Putting Public Information Online

Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - Did you ever need information on a piece of property? Or have you been curious about how utility bill history in your home?

Most of this information can be made with a call or trip to the county courthouse or city hall, but as Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb learns, Alcoa, Maryville, and Blount County are combining forces, to make it easier for you to get that information online.

It's called a Geographic Information System, or GIS, and it began some eight years ago between Alcoa, Maryville, and Blount County with fiber optic connections.

"Today we've got about probably 22 public buildings tied together from the library to the courthouse to the justice center," says Maryville City Manger Greg McClain

Now, the governments are putting together all their databases from property to utilities, to schools in the system where all the same information is available to them.

"And to be able to have that data shared in a partnership keeps us from having to make calls or go over there. We simply pull it up on the database," McClain says.

As databases are added, the system becomes stronger in what it can do. Today, the program is using mapped streets of Alcoa and Maryville to coordinate stop lights to benefit residents.

"The goal is to reduce the idle time, keep traffic moving, and hopefully reduce air pollution," says Ray Boswell, the GIS Manager.

Today they are also mapping and including in the database storm drainage. So in the case of a toxic spill, the information can be used to determine placement of barriers.

"Public works, highway department, and emergency response would all be able to utilize that information," Boswell says.

While the GIS system is doing a lot to help government help you....the goal is to make much of the public information you need available.

"Have them go to a website and have them do look ups such as what school am I zoned to go to," explains Boswell.

McClain says they hope one day for the need to go to City Hall to be a thing of the past whether it's obtaining permits, or getting utility histories.

While some of the programs functions are available for governmental use, McClain says it will still be several years before residents will be able to access the system for all personal information.