Carver County, Minnesota, Encourages Exploration
Recreation Information Portal Promotes Active Living with GIS
Carver County, Minnesota, is located just southwest of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Home to more than 86,000 people, Carver County is the state's fourth fastest growing county. Recently, Carver County embarked on an initiative to further develop its Active Community Planning program by creating an information portal for the discovery and exploration of active living opportunities within the county.
Through collaborative efforts and data sharing between multiple county divisions and various city planners, Carver County gathered information to create a county-specific gateway to activities and opportunities associated with active living. The gateway, a Web site appropriately named GoCarverGo (www.gocarvergo.com), was launched August 1, 2008.
To help set the GoCarverGo initiative in motion and encourage citizens to access the county's dynamic trail and park information, Carver County established the Trail and Recreation Information Portal (TRIP). TRIP, an interactive Web mapping application, enables citizens of Carver County to locate parks and trails utilizing an interactive GIS.
"This project serves as a great example of collaboration between a number of local government organizations," says Peter Henschel, GIS supervisor with Carver County. "It would not have been possible without other organizations providing information on trails, parks, and photo points to create an accurate countywide GIS."
To assist in the design and development of TRIP, Carver County enlisted the services of Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI), and Esri Business Partner GeoDecisions. Carver County selected HEI and GeoDecisions based on the team's project management approach. HEI and GeoDecisions proposed a six-phase technical approach, including requirements, design, application development, testing, deployment, and maintenance, with the last phase being the responsibility of Carver County. For officials at Carver County, this was very appealing because it gave the county control of future releases and modifications.
Prior to application development, key project stakeholders from Carver County and the HEI and GeoDecisions team attended a joint application design (JAD) session to discuss the goals of TRIP, as well as desired functionality and software requirements. One of the primary goals of the portal identified during the JAD session was to develop a simple yet effective mapping application. Because the majority of the portal's targeted audience has little or no GIS experience, the design had to minimize the number of tools and "clutter," as well as present the data in a concise and cartographically appealing manner.
TRIP can be accessed at gis.co.carver.mn.us/TRIP/launch.htm. The portal provides a variety of Web-based mapping functionality, including
GoCarverGo has received acclaim from various stakeholders throughout the southwestern Twin Cities metropolitan area. According to Henschel: "We have received very positive feedback from our community partners who assisted with data collection. There is already talk of making enhancements to the application and adding more recreational features maintained within our GIS database, thereby giving users more opportunities to become active in their communities."
For more information, contact Peter Henschel, GIS supervisor, Carver County (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org); Brian Jensen, project manager, GeoDecisions (e-mail: email@example.com); or Brian Fischer, project manager, Houston Engineering (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).