Isaacson Lauds University Smart Mapping Project (G.I.N.A.)
North Pole Rep to Champion Expansion of G.I.N.A. during session, presented to University of Alaska Board of Regents Friday
Monday, December 16, 2013, North Pole, Alaska – Representative Doug Isaacson attended the University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting Thursday in Fairbanks to support the continued funding, work and expansion of the Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA).
“The project is really phenomenal,” Isaacson, R-North Pole, said. “I was glad to give a presentation in support to the Board. I believe, with further refinement and even more inclusiveness it can be a top-notch product and tool for policymakers.
“People are familiar with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) thanks to Google Earth and mapping programs used in cars and on smartphones,” Isaacson said. “By using this smart mapping technology policymakers will be able to make more informed decisions and prioritize where to build roads, how to connect communities, and link energy sources to mines. I’m encouraging them to put more of these layers online so we can all utilize this information.”
Reminiscent of the game “connecting the dots” Isaacson sees the map data providing the dots. “Then when we connect them we will see what the future of Alaska looks like,” Isaacson said.
Article VIII of Alaska’s Constitution directs the state to “encourage the settlement of the land and the development of its resources by making them available for maximum use consistent with the public interest.” Isaacson says these maps will help lawmakers live up to that clause, prioritize spending and create a sustainable economy. The Mapping Alaska for a Self-Supporting Economy (MAFSEE) will use large-scale maps with multiple information layers that can be piled on top of or peeled away from each other in order to see how various elements affect one another. For instance, access to a large mineral deposit may be seemingly blocked by land ownership issues from connecting to a nearby town’s reliable labor force, but another map might show there is a state right of way across that land, and another map might show that there is geothermal energy available nearby. “Seeing it makes it much easier to understand the issues at hand,” Isaacson said. “I’m convinced we will be able to invest our precious state dollars in a more prudent and fiscally sound manner if we do this.”
Funding from 11 different partners provides GINA the ability to attract and retain some of the best satellite imaging and mapping programmers available. Tom Heinrichs, Director of the GINA project, is looking for $500,000 over the next three years to create new online maps that will provide a more sophisticated analysis of the ground surface showing minerals, vegetation, soils and permafrost. This will supplement and bring together maps layers already available showing minerals, land ownership, roads and trails, and known energy. This request, Isaacson believes, will have a tremendous Return on Investment (ROI) to the state in both revenue and jobs.
For more information about GINA, go to http://www.gina.alaska.edu/