Skip to main content
King County logo

September 25, 2015

King County Metro Transit has launched a new System Map Viewer for online public use. The viewer, which was created by the King County GIS Center’s Client Services group in consultation with Metro, provides seamless, interactive map coverage for the Metro service area inside a standard web browser. Users can perform familiar interactive map viewing functions, such as panning and zooming, which by itself improves access to a map that until now has been available only as a set of PDF files. Additional features further enhance map access and utility. These include address and place-name search, quick map navigation to each transit center using a set of built-in geographic bookmarks (plus the ability for users to create and save their own bookmarks for any parts of the maps they choose), and printing of custom map views.

KCGIS Center Client Services and Metro Transit designed and created the popular service-frequency-based system map that is displayed in the new viewer in 2012. Since then the map has been updated and kept on-view in kiosks at transit centers and other key locations throughout Metro's service area, but due to scale limitations, never in a full system-wide format. The kiosk map displays will continue to serve the transit-riding public, but now desktop-computer and mobile-device users alike can view the entire map in one piece. The technology behind the System Map Viewer is the same technology that powers the new King County iMap which was launched earlier this year. A great advantage of the technology is that the map viewer adapts on the fly for optimized display on mobile devices. Now riders can view the Metro system map on a tablet or smartphone while in transit, and even geolocate themselves on the map.

The Metro Transit System Map Viewer is just the latest in a growing portfolio of interactive map applications developed by KCGIS Center staff for internal and external clients. To learn more, contact the Client Services group.

April 1, 2015

King County iMap thumbnail imageAs you can see if you skim down the headlines on this page, the big news for the last couple of months here at the King County GIS Center has been our newly redeveloped King County iMap interactive map viewer. We’re pleased to announce that new iMap is now the KCGIS Center's flagship web-mapping application!

Throughout the month of March, iMap Beta has been available to everyone for testing. Our development staff has been listening to feedback, talking to users, and applying revisions. And now you can see and use the results of those efforts. While we can’t say we’ll continue to revise iMap at the same rapid pace of the past several weeks, one of the advantages of the new technology is its flexibility. So compared to the original iMap, revising and adding features that users really need as time goes on will be much easier.

Speaking of original iMap, it is now retired. The technology behind it was no longer being supported, which was one reason for developing new iMap. But even if that were not the case, we believe that veteran and first-time iMap users alike will be more productive with this major addition to the set of GIS and mapping tools that the KCGIS Center offers to local citizens and King County government staff.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed feedback and ideas during the iMap Beta test period! As always, we’d love to hear about your experiences using iMap. Our mailbox is always open (and monitored during business hours):

March 17, 2015

Modern web searching can seem pretty ho-hum these days. We reflexively tap out questions on whatever screen is at hand, or casually probe our ever-present companions Siri, Cortana, and Google. We expect answers and we get answers, but not always wanted or useful answers. Sometimes we search and search for a needle but just get hay.

The new King County iMap is thoroughly modern in its inclusion of search capabilities. But more than that, its search tools are designed to give you useful answers—the answers you expect and need. That’s because iMap isn’t a general search platform, called upon to provide answers on any subject for any place. Where iMap shines is in giving you the means to seek and find literally millions of pieces of specific, useful, and relevant information—all needles and no hay—among dozens of specially selected, geographically based sets of data about King County.

The iMap development team has used its expert knowledge of the content of iMap’s layers to build search tools that can find just the right pieces of information. Start off simply with the Basic Search tool in the upper left corner of iMap by entering an address, a street intersection, a parcel number, or even just a partial place name which could represent a park, a landmark, a school, or many, many other kinds of locations. While you’re typing, iMap will suggest matches that it finds in any one of several databases that Basic Search can peer into. Pick a match, or just keep typing and hit enter, and iMap will automatically zoom to the matched location.

The Enhanced Search panel in iMap offers many options for conducting specific searches within any of twenty different information layers. You select the layer you want to search and the type of information you want to find in that layer. In many cases, a list of features, such as all of the cities or all of the parks in King County, has already been provided for you—all you have to do is scroll down the list and make your pick. In most cases you can also type in a name or a number or some other search term yourself. And since iMap is based on geography, Enhanced Search also gives you many ways to select features in map layers by location—either by location relative to other selected map features, or by defining a search location with a set of drawing tools.

