GLADSTONE - The Gladstone City Commission approved a plan to purchase geographic information system software at its Monday night meeting. It will allow both city employees and the public to access information about the city.
GIS software allows for information to be layered onto a map. Users can view information overlays or click on specific points on a map to view data.
"You can use it for anything, any kind of public information, as long as there's a spot on the globe that it's attached to," said Commissioner Joe Maki. "I've seen systems that would actually show you the size of leaves on boulevard trees. Boulevard trees are, of course, owned by the public so that's public information."
The mPower Integrator software has been used in other cities and counties in the area including the cities of Escanaba and Norway, the Marquette Board of Light & Power, Marinette County and Florence County.
In Escanaba, the software helps law enforcement keep sex offenders out of the 1,000 foot radius around schools. "It pinpoints that thousand foot radius, so it works well. That's just one application," said Mayor Darin Hunter.
Public safety vehicles in Gladstone and throughout the county are making the switch to in-car data terminals, which would have access to the city's GIS system.
"When you get a fire call and you try to remember exactly where those hydrants are at, it's nice if you can pull it right up and there it is," said Hunter.
Users who log into the system would have access only to what the city felt was safe, public knowledge.
"There's so many different levels to it. People internally could get to everything if we wanted them to and the public would only have access to what we give them," said Adam Zimmermann, GIS and sanitation operator.
Money has been budgeted for the city to purchase the system for some time.
"We've been putting $25,000 a year into this budget and we'll keep on doing that," said Public Works Superintendent Barry Lund.
In other business, the commission discussed the comments made on resident surveys mailed out earlier this year. City Manager Darla Falcon has sorted the comments and the commissioners will be reading them individually.
"I'm always open for a public forum and explain openly to these citizens what some of their concerns are. They may have some concerns that I wasn't aware of, or the commission wasn't aware of, and we try to address them the best we can," said Hunter.
The commission also expressed displeasure at a failed amendment in the Michigan State House of Representatives that would have capped the amount of money legislators received in retirement benefits.
"We have done the things that we have to do because we don't have a choice. We don't have this big money tree," said Commissioner Matt Gay. "I think maybe someone needs to explain to them that there is no money tree. I don't know where you guys come up with this idea, but we here at the local level realize this and we have to make changes."
Hunter likened the House to a powerful union.
"You hear about all the strong unions and trying to fix the strong unions in the state of Michigan, and as far as I'm concerned the strongest union right now is the legislators," said Hunter.
"The unions that need a defeat are the ones that are sitting in the House in Lansing," he added.