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December 12, 2006

In recent years a formal process has been established by which GIS practitioners can achieve a certification that recognizes and attests to their education, experience, and contributions within the GIS profession. The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), an independent body made up of representatives from many professional GIS organizations, administers the certification process, which includes documentation of educational achievements in GIS subjects.

We have revised our KCGIS Training Program catalog to indicate the number of of GISCI educational achievement points that can be earned by the successful completion of each of our ESRI-authorized and custom GIS classes. Just navigate to any class page and look for the GISCI logo to see the number of points that are available with each class. Also, the points will be documented on the certificates of completion that will be given to students attending KCGIS Training Program classes.

More information: GIS Certification Institute (external link)

November 29, 2006

Throughout the week of October 30–November 3, the divisions that make up the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) displayed and demonstrated their activities and services in the lobby of the King Street Center. On November 3, the King County GIS Center, which operates out of DNRP at King Street Center, took its turn. Building visitors and tenants were greeted in the lobby by many examples of recent mapping projects. KCGIS Training Coordinator, Cheryl Wilder, was on hand to present information about the numerous offerings in the KCGIS training catalog. And Chris Jansen of the KCGIS Center Client Services team provided hands-on demonstrations of two of King County's most popular online services:iMAP and Parcel Viewer.

The event was captured in a two-minute video that is now available online courtesy of the DNRP Public Affairs Unit. More than just a record of the event, the video is a quick and easy introduction to KCGIS services for anyone who has wondered, "What can GIS do for me?" For follow-up to the video, or any inquiries about GIS in general, or KCGIS Center services in particular, Client Services staff are ready and happy to help.

November 3, 2006

Throughout the week of October 30 to November 3 the divisions that make up the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP), will be featured with displays and demonstrations in the lobby of the King Street Center at 201 South Jackson Street in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood, home of the King County GIS Center.

On Friday, the KCGIS Center, which operates out of DNRP, will have its turn to show off. Visitors to King Street Center will have a great opportunity for hands-on demonstrations of two of King County's most popular online services: iMAP and Parcel Viewer. If you haven't had a chance to use either of these interactive mapping and information research applications before, Friday's DNRP Division Days spotlight on GIS will be a great opportunity to get an expert tour of what they can do for you.

October 20, 2006

Map Redesign

The King County GIS Center is happy to announce the release of new map symbolization for iMAP. When we have asked users what we could do to make iMAP better they suggested changes in the way many of the map features are symbolized. We listened and got to work making easier to read maps that will better help you find the information you are seeking.

Among the many improvements, elevation contour lines can now be displayed in a light or a dark color so that you can choose the one that looks best for your purposes. Also, street lines are easier to see, parcel boundary lines are more distinct, city names are more legible, city boundaries are clearer and the cities layer ("Incorporated Area") no longer interferes with viewing aerial photos.

We hope you like these changes and find it even easier to use iMAP because of them.

  iMAP redesign sample 1: 230kb JPEG   iMAP redesign sample 2: 320kb JPEG   iMAP redesign sample 3: 293kb JPEG
  iMAP sample map images: click to view full-size

Map Your Own Coordinates

The latest new iMAP function lets you enter a pair of geographic coordinates for any point that lies within King County and automatically zoom to that point. Many users are already familiar with iMAP's "Capture Coordinates" tool with which one can obtain the geographic coordinates for any point in the iMAP display. Now the tool is called simply "Coordinates," and in addition to its original function, you can use it to enter any pair of coordinates you choose and map that location. The tool will accept both latitude/longitude and state plane coordinates. Latitude/longitude coordinates are derived typically from Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and mapping programs, such as Google Earth. State plane coordinates are used by surveyors, mapmakers, and GIS users. (For information about the state plane coordinate system, see "KCGIS Data Standards")

This new feature is another response to requests made by iMAP users during our user survey last summer and through e-mail inquiries to us. If you have a question or suggestion about iMAP, please e-mail us. Maybe your suggestion will appear in a future version of iMAP.

