Geospatial Business Spotlight: Bowne Management Systems

Company Name:         Bowne Management Systems, Inc.

Location:                     235 E. Jericho Turnpike, Mineola, NY  11501

Website:                      http://www.bownegroup.com

Employees:                 35

Established:               1982

Bowne Management Systems (BMS) is unique in the technology world as the firm has been in business since 1982.   2017 marks the 35th anniversary of BMS and they proudly state “we innovate every day.”

The collective team of professionals are not only fluent in IT and geospatial technology but in the core competencies of any business – professional project management, diverse and adaptable skill sets and most importantly, customer relationships and satisfaction.

BMS is associated with their affiliate, Sidney B. Bowne and Son, a nationally recognized civil engineering and surveying firm that has been in business in New York State since 1895. The shared corporate culture and values has kept Bowne in the forefront for almost 125 years.

BMS has developed core practices to support the mission critical operations of local government. This client base includes local government at all levels, as well as State and Federal government agencies, and private clients. BMS has core practices in the following areas:

  • Public Safety
  • Land Records and Tax Mapping
  • Infrastructure and Asset Management

In addition to these core practices, BMS has robust operations in the areas of IT Staffing and Governance, Geospatial Cloud Deployment, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Services, and Project Management and Oversight. Some recent notable work includes the following:

Support for New York City’s emergency  dispatch   systems   – BMS built the street center line (“City- wide Street Centerline” [CSCL]) and the required maintenance  system. BMS also built and maintains  the software that transforms CSCL data to the geofile format required  by the NYPD and FDNY dispatch systems. To date, also most 50 million e-911 calls have been successfully handled by CSCL and Bowne developed software.

BMS has been involved in the development of many tax parcel systems in NYS. This includes New York City, the counties of Nassau, Orange, Suffolk, Sullivan, Oneida, and Tompkins and many of municipalities in Westchester County.  BMS staff maintains parcels daily and continues to innovate and introduce new technology, such as ESRI’s Parcel Fabric, to the customer base.

The BMS infrastructure practice is a leader in NYS MS4 data collection. Recently the practice  led  the  effort to successfully complete  field work for the Sleepy Hollow Consortium in Westchester County, which encompassed 20+ separate municipalities and led to consistent data for most of the County’s drainage network.

BMS’ mobile development group builds applications for all of their core practices.  As illustrated above, a recent Mobile Mapping component was deployed for the East Hampton Village Police Department which complements the web based Computer Aided Dispatch Map Viewer, which displays calls for service in real-time.

As Portal technology, and the use of Cloud-based services and ESRI’s ArcGIS Online continues to grow, BMS has been at the forward edge deploying solutions using platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).  One recent experience is the Western Connecticut Council of Governments  (WCCOG)  represents 18 Connecticut municipalities.

To support WCCOG’s economic development and transportation planning efforts, BMS developed a central repository for WCOG’s GIS data, including both imagery and planimetric data and oblique photography. A client-facing portal using ESRI’s ArcGIS for Server and Portal for ArcGIS, as well as a map viewer,  the application provides extensive capabilities. The regional  base map and applications were developed using a modified version of ESRI’s Local Government Information Model. BMS deployed the GIS clearinghouse system architecture on the Cloud  utilizing  Amazon Web Services (AWS) assuring high reliability and low administrative overhead for the member municipalities of WCOG.

BMS is a qualified vendor under the New York State Office of General Services 73600 – Project Based Information Technology Consulting Services (PBITS) (Statewide), as well as the State of Vermont – Retainer Contract for IT Services: Enterprise GIS Services category. In addition, the firm has many local government contracts and and multiple Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) contract vehicles.

Contact:               Jim Hall, Vice President of Strategic Accounts

                               jhall@bownegroup.com

                               516-746-2350

 

Queensbury Geospatial: A Model for NYS Town Government GIS

Northbound New York State Northway Exit 20 leads to the Town of Queensbury which is the seat of Warren County.  With a 2010 population of 27,901 the town covers nearly 65-square miles including shoreline along Lake George and lands within the Adirondack Park.  Further into town, several of the usual NYS town government program offices are located at 742 Bay Road including staff and resources which support the town’s geographic information system (GIS).

GIS Background

Prior to 2002, Queensbury officials had worked with consultants to establish initial GIS capacity including the creation of ArcIMS applications and investing in multiple ESRI desktop licenses.  In 2002, the town’s GIS initiative changed significantly with the hiring of George Hilton.  Hired as a GIS Specialist and planner, George was brought onboard to build and advance the town’s  GIS program.

Prior to arriving in Queensbury, George had honed his GIS skills while a student at Central Connecticut State University and later in government positions  in the Denver and Kansas City areas as well as three years with Westchester County.  Now, 15-years after his arrival, George oversees a program which can be considered an exemplary NYS municipal government GIS program.

Current Queensbury Geospatial Products and Infrastructure        

George designs, codes and maintains the Town’s Interactive Mapper (Firefox and IE only) and a host of other ArcGIS.com map viewers including Fire and EMS, Planning and Zoning, and Phase II Stormwater Infrastructure.    He also supports emerging mobile mapping and data collection efforts which includes Trimble GPS units with Trimble Positions to collect data and update feature services and Geodatabases in the field.  The town also collects data (hydrant inspections, site inspections) with ArcGIS Collector using feature services and make maps available through ArcGIS Online.

The Town of Queensbury Interactive Mapper includes many locally developed datasets as well as data from other authoritative sources including Warren County, NewYork State and the Adirondack Park Agency.

The Town of Queensbury Interactive Mapper includes many locally developed datasets as well as data from other authoritative sources including Warren County, NewYork State and the Adirondack Park Agency.

