GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS:
The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) group is responsible for the creation, maintenance and dissemination of spatial information pertaining to the Hackensack Meadowlands District and the region. The GIS is where maps and data about the District are stored digitally and where geographic information is assembled on demand to address planning and environmental issues. Our goal is to help the Commission communicate geographically with District towns, planners, and engineers and support the research activities of the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI). An important component is to support our District municipalities by providing access to GIS data and tools.
The NJMC’s regional Geographic Information System is bringing all 14 municipalities in the District on line with state-of-the-art technology that puts databases, maps, and other information at the fingertips of first responders and municipal officials.
The system provides emergency workers within District municipalities instant access to maps and other critical right to know information for emergency response situations from laptop computers inside emergency vehicles. The Emergency Response Information System (ERIS) allows users to access aerial photographs of buildings as well as records of hazardous materials that may be stored inside. In addition, a comprehensive training program for municipal staff followed by technical support and refresher seminars are also part of the program.
In 1992, the Commission began using and building the GIS infrastructure. In 1998, the GIS group became part of MERI, which is the scientific arm of the Commission. MERI-GIS has four full-time professional staff and an assortment of specialized research fellows. For more information on our activities and data, visit the MERI homepage.
A component of this program is to transfer GIS technology and data sets to participating Municipalities. This program is administered through MERI. District municipalities receive a GIS system that includes current and relevant datasets such as: property boundaries, roads, land use, zoning, census data, municipal infrastructure, and current imagery.
In addition to the data collection and field work provided, an array of web applications is created for the municipalities to view geo-spatial information on the web. The data can be accessed through the following URL at: http://meri.njmeadowlands.gov/gis/maps.html
The NJMC is providing all 14 District municipalities with tablet PC’s and ERIS training.
The Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) runs the NJMC’s Geographic Information Systems group (GIS), the environmental chemistry laboratory, the scientific library and a network of field environmental monitoring stations. MERI scientists oversee environmental studies that guide the NJMC’s policies and plans for the future. MERI is currently conducting several experiments and continuously monitors air and water quality to gain a full understanding of the ecological vitality of the Meadowlands region and how to maintain and better protect the Meadowlands ecosystem.
Under the Municipal Assistance Program (MAP), MERI-GIS developed a program called Emergency Response Information System (ERIS). This program is designed to assist Emergency Managers of the 14 District Municipalities. MERI provides all 14 Meadowlands District towns with portable GIS laptops for emergency management. These programs come loaded on a tablet-style computer. One of the unique features includes the ability to identify buildings from an aerial photo and bring up records about any hazardous materials that may be stored in that building according to Right to Know records from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
ERIS provides access to potentially life-saving information and can be accessed from patrol cars and emergency vehicles operating in the field. The information is updated continuously and compiled from original paper maps, satellite images, Census data and other geographical documents available at the local, state, and county levels. Examples of GIS data include:
- Lot information
- Owner information
- Zoning information
- Building locations and footprints
- Utility locations
- Fire hydrant locations
- Wetlands locations
- Flood hazard areas
- Right-to-know information/hazardous materials locations
In addition, MERI trains municipal officials and first responders in use of technology with customized manuals, tests, fieldwork, and refresher courses. The MERI database is continually updated and regionalized through research and submissions by municipalities. MERI also provides Global Positioning System training to municipal officials and lends equipment capable of plotting the coordinates of storm water outfalls, hydrants, utilities, and other key infrastructure.