Coordinates entry form sample image: 25kb JPEG
Coordinates entry form sample image: click to view full size

Make Your Own Smart Links

Have you ever wanted to send someone a hyperlink that will take them right to the same iMAP view you are seeing—maybe even with a particular parcel selected? Well now you can! Although there is no automatic way to create such a link, with a little planning, you can construct a URL to iMAP that will:

  • open a particular map set
  • select a specific parcel
  • center on a chosen latitude/longitude or state plane coordinate
  • zoom to a set scale.

If you are interested in learning how to do this, just consult the iMAP FAQs entry for complete instructions.

September 8, 2006

Regional Map Book illustrationTransit users in the Central Puget Sound region have a new tool to guide them in the use of public transportation and travel options throughout the region. Public transit service providers in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties are distributing free copies of the “Regional Transit Map Book,” a new 28-page collection of regional and local transit maps, service information, and provider contacts.

Booklet features include a region-wide map that delineates the three-county Sound Transit District, and a separate area map for each of the five Sound Transit fare zones. The area maps depict all Sound Transit routes and the connecting local bus routes. Several large-scale maps show even more detail for key urban transit locales.

The maps are supplemented by tables of transit facilities, such as transit centers and park-and-ride lots, as well as the transit service options available at each facility. Bus route tables identify the routes depicted on the maps by number, description, and hours of service.

Booklet users also have at hand information about numerous transit rider options, such as fares and passes, special needs services, and vanpooling. Contact information for nearly twenty Puget Sound area transit service providers ensures ready access to the full range of regional travel options, including online trip planning services. Inviting photographs on almost every page illustrate numerous travel options and represent all of the major service providers, adding to the comprehensive regional character of the map book.

All of these features together provide both a high-level regional overview of public transportation options, and a convenient starting point for trip planning from and to any place in the three-county service area.

The colorful, compact booklet was conceived and developed by Sound Transit with cartographic and booklet design, layout, and production contracted to the King County GIS Center in Seattle. The KCGIS Center was established in 2001 as a separate King County internal service fund, chartered to provide GIS services to both county agencies and external customers. The skills, experience, and resources that the KCGIS Center offers its clients proved to be a natural fit for the design, data handling, and production tasks required by Sound Transit's specifications for the map booklet.

One of the many challenging aspects of the project was the coordination of data and information acquisition from, and map reviews by, the four primary local transit service partner agencies that provide connections to Sound Transit’s regional system of express busses, commuter rail, and light rail: King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Community Transit, and Everett Transit. Sound Transit's success in this aspect of the project, and the cooperation of the various agencies, give the map book a truly inclusive and complete regional scope.

Look for the "Regional Transit Map Book" at major distribution points for public transit system schedules and maps, such as the Metro Customer Service office in downtown Seattle at 201 South Jackson Street.


August 31, 2006

When surveyed recently, many iMAP users requested the ability to perform area measurements. We're happy to now offer this feature, as well as the new ability to see the length of each line segment drawn by the measure tool right on the map. Another requested change was in the default map units, which is now set to feet. You can switch easily to different units for both distance and area with the Set Units button.

iMAP Measure Tool example screenshot

Example of the iMAP Measure Tool results.

July 18, 2006

We've recently expanded the list of data layers that can be viewed in iMap's Sensitive Areas map set with seven layers related to the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). King County passed the Critical Areas Ordinance in January 2005 to protect public health and safety, as well as public and private resources, from natural hazards by limiting development in hazard areas, such as steep slopes or flood zones. The CAO is also intended to protect environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands and streams, from being adversely affected by clearing and development of land for residences, commercial use and livestock.

