
Fred Lott, King County GIS Center, Spatial Services

Salmon SEEson is a site for finding salmon viewing sites, either in-person or virtually. It was built with ArcGIS Experience Builder, and uses custom pop-ups for displaying dynamic site information.

Salmon SEEson

Local Food Finder Web Application
Fred Lott, King County GIS Center, Spatial Services

Local Food Finder is Web AppBuilder application for finding local farm products. Local farm businesses submit data via several Survey123 forms. A Python workflow combines the form data into a feature dataset for the web app.

Local Food Finder

August 2020

GIS Potpourri 3


Using GIS floor plans to help coordinate office changes at King Street Center
Patrick Sowers, Wastewater Treatment Division

With the reorganization of staff at King Street Center coming soon, King County Wastewater Treatment Division is working to leverage GIS to help plan and schedule the move. Patrick will describe his process for creating GIS-formatted floor-plan data from CAD files. He will also demonstrate a dashboard application which can be used to schedule staff presence to help limit the number of people on the floor at one time.

Patrick's slide presentation

Utilizing ArcGIS Enterprise Portal
Harkeerat Kang, King County GIS Center, Software Engineering Team

King County Water and Land Resources Division, River and Floodplain Management Section is piloting the use of ArcGIS Enterprise Portal to manage GIS data in the field and office. Harkeerat will give a quick overview of Portal and discuss project start-up, the pros and cons of using ArcGIS Online vs. Portal, and more.

Harkeerat's slide presentation

Sharing drone imagery data through ArcGIS Enterprise Portal

Peter Keum, Wastewater Treatment Division
Peter will describe a workflow for leveraging the Portal platform to share imagery to King County staff via a webmap.

Peter's slide presentation (

June 2020

no meeting this month

April 2020  

GIS for COVID-19 Roundtable

This meeting was held via Skype with speakers from across the country.

A round-table discussion on issues related to using GIS to support agency response to the COVID-19 crisis in our communities.

Many agencies struggle with how best to leverage GIS as part of their COVID-19 response efforts. This roundtable brought together people from the Puget Sound region and across the U.S. They shared a snapshot of their approaches for using GIS for COVID-19 response, including such challenges and issues as balancing personal location privacy with the public's desire to know case locations. After the panel discussion, the audience had an opportunity to ask questions.

Moderator: Greg Babinski, assisted by Mary Ullrich and Patrick Jankanish


  • Introductions: Greg [5 minutes]
  • Speakers [9 speakers, 3-5 min each]
  • Speaker roundtable [15 minutes]
  • Open forum [20 minutes]
  • Adjournment: Greg [5 min]


  1. Stephen Beimborn: City of Seattle GIS Manager (Washington)
  2. Katie Miga, GISP, Fairfax County GIS Project Manager (Virginia) 
  3. Joanne Markert, Washington State GIS Coordinator
  4. Daniel Stoelb, GIS Program Coordinator, Oregon Office of Emergency Management (absent from call)
  5. Joseph Elfelt, (Redmond, Washington)
  6. Cheryl Wilder, Health GIS Professional (Houston,Texas)
  7. Dara Seidl, EthicalGEO Fellow (San Luis Obispo, California)
  8. Tamara Kamara, City of Detroit Enterprise Applications Manager (Michigan)
  9. George Horning: King County GIS Manager (Seattle, Washington)


Video (YouTube)

February 2020

King County Metro: Travel Options Web App

Adam Cabrera & Matt Kozleski, King County Information Technology

How do you deliver a simple and intuitive transit system app to a wide public audience? What if you combine the Layer List and Legend controls into a single control and take the GIS out of it? Or expand and modify the popup control and augment it with rich real-time information?

Adam and Matt will demonstrate King County Metro Transit's Travel Options app illustrating how they modified the standard UI/UX to deliver a user-friendly interface using the Web AppBuilder framework. This will include a deep dive into the interactive Legend control and modifications to the Popup control.

December 2019 

GIS for ESJ Best Practices

Greg Babinski, King County GIS Center

Greg will present an effort he is leading to develop and publish best practices for using GIS for issues related to equity and social justice (ESJ), which is being supported by an Ethical GEO Fellowship awarded to him by the American Geographical Society. This subject has been accepted by the GIS&T Body of Knowledge editorial board as a future GIS&T topic. Greg will cover the background and scope of the effort, as well as the project plan and schedule. Greg will also describe how GIS users with an interest in ESJ can participate.

Slide Deck

October 2019

Using GIS in King County Elections to map voters and voter turnout

Katrina Sroufe & Vance Julien, King County Elections GIS

The King County Department of Elections maps voter turnout to inspire the community to get involved in voting. Come learn how Elections uses ArcGIS Online and GIS to map voter registration and turnout data.

