2015 SAG Award Winners

Wisconsin Legislative Technology Services Bureau

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Project Goal

Wisconsin local and legislative redistricting is mandated by our state's constitution to use U.S. Census tabulated geography for creating districts. Due to Wisconsin’s poor participation rate in the U.S. Census Boundary Annexation Survey (BAS) program, the Census TIGER municipality lines do not reflect Wisconsin’s current municipal boundaries.

Therefore, a workflow was needed to facilitate up-to-date and accurate data transfer from the local level to the federal level. We developed a desktop and web-based GIS platform known as “Wise-Decade” to host the BAS system. Wise-Decade streamlines the process for local municipalities to submit their boundary data to the U.S. Census Bureau. This application allows users to automatically create and attribute boundary changes, filter for required geographic tolerances, assist in finding annexations unknown to the U.S. Census Bureau, and enter the required BAS documentation.
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Business Problem Solved

With our GIS application, local governments can now submit data to the U.S. Census Bureau without dedicating a large amount of time and expense. It also allows the user to submit data from within their current GIS platform without learning additional software or acquiring additional packages or extensions.

We worked with U.S. Census Bureau BAS program leads and their technical staff to ensure the output from the tool was approved. The original desktop version of the tool was released in time for the 2013 BAS cycle; increasing BAS participation from 14% up to 40%. On January 15, 2015, the web-based version of the tool was released as a pilot program for county GIS leaders. We received data covering 59 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin, or 91% of the state’s population.

Additionally, our GIS application will create the first accurate statewide ward and municipal layer for Wisconsin. These layers will serve as the official source data for state and local agencies.

Technology Implemented

ArcGIS for Server, ArcSDE, ArcGIS API for JavaScript, ArcObjects SDK for the Microsoft .NET Framework, ArcPy for Python

The WISE Decade web system, which hosts the BAS web application, leverages several Esri technologies throughout its operation. The web mapping portion of the utility uses the Esri ArcGIS API for JavaScript to navigate services produced by ArcGIS for Server. The services are produced via a Python script that utilizes Esri’s ArcPy library. ArcSDE only provides read-only resource data used during the BAS processing. Any results or input data are written, and subsequently read, directly within SQL Server without ArcSDE, taking advantage of SQL Server spatial types.

By far, the most heavily utilized Esri product is ArcObjects SDK for the Microsoft .NET Framework. The applications that process, archive and create the required datasets for BAS are built entirely in VB.NET, leveraging ArcObjects.

Development Team Biography

Tony Van Der Wielen has served the Wisconsin Legislature as the GIS Manager for the past 16 years. He is responsible for coordinating the technological aspects of state and local redistricting, performing the required duties as the liaison to the Census Bureau, and managing daily GIS operations. He holds a degree in Physical/Environmental Geography from UW-Whitewater and a master’s degree in GIS from Penn State.

Ryan Squires graduated from UW-Whitewater in GIS, and began his career with ESRI in Redlands. For the last 5 years he has been lead GIS developer with the Wisconsin Legislature.

Grace White graduated from UW-Madison with degrees in GIS/Cartography and Geography. She has served the Wisconsin Legislative as the lead GIS Analyst and Cartographer since 2014.

Dave Evans graduated from UW-Madison Soils Department and first learned GIS, spatial analysis and programming while working in environmental science. He joined the GIS team at LTSB in May of 2015.