n North Carolinas "Technology
Town" of Cary, most of the staff have GIS
software on their
desktops and many use it for viewing and analyzing geographical data on a daily basis.
Mike Mull, as Applications Manager for the town of 107,000 people, can point to a myriad
of ways GIS is utilized: displays at Town Council and Town board meetings, routing trash
pickup, analyzing sewer problems, forming police beats, tracking streetlights, planning
roads, siting greenways, and many other situations where data is needed for informed
"We have GIS in every department," Mull says. "About three years ago we
free viewer on the police and fire departments mobile data computers to provide
them with location information. We have over 100 vehicles with GIS capability."
Jennifer Morgan, Carys police crime analyst, uses GIS in various ways, from
pinpointing crime sites to realigning police beats. In one case she used GIS data showing
past trends to predict potential times of crime attempts resulting in a successful police
Since 1996, GIS has played a major role in Carys response to natural disasters,
such as hurricanes, ice storms, and snow storms. "GIS helps make hurricane and snow
cleanup more efficient," Mull says. "We set up "Storm Command" at our
Public Works and Utilities (PWU) facility to manage our resources during these events.
Staff take trouble calls and enter addresses of downed trees or impassable streets. Then
PWU supervisors can map problems and assign crews immediately." Cary, working in
cooperation with Wake County, began using GIS in May 1989.
Mull came on board in October of 1989 from the Wake County public school system where he
had been using GIS mainly with student reassignment and school bus route optimization. In
the early 90s, the town purchased the MapInfo GIS to display and query data files at
a reasonable cost. This put aerial photos, property, zoning, land use, growth plans,
water, sewer, storm drainage and many other data layers at employees finger tips.
About three years ago Cary decided to put GIS on the Web so citizens could view
information about property, utilities, zoning, voting, development, and parks and
recreation. Cary chose to hire Anderson & Associates
to host their GIS website (http://arcims2.webgis.net/nc/cary)
rather than maintain it in house, which would incur extra software, hardware, and
Mull has been working with GIS since 1979, when he mapped timber stands for the US Forest Service while in graduate school at North Carolina State Universitys School of Forest Resources. After
stints at private GIS firms and Wake County Schools, he began managing Carys GIS
operation 14 years ago. &