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Frequently Asked GIS Questions

GIS Header
  • What is GIS?Blue GIS Logo

  • What are the Top 5 Benefits of GIS?

  • What can you do with GIS?

  • Where do I obtain Tax Assessor Plat/Parcel Maps?

  • What GIS Technology does Newport use?

  • How is Newport's data Projected?

  • How often is the data updated?

  • Can I download Newport's GIS data?

  • I was hoping to do some land property ownership research using your Assessor's parcel data, where can I find land evidence records on-line?

  • I see the data layers available in the layers menus of your public portal maps, but I did not see the layer I was looking for. Do you have additional data other than what I see there?

  • Is there a fee for obtaining copies of City GIS data files?

  • What City of Newport datasets are publicly available by request?


Q: What is GIS?

A: A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.

A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.

It’s important to think of a GIS as a whole system including the following:

  • computers, plotters and other hardware;
  • commercial GIS software (ESRI is the state standard) and possibly customized applications;
  • digital data – mapping of features like roads, boundaries, parcels, aerial photos;
  • trained staff who manage the system and support end-users

GIS technology can provide cities and towns with significant benefits: greater transparency and access by citizens; more effective asset management; improved delivery of services; the ability to visualize current status and to plan for future projects. 


Q: What are the Top 5 Benefits of GIS?

A:

Cost Savings and Increased Efficiency

GIS is widely used to optimize maintenance schedules and daily fleet movements. Typical implementations can result in a savings in operational expenses through reduction in fuel use and staff time, improved customer service, and more efficient scheduling.

Better Decision Making

GIS is the go-to technology for making better decisions about location. Common examples include real estate site selection, route/corridor selection, evacuation planning, conservation, natural resource extraction, etc. Making correct decisions about location is critical to the success of an organization.

Improved Communication

GIS-based maps and visualizations greatly assist in understanding situations and in storytelling. They are a type of language that improves communication between different teams, departments, disciplines, professional fields, organizations, and the public.

Better Record keeping

Many organizations have a primary responsibility of maintaining authoritative records about the status and change of geography. GIS provides a strong framework for managing these types of records with full transaction support and reporting tools.

Managing Geographically

GIS is becoming essential to understanding what is happening—and what will happen—in geographic space. Once we understand, we can prescribe action. This new approach to management—managing geographically—is transforming the way that organizations operate.


Q: What can you do with GIS?

A: 

  • Map Where Things Are
  • Map Quantities
  • Map Densities
  • Find What's Nearby
  • Map Change

Q: Where do I obtain Tax Assessor Plat/Parcel Maps?

A: Plat and Lot data can be found in the Property Information Map in the GIS Public Portal; printable pdf versions of the Tax Assessor’s Plat Maps can be found on the “Maps and Plans” City web page (http://cityofnewport.com/departments/planning-development/maps-and-plans); physical copies of the Plat maps for inspection and reproduction prints are available in the Tax Assessor’s and Zoning & Inspections Offices (printed reproductions are subject to a fees as listed in the above named offices).


Q: What GIS Technology does Newport use?

A: The City uses Esri's ArcGIS suite of GIS software.

The GIS is maintained by GIS staff, part of the GIS Division of the Civic Investment Department; and hosted and administered by City contractor Critigen, LLC. Dedicated staff includes one GIS Coordinator reporting to the Director of Civic Investment. Secondary GIS staff, those whose primary job function is not GIS, include one (1) Zoning GIS staffer, two (2) Water GIS staffers, and one (1) Public Works GIS staffer.


Q: How is Newport's data projected?

A: Newport's GIS data is projected utilizing the Rhode Island State Plane (feet) North American Datum of 1983 projected coordinate system, with the following specifications:

GIS Projection Information Graphic


Q: How often is the data updated?

A: GIS data updates are performed daily as city functions, such as water distribution, sewer collection, developmental reviews, building & zoning inspections, etc., trigger updates. It is the City's goal to keep the GIS database as close to real-time as possible.

