Flint, Mich. – In an effort to help identify the location of lead pipes and other components of Flint’s water infrastructure, GIS experts from the City of Flint, State of Michigan, the University of Michigan – Flint, and FEMA have translated hundreds of hand-drawn plat maps from the 1980s and hand-written notes on thousands of cards about updates to home plumbing systems into digitized maps. These maps are helping with the response and determine where safe water is needed.
“Mapping infrastructure to this depth of detail is highly unusual,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of emergency management and homeland security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. “Since most of the water system infrastructure is underground, we can’t just walk out and survey it, so GIS mapping is a critical component of the state’s coordinated response.”
Once the maps are in digital format, they are synched with 2015 parcel data. The maps can then be overlaid with Census information and infrastructure information, allowing analysts to pinpoint which homes have lead service lines.
“The state is making progress in organizing, cataloging, and converting water service line information from paper to searchable databases and digitized maps,” said Scott Bailey, a GIS data analyst with FEMA helping with the mapping project. “This is going to be a success story because prior to this event, this type of information was not available in a GIS environment.”
The GIS systems have already assisted response teams as they go door to door to deliver water supplies to residents. Each team is armed with an iPad that feeds information into the GIS system. The online application uploads home data in real time, noting whether there are children in the household and which ones have been provided with bottled water, a water test kit, a water filter and replacement cartridges. The information has also helped identify the number of inhabited homes in a city affected by blight. Old data may show a street full of residents, when some houses are actually vacant.
For more information the GIS project, contact James Tchorzynski, at 517-230-5568. Additional information is available at www.michigan.gov/flintwater<http://www.michigan.gov/flintwater>, by calling 211 or 844-875-9211, or visiting www.helpforflint.com<http://www.helpforflint.com/>
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