August 2019

no meeting this month

June 2019

GIS Potpourri 2


Connecting the Wastewater Treatment Division's facilities asset management system to GIS
Kim Vo, Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD)

Kim will describe the web application that WTD developed to locate and identify wastewater equipment assets. She will explain how she utilized the ArcGIS API for Python and ArcPy to integrate GIS with the not-GIS-friendly Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) that the WTD Asset Management team is using. She will demonstrate how tabular asset data from the CMMS is accessed through ArcGIS Online.

GeoPackages: Your friendly new geospatial format
Fred Lott, KCGIS Center

Geospatial data is everywhere now—not just in Esri products—and a modern, open-exchange format is needed. Enter GeoPackages! If you want the portability and flexibility of shapefiles without the technical limitations, these might just be the solution. Fred will provide an overview of the features and use cases for GeoPackages in the current geospatial landscape.

Slide Deck

Using GIS to manage King County Elections ballot drop-box collections
Toni Carpenter and Harkeerat Kang, KCGIS Center

The King County Department of Elections went paperless earlier this year for the April election—no, not for ballots, but for managing and tracking ballot retrievals from drop boxes. Come learn how GIS apps were used to create work assignments, complete driver surveys, and display progress live on a dashboard. You’ll see how GIS helps your ballot travel to the Department of Elections headquarters to be counted.

April 2019

GIS Potpourri

KCGIS Center Staff

Turning dumb map-label text into smart interactive-map data

Patrick Jankanish

Patrick will demonstrate a methodology for using text objects in an Adobe Illustrator map drawing to produce a geospatial overlay of associated polygons which include feature attributes derived from the text. The polygons can then be layered with the Adobe Illustrator map image in an interactive web map which has the effect of making the text labels selectable, producing pop-ups that reveal links to bus route schedules and maps. The methodology relies on tools in the third-party Illustrator plug-in, MAPublisher, with additional processing in ArcGIS.

Using R/RStudio as a fast and flexible data exploration tool
Fred Lott

Fred will discuss how he’s been using R, and specifically the tidyverse  packages, as a data exploration and analysis tool for census, building footprint, and property data. R provides options for manipulating large datasets that might otherwise be unwieldy in Excel or ArcGIS. Starting with importing data from CSVs and database connections, several methods of data cleanup, filtering, and summarizing will be demonstrated.

Understanding King County Demographic Index and Demographic Base datasets
Mary Ullrich

King County provides a wealth of demographic information from the Census Bureau through its spatial data catalog, data download portal, and open data site. Two of these datasets take the heavy lifting out of data compilation: Demographic Base and Demographic Index. Mary will explain the differences between these datasets and the methodologies that produce them.

February 2019

Ground-Truthing: GIS as a Community-Based and Anti-Racist Praxis
Veronica Velez, Western Washington University, Associate Professor and Founding Director of the Education and Social Justice Minor

Critical race spatial analysis (CRSA) is a recently developed methodological framework that extends GIS from its traditional use in geography and urban planning into new avenues and possibilities for examining educational interests concerned with the social, cultural, political, and historic role of space and place as it relates to schools and educational inopportunity. By re-imagining how socio-spatial relationships are explored, analyzed, and displayed, CRSA positions GIS as a critical research tool for addressing spatial inequities and furthering racial justice efforts within education and beyond.

This presentation explores the potential of CRSA as critical community-based and anti-racist praxis through a case study of Latina immigrant mothers who initiated a community-led GIS project to explore spatial indicators of educational inopportunity, drawing evidence from their own lives and the lives of their children. These mothers engaged GIS to tell counter-cartographic narratives about the racial divides, or “color lines,” defining uneven geographies of opportunity in their school district. By redefining GIS mapping as a community-based praxis, the mothers “ground-truthed” the maps, revealing spaces and spatial relationships that otherwise would go unnoticed. They transformed the power of the maps to rest not in their “gee-whiz” displays of data, but in the weaving of a spatial narrative that linked their current efforts to historical struggles for educational equity.

Methodologically, their efforts reveal the potential of GIS and CRSA to build spatial models of the world from the lived experiences of People of Color. Beyond the importance of GIS for critical race research, it also serves as an important pedagogical tool for teaching about race and racism. Through a CRSA framework, GIS maps function as teaching devices that highlight the importance of geographical and spatial features for maintaining racial divides in schools and society.

Slide Deck


December 2018

Martin Luther King, William Bunge, URISA, and GIS for Equity and Social Justice

Greg Babinski, King County GIS Center, Marketing & Business Development Manager
Nicole Franklin, King County Information Technology, Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Beginning with the coincidence of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the precursor conference for the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, we will survey the role of GIS in addressing issues of Equity and Social Justice (ESJ).