Base map orthography in Newport’s public GIS portal is provided by outside hosted service providers and is updated at their discretion. The City’s datasets that are produced and updated based on use of orthographic data are currently being updated to the most current orthographic data available through the State’s RIGIS database (www.rigis.org), which as of the writing of this text is a dataset from 2014.

Address data is sourced from the State’s e911 database, available through RIGIS, which produces quarterly updates of the State-wide datasets. The City of Newport provides a clipped version of the State dataset that includes all Aquidneck Island data points, and updates the clipped file every 6 months.

The links to the Vision Appraisal Database in the Property Information map in the GIS public portal are subject to updates by Vision Appraisal, as directed by the Tax Assessor’s Office. While every attempt is made to keep the information as up to date as possible, if using the property ownership data for legal purposes, an official information request should be made to the Tax Assessor’s Office to ensure the most up to date and accurate property ownership data.


Q: Can I download Newport's GIS data?

A: Currently Newport has not enabled the ability to download files from the GIS public portal, but it is a planned function for a future update. Individuals with ESRI ArcGIS Online accounts can access City of Newport datasets to add to their maps through the City’s Gallery. The City provides many more datasets through the Gallery than only those available through the 5 public maps on the GIS public portal gallery. When searching for official City of Newport ArcGIS Online datasets, only those datasets authored by GISadmin@NewportRI are official City of Newport datasets.


Q: I was hoping to do some land property ownership research using your Assessor's parcel data, where can I find land evidence records on-line?

A: In the Property Information map, you will find links to the current Tax Assessor ownership data as hosted by Vision Appraisal, Newport’s contracted vendor (http://gis.vgsi.com/newportri/).

Property chain of title cards can be found on the City’s website through the Finance Department page, click “Assessing Division”, and then “Chain of Title Cards”, the click on the “Chain of Title” tab at the top of the page for access without a log in, or go to: https://www.usdpw.com/NewportRI/TRecordList.aspx for a direct link.

The City Clerk’s Office has made Land Evidence records from 1910 to the present available through a web portal. A planned future update will include all scanned records prior to 1910, at present a planned release date has not been set. Land Evidence records can be found on the City’s website through the City Clerk’s Office web page, click “Property Records”, and then click “Grantor Grantee Index”, or go to: https://i2f.uslandrecords.com/RI/Newport/D/Default.aspx for a direct link.


Q: I see the data layers available in the layers menus of your public portal maps, but I did not see the layer I was looking for. Do you have additional data other than what I see there?

A: Each of the 5 public portal maps contains additional available data layers that do not immediately display when opening the map. The layers that automatically display by default were determined to be the most requested layer for each map, but we have made other relevant layers available at the user’s discretion through the layers feature in each map.

If you still cannot find a particular layer, you can access more publicly available data layers the City’s “Gallery”. If you have an ESRI ArcGIS Online account and wish to add City of Newport data layers to your map, when searching for official City of Newport layers, only those authored by “GISadmin@NewportRI are official City data layers.

Click HERE for a table listing the City of Newport’s current publicly available datasets.

If you wish to download City of Newport datasets, currently that option is not available through the GIS ArcGIS Online portal. This option is planned for a future update to the portal, but a date for that update has not yet been determined. Notice of that update will be reflected here, and an announcement will be made on the GIS Mapping Service web page (http://cityofnewport.com/departments/civic-investment-planning/gis-mapping-services).

For copies of City of Newport data shapefiles, submit an email request stating the desired dataset, to the GIS Coordinator at mbarker@cityofnewport.com, or click HERE to submit a request. For a listing of publicly available datasets, click the link above. If you are a City contractor, please submit your data request through the appropriate contracted Department contact, and they will forward the request to the GIS coordinator.


Q: Is there a fee for obtaining copies of City GIS data files?

A: Currently, there is no adopted fee schedule to obtain City of Newport GIS data. In an effort to improve access to public City information, no fees are being charged for City data at this time. This may change in the future, and is at the discretion of the City of Newport’s City Council. Future additions of data-based value-added applications may be subject to proposed fee schedules, but currently, no such plans exist.


Q: What City of Newport datasets are publicly available by request?

A: Click HERE for a table listing the City of Newport’s current publicly available datasets.