The inclusion of the CAO layers in the Sensitive Areas map set can help users determine the presence of CAO-related factors that may affect permitting on particular parcels. However, proposed projects should be discussed with the Permit Center staff in the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) at 206-296-6600.

illustration: iMAP CAO layers
May 12, 2006

"Columbia River Basin," a map by Patrick Jankanish of the KCGIS Center, has won the People's Choice Award for Best Entry in the 2006 Washington GIS Conference Poster and Map Contest. The Washington GIS Conference, held May 8-10 at the Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, was attended by approximately 250 GIS professionals, users, and vendors. About two dozen of the most outstanding examples of cartographic products from Washington State were entered into the contest this year. In addition to the People’s Choice Award, other awards included:

  • Best Map: "Fort Lewis Environmental and Natural Resources Division Wall Map" by Keith D. Jackson, Anteon Corporation and Fort Lewis Public Works
  • Best Map Poster: "Calculating Upper and Lower Confidence Levels for IDW Interpolation" by Cindy Jackson and Craig Hanson, Windward Environmental LLC
  • Best Student Map: "Classification and Distribution of Lake Types in Washington State" by Janet Rhodes, Andrew Perkins, Dr. Anthony Gabriel, and Dr. Karl Lillquist, Central Washington University.

The quality of all entries into the contest was extremely high this year. Congratulations to all winners!

May 4, 2006

KCGIS Center Training Coordinator, Cheryl Wilder, was named one of the "Top 5 Instructors" by ESRI for the first quarter of 2006. During this period Cheryl taught the ESRI-authorized classes Introduction to ArcGIS I and II to a total of 96 students.

The KCGIS Center Training Program also includes the ESRI-authorized Introduction to ArcView 3.x. The KCGIS Center is able to provide these classes at a considerable cost savings in our convenient and comfortable downtown Seattle training facility. Plus, we offer ESRI-authorized training in your facility! Recent on-site clients have included Snohomish County, the Seattle Public School District, and the City of Bellingham.

We also teach a growing catalog of custom classes designed to enhance the productivity of both novice and more experienced GIS users. These custom classes are offered under our GIS Training Express program. The GIS Training Express curriculum is designed to be specific and detailed, yet broad enough to suit the business needs of individuals from many different agencies. A range of class and course offerings allows users to stick to GIS basics, or to expand their knowledge with advanced or highly specialized topics.

For current and future KCGIS Center GIS training opportunities, see

What students have said about Cheryl Wilder….

  • Clear and concise - gave good information and time to finish the exercises and experiment on our own. Always willing to help and took the time to find answers she didn't have on hand. Cheryl did a great job explaining the course materials.The course was extremely useful. Cheryl was a fabulous instructor. Book and sample exercises very well suited to my skill level. Logical, easy to follow. I did not feel lost in course. Good pace for a two-day course. I didn't feel rushed or bored. The material will come in handy for my typical work duties.Cheryl has an excellent teaching tempo and is very open to answering questions during the course. I would recommend her to others.I have taken several GIS classes from Cheryl. She is an excellent instructor, very patient, and very willing to work with students to help them understand the concepts.
  • Cheryl Wilder is a great instructor. I came to the class without any knowledge, now I am eager to pursue further in the next GIS course to enhance my career path.
May 1, 2006

The Columbia River is a Pacific Northwest icon, and the average northwesterner is likely to have a pretty good sense of its geography seaward of one of the many familiar landmarks in eastern Washington, such as Grand Coulee Dam, Wenatchee, or the Tri-Cities. But did you know that the source of the Columbia River is in Canada? Did you know that portions of seven states and two provinces compose the Columbia River drainage basin?