Professor William Bunge, who earned a doctorate in geography from the University of Washington in 1960, anticipated the development of GIS through his work in theoretical geography. Bunge also pioneered the use of quantitative spatial analysis and applied geography as tools to address community-based social issues. Bunge’s time at the UW coincided with the tenure there of Edgar Horwood who first applied computer technology to urban planning. Horwood also organized that August 1963 conference which led to the formation of URISA.

In this presentation we will survey research and publications related to Equity and Social Justice as reported in URISA conference proceedings and workshops, and in the URISA journal, during the past 55 years. We will also outline how GIS is applied to ESJ issues at King County, other local agencies, and academic institutions. King County, which was renamed in 2005 for Dr. King, is a leader in applying ESJ criteria in all of its priorities and programs. We will describe how King County GIS supports this work by creating a rich foundation of data and tools to put ESJ analysis into the hands of everyone within the county and communities that we serve.

Slide deck

October 2018

Announcing the Sound to Summit Regional GIS Study
Greg Babinski, King County GIS Center, Marketing & Business Development Manager

In Washington, public agency operating budgets are restricted by a mandated 1% limit on annual increases in property tax revenue. Fortunately, regional collaboration could lower the need for increases in GIS budgets by reducing duplication of effort and expense among local GIS operations. Regional sharing could also effect a shift of costs away from data maintenance and administration toward greater provision of services.

Recently the Sound to Summit Regional GIS Steering Committee announced the launch of a project to explore ways to collaboratively organize and operate GIS data and services within the region. The goal is to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of GIS for all regional agencies while ensuring sustainability. A key outcome will be low-cost access for medium and small agencies to state-of-the-art GIS applications.

This presentation will describe the factors that motivated the launch of this multi-year project, outline our work plan, and provide examples of other viable regional GIS enterprises in the US and Canada.

Slide deck.

August 2018

Vector tiles and other GIS news
Peter Keum, King County Wastewater Treatment Division

You’ve heard about vector tiles. You’ve used vector tiles in a variety of online maps, perhaps without even realizing it. But have you created your own vector tile maps? King County GIS specialist Peter Keum works with a variety of open source tools to create powerful vector tile map layers and maps. He’ll show us how.

Peter will also summarize what he learned at this year’s Washington GIS Conference and at the Mapbox Locate conference, their “first event celebrating and exploring the connectedness of the world around us.” Come hear Peter’s perspective on what’s new in GIS technologies!

Slide deck.

June 2018

Rats! A virtual GIS-based guided tour of rat activity in Seattle's sewer system
A demonstration of the use of Esri's Collector for ArcGIS in Public Health's sewer baiting program
Leah Helms, Public Health — Seattle & King County

Public Health’s Environmental Health Services Division provides sewer baiting services to control rat populations in sewer systems in Seattle. In 2017 the program began utilizing the Collector for ArcGIS application to track the status of sewer manhole baiting with real-time data capture and display.

So what is sewer baiting anyway? Sewer manholes are assessed for rodent activity by the insertion of non-toxic monitoring bait. If there is activity, the manhole will subsequently be re-baited with rodenticide. Areas of the city that have sewer rat activity will be re-assessed annually.

April 2018

From AVL to My Commute: How hard can it be?
Jeffery Gregg, GIS Analyst, King County GIS Center

To further assist travelers in making informed decisions about road conditions throughout King County, KCDOT wanted to have a layer added to the existing My Commute web-map application to show which County-maintained roads have been plowed or sanded within the previous hour at any particular time during a snow event.

On-board devices spit out streams of data from snow plows—GPS* waypoints in an AVL feed. Waypoints and timestamps (in GMT) go into a database table every day. And… but I digress, just come to the User Group meeting to hear how we put the plows on the map. I'll cover the project objective, technical details, and project resolution. (But it probably won't be snowing.)

Slide deck.

*Global Positioning System
Automated Vehicle Location
Greenwich Mean Time

February 2018

no meeting this month

About the KCGIS User Group

The KCGIS User Group is a bi-monthly forum that features information sharing among users of the King County Geographic Information System in the form of announcements, technical tips, and in-depth presentations. Users can find out first-hand what is happening across departments and disciplines, and glean timely information that will affect their day-to-day work.

The agenda is designed to be of interest to King County GIS staff, however other GIS users are welcome.

The user group meets in King Street Center in downtown Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. Meetings are held on the seventh floor in conference room 7044-45. From the seventh-floor elevator lobby, enter via keycard or receptionist buzz-in.

KCGIS User Group meetings are scheduled for the first Wednesday of every other month from 11am to noon. Make sure you check here for the latest information before attending.

2022 Dates

  • February 2
  • April 6
  • June 1
  • August 3
  • October 5
  • December 7