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Monday, July 27, 2009

No GIS for Lake County; Assessors Stick with Map, Compass, and Mainframe

Lake County government continues to resist computerizing its records. Not that our commissioners are entirely to blame: they're dealing with hard budget realities and state rules that tie their hands in raising revenues to cover new projects. But in cutting $213K from the budget requests last week, the Lake County Commission axed a string of tech innovations:
  • no Geographical Information System (GIS) for the Equalization Office (savings: $80,200)
  • no new mainframe computer for Equalization ($3,000)
  • no scanning of new plats filed recently with the Register of Deeds ($900)
Now I can understand the viewpoint that sees computerization of records as unnecessary redundancy. We've got paper records; if we really want to find out who's got what, we can still trundle down to the courthouse and riffle through the folders manually.

But a mainframe? We're still running tax rolls on a dot-matrix printer with spindle-fed green-and-white stripey paper. That system has done its bit for king and county. For $3000, we could put in a nice new system of four HP thin clients (that might be one more than we need) and an HP server that owuld probably be more flexible than a typical mainframe solution. Or heck, just buy the staff four laptops and network as necessary.

Update and correction [09:45 CDT]! The local press sends me some clarification: the county apparently took the scanning and mainframe requests off next year's budget because they were able to find some money left in this year's budget to take care of those items now. Whew!
Speaking of GIS, I get excited to read that South Dakota Game Fish & Parks is keeping up with the tech curve by offering maps you can download onto your GPS unit... because we all know how fun it is to hike the wilderness with your head down over a computer screen. This appears to be connected to GF&P's Wildlife Inventory and Land Management Application (yup: WILMA!)... which I try out on my computer this morning and, alas, get only error messages from. Oh well—hand me my compass!

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