With assistance from a Community Compact Information Technology grant, eight South Shore towns this past spring updated their GIS data by conducting a regional flyover.

Up-to-date GIS data is of high value to municipal assessors and land use boards to create the basemap used to evaluate all land parcels in town. Updating the data can be cost-prohibitive, however. The towns of Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Hanover, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield, Middleborough and Plymouth joined efforts to share in the cost.

The flyover to gather updated “digital orthophotography” was secondary to a project kicked off by the Old Colony Regional GIS Collaborative, a South Shore regional IT group that meets regularly, to update GIS software being used by the towns in the collaborative. During the process, members consulted with assessors to look at and evaluate options.

“We started looking at software, but as we did that the communities insisted having the flyover would improve the project,” said Duxbury IT Director Mary Beth MacQuarrie, a member of the collaborative. “Flyover is much more expensive. … It is much more cost effective for each community if you can bring in neighboring communities to share in the cost of the plane taking off.”

The cost for the flyover completed in April during “leaf-off” conditions was $160,000. With a grant for $146,000, communities were responsible for only $13,825. Participating communities were able to update their digital orthophotography at considerable savings.

“When you do these community grants you need a host community to accept the funds, which Duxbury did,” MacQuarrie said. “But it would never have gotten off the ground without everyone on the committee.”

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