Columbia River Basin map thumbnail imageThis information and much more is depicted in a striking new map conceived by Columbia River historian William Layman and created by King County GIS Center Client Services. The map was designed to illustrate River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia, a new publication of the University of Washington Press authored by Layman. Through narrative text and more than ninety historical photographs, River of Memory takes readers on a journey along a Columbia River that has not existed since the era of Pacific Northwest dam building began. Accordingly, the map blends contemporary and historical data to provide a composite of the Columbia's past and present. Readers will spot many places along the course of the Columbia that have vanished beneath the surface of reservoirs, and can see other places that were recorded in the journals of early explorers but are rarely mentioned today. The book and map focus on the Columbia River itself, but the striking physical topography of the entire drainage basin from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Rocky Mountains, from British Columbia to Nevada, will fascinate map readers.

William Layman is also the author of Native River: The Columbia Remembered, and is a recipient of the Castles Heritage Award bestowed by the Center for Columbia River History. In conjunction with the publication of River of Memory, Layman has guest curated an exhibit by the same name that opened on April 21 at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. The exhibit will travel to the Washington State History Museum and several other Northwest venues in 2007 and 2008.

This new map is just the latest example of the wide variety of custom cartographic products created for King County government agencies and external public and private clients by KCGIS Center Client Services.

Map reproduced here courtesy of William Layman and the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. ©2006 Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center.)
March 31, 2006

The variety of custom maps you can print in iMAP just increased dramatically with the ability to choose from three page sizes and two page orientations. Formerly iMAP offered only letter-size map prints in a portrait orientation. Now you can print your own maps in standard letter (8.5x11-inch), legal (8.5x14-inch) and tabloid (11x17-inch) sizes, and you can choose a portrait or landscape page orientation for any of the three sizes. These six page layout options combined with iMAP's other map customizing functions, such as the ability to choose which layers to display, to highlight features on the map, and even to draw your own points, lines, polygons and text, make it possible to create truly individual and unique maps tailored to your specific needs.

The King County GIS Center is dedicated to making iMAP an ever more useful tool for you to find the information you need and get your work done. Your input is important to us and this update to the iMAP print function is in direct response to requests from iMAP users.

March 16, 2006

King County GIS, along with Pierce and Snohomish counties, were the focus of an article on effective use of spatial technology in the latest issue of Cadalyst Magazine (external link). The article outlines some of the ways the three counties make use of GIS technology to meet the needs of citizens, help protect the environment, and provide more cost effective government services. For more information about how King County GIS can help you, contact the KCGIS Center.

February 17, 2006

King County has a new and improved Bicycling Guidemap which is now available for download. The map is a comprehensive guide for bicyclists, and includes information on roads, trails and facilities throughout the county.

This is the first significant update of the map since 1998. The map layout has been changed to a larger, easier-to-read format that includes helpful information.

[The King County bicycle map is out of print and the online map has been retired. August 2015.]

February 8, 2006

King County Dept. of Transportation, Roads Services Division has updated its Road Index Maps (formerly known as the County Road Inventory System maps) with 2005 data.

Users can view or download the entire (extremely large) map book in PDF format, or choose to view / download any of the 43 individual maps that it contains.

January 4, 2006

Keeping Up with ESRI
Keeping Up with ESRI will be offered on Wednesday, February 8, 2006 (morning). This half day class will cover changes and updates to the ArcGIS interface that will effect how KCGIS users, analysts and data stewards interact with their GIS data and environment.

Geoprocessing for Analysts
Geoprocessing for Analysts will be offered on Wednesday, February 8, 2006 (afternoon). This half day class will walk students through a real analysis example that will enable them to become familiar with the ArcGIS Toolbox and geoprocessing tools, the Command Line and the Model Builder.

King County GIS Training Express Program
The GIS Training Express program was launched in September 2005 with its first custom class, Basics of SQL. This class sold out quickly and will be offered again soon. During the first half of 2006 four additional new classes will be announced and more are in development. The GIS Training Express curriculum is designed to be specific and detailed, yet broad enough to suit the business needs of individuals from many different agencies. A range of class and course offerings allows users to stick to GIS basics, or to expand their knowledge with advanced or highly specialized topics.

Classes are offered in King County GIS Center office training facility in downtown Seattle.