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A discussion about a proposed geographic information system, GIS, for the city of Centralia livened and lengthened the Dec. 3 meeting of the Centralia Board of Aldermen’s Public Works and Public Utilities Committee meeting.
GIS is a computerized mapping system that uses GPS point data and integrates it into a multi layered mapping system, so all systems such as water, sewer and underground electric lines, among others are accurately represented for precise location purposes.
It boiled down to a choice between using free, open-source software and the city purchasing GIS equipment and having city employees map out the cities various utility lines as time permitted, or paying a company to professionally GIS map the city using their own equipment, trained full-time professionals and proprietary software.
City administrator Lynn Behrns recommended using a firm, with an initial start-up cost of $78,500. Citing the concerns of Ward I’s David Wilkins regarding open source software, Behrns said it would be best for the city to retain the Midland firm to perform the whole project.
“Nobody is obligated to service or maintain open-source software once it’s out there,” Behrns said. “If there are glitches, nobody out there is obliged to repair the software.”
Ward III’s Farris Sanders asked if Behrns had any cost estimates from cities that had used open source anyway.
“How do we know it won’t save us money if we don’t even have a cost,” Sanders said.
For the rest of the article, please see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.