Here’s a tip—once you have some search results showing in the Enhanced Search panel, open iMap’s Layers List and notice that your results are represented by a new map layer right at the top of list! You can toggle this results layer off and on, move it below other map layers, and see a table of attributes for the features in the layer. This is just one example of the power that iMap gives you to find and work with meaningful information from the treasure trove of King County data that iMap can access.

Try it! We’d love to hear about your experiences using the search tools in iMap Beta, especially during the next several weeks as we fine-tune iMap for its official launch on April 1st. Please send your feedback to and help us make iMap work for you.

March 10, 2015

Have you heard of responsive web design? Even if you haven’t, you have probably seen it, especially when web surfing on a tablet or smartphone. Responsive design means that web pages are programmed to “respond” to different browser window and screen sizes and formats by adjusting their own layouts on the fly to accommodate. The King County home page is an excellent example—if its display gets narrower, the number of page columns decreases, images resize automatically, and some page content is consolidated under expandable icons. One of the most exciting features King County’s new iMap is that its interface also employs responsive design.

Web-map viewing applications like iMap can be more sophisticated than most web pages, with lots of layout elements and many interconnected parts and functions in addition to the map itself. That can make them difficult to navigate on a tablet and practically impossible on a smartphone. Web map developers will sometimes expend costly extra effort to make separate versions of web-map apps that will work on mobile devices. New iMap vaults over those difficulties by using technology that has responsive design capability built in. This means that iMap’s developers need to build and maintain just one version of the application, and iMap’s users can put it to work on any of their web-enabled devices.

Try it! We’d love to hear about your experiences using iMap Beta on mobile devices, especially during the next several weeks as we fine-tune iMap for its official launch on April 1st. Please send your feedback to and help us make iMap work for you.

March 4, 2015

new iMap Beta thumbnail image

The King County GIS Center is delighted to announce that iMap Beta is live online and ready for you to take for a spin.

If you missed our iMap news last month, the original King County iMap is nearing retirement. It’s been a rugged workhorse for the government and citizens of King County for thirteen years, but it’s based on technology that has been surpassed by current web-mapping options and is nearing the end of its supported lifecycle. With that end in sight, and with the desire to offer the best web-map experience to iMap users, KCGIS Center developers have been diligently building iMap’s successor with the latest web-mapping technology, tools, and resources.

For the next month, users of the original iMap will have the opportunity to try out their familiar tasks and workflows side-by-side with our new iMap. First-time iMap users will discover a vast library of diverse information about King County that is now as readily accessible from tablets and smartphones as it is from desktop computers and laptops.

We’re anxious to hear from all iMap users, veterans and first timers, how our new King County iMap works for you because really it is your iMap. It is your viewing window, your search platform, your data-access tool—your desktop and hand-held compendium of geographically based information about King County, its characteristics, and its resources. From now until April 1st, we’ll be listening to you to learn how we can make iMap the best it can be to meet your needs. Of course, our listening doesn’t stop on April 1st—we’ll continue the ongoing process of making enhancements in response to advances in technology as well as the needs of our users—but on April 1st the original iMap will be retired.

Your thoughts and ideas are critical to making iMap the best it can be. We invite your comments to Give new iMap a full workout, let us know how it goes, and watch this space in the coming weeks for more iMap news.

February 3, 2015

The King County GIS Center's iMap has been a workhorse web-based mapping application for more than a decade. King County citizens and government staff rely on iMap day in and day out to access and view a multitude of authoritative King County spatial data layers and the wealth of information they hold. Interactive tools give iMap users the ability to select, view, navigate, and investigate data themes and map layer combinations, as well as conduct searches, determine locations, and create and print custom map views.

The King County GIS Center is pleased to announce that a better, faster, more reliable, and more flexible iMap will be launched next month. KCGIS Center developers are using the latest web-mapping technology to rebuild iMap from the ground up so that it takes advantage of the exciting capabilities that the new technology enables, including on-the-fly support for optimized tablet and smartphone display and use. The iMap development team has also been interviewing and receiving feedback from a spectrum of current iMap users, especially those who rely on using iMap in very specific ways to perform job-related tasks and workflows, to ensure that the new iMap will continue to support existing tasks and workflows among its many new features and functions.

By early March, the new iMap will be publicly available for all users to try out. You'll hear about it right here in the KCGIS Center News and via other announcements. Please let your colleagues know too. We want to encourage users to put the new iMap through its paces, and to become familiar with the new look and feel because introducing the new also means phasing out the old—the current iMap will be retired at the end of March. On April 1st (yes, truly) the new iMap will take over for good and become a new workhorse among King County GIS web-based mapping applications.