Other software components – much of which has been self-taught – George uses inlcludes Sybase (RPS) and SQL Server with ArcSDE as well as ArcGIS Server, ArcSDE, ArcGIS (Advanced), and Spatial Analyst.  The town is currently at ArcGIS Server 10.22 and are testing 10.4 with plans to upgrade very soon.  He also works with QGIS and Global Mapper from time to time.  Global Mapper has been particularly helpful in importing updated USGS topo quads (DRGs) in GeoPDF format into our GIS.

The Queensbury GIS program has grown from primarily providing support to the Planning Department to becoming a very important resource for many departments across town government.  Both the Town Board and Town Supervisor are very supportive of GIS and recognize how much of an important tool GIS has become to the Town.

Parts of the Town of Queensbury is actually within the Adirondack Park and therefore subject to stringent land use regulations. This image highlights zoning districts on the southeastern shore of Lake George – within the park boundaries.

Parts of the Town of Queensbury is actually within the Adirondack Park and therefore subject to stringent land use regulations. This image highlights zoning districts on the southeastern shore of Lake George – within the park boundaries.

George maintains an excellent working relationship with Warren County GIS which is under the direction of Sara Frankenfeld where he obtains  parcel data.  The town creates town-wide datasets (zoning, subdivisions, hydrants, infrastructure, environmental, street centerlines, address points, etc) which are then shared back with the County. Referencing her ongoing GIS work with Queensbury, Sara explains:

“George is great to work with and especially in a rural environment where we don’t have any other full-time GIS staff within our respective local governments, it’s so helpful to have a colleague to bounce things off.  He’s a very good sounding board and when I’m considering starting a new project, I often call to get his thoughts.

 We’ve worked closely together on a number of projects.  We recently worked together to streamline the way e-911 addresses are assigned, and this has been a huge improvement to workflows in both of our offices, as well as in the Real Property office, the zoning/building inspectors departments, and the assessors’ offices

 Our current cooperative project is a NYS Archives LGRMIF grant funded project to make the SAM data, along with information about truss roofed structures (as required by a NYS law that went into effect 1/1/2015), and other relevant data such as hydrant locations, available to first responders via an Android/iOS app”.

George also works closely with several state agencies including the Adirondack Park Agency, NYS Parks and Historic Preservation, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and NYS Information Technology Services (ITS).  Queensbury Town Supervisor John Strough adds:

“Like today’s computers, I do not know how we lived without him. His GIS services have helped us map the town’s infrastructure structures, trail systems, historic places and many other location details that we absolutely need to comply with the needs of today’s municipal world. I am in his office requesting his services almost as often as am in my budget officer’s office, that’s how important GIS services have become to the town.

Broad User Base

The town enjoys a wide user base including ESRI desktop clients in Planning, Water and Sewer, Assessor, and Parks departments though George is commonly called upon to assist in more detailed data creation, analysis, and cartographic products throughout town government.  He also provides training for users in many local, regional and statewide agencies including the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York, and the NY State Conservation District Association at their statewide conference in Auburn and Syracuse.

Additionally, George provides maps and data analysis for many community groups, nonprofits, schools, as well as for other municipalities and quasi-governmental agencies in the area.   Queensbury if one of the few municipalities in the area with a GIS program and is often asked to provide support throughout the area.

Creating More Queensbury GIS Programs

While George brought years of GIS experience to the town when accepting  the job, his ability to advance the town’s GIS program has certainly been augmented by ongoing political and administrative support.  Such combination of experience, competitive salary, technical skills and political support is often hard to replicate –   or even find for that matter –  in small town governments across the Empire State.

The Town of Queensbury GIS program speaks to the importance of educating elected officials in the benefits and  importance of investing – both financially and institutionally –  in the role of geospatial technologies in small town governance.  While the Queensbury GIS solution might be considered a typical for similar-sized communities across the state, it nonetheless can be a model for the GIS community to aspire to and replicate.

Visit the Town of Queensbury website at http://www.queensbury.net or George Hilton directly at GeorgeH@queensbury.net.

 

10 Questions: David Bubniak

I’ve been going back and forth with David Bubniak for several months on doing a piece on his geospatial work and efforts with the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (STC) where he has worked for over a decade.  Covering three counties – Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben – David’s GIS work with STC covers many program areas. A lifelong Southern Tier resident, he and his wife and their two sons live in Waverly,  New York.  David can contacted at gisstc@stny.rr.com.

eSpatiallynewyork:  How long have you been with Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (STC)?

Bubniak:  I   started at STC in 2005 and worked here for a year. I left and went to work for James Sewall in the Elmira office (formally Weiler Mapping). I then returned to STC in 2008 and have been here since. Prior to STC, I worked for the Chemung County Metropolitan Planning Office (MPO)  in the early 90’s as a transportation GIS analyst. I then became the General Manager of Chemung County Transit. I then went back to doing GIS in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania for Northern Tier Regional Planning.  A good friend of mine is a surveyor and I worked with him on the side periodically over the years doing property surveys, deed research and construction layouts.  Those experiences have helped me significantly over the years understanding how to assist people with GIS. I am the only designated GIS person in STC office though we do have planners that use it often.

eSpatiallynewyork:  When did you start doing GIS work?

Bubniak: I started using GIS in 1993. I attended Mansfield University and graduated with a Geography degree with an emphasis in Planning. We used Atlas GIS for projects. I worked part time at the Chemung County Planning department right after I graduated in December 1994.  My first project was mapping senior citizen migration from rural areas back into the City of Elmira for the Department of Aging. When I started at the Executive Transportation Committee for Chemung County (Chemung County MPO) in 1995 I used Unix based  pcARC/INFO and AutoCad. I taught myself how to use both just by studying the manuals and using them for projects. I then started to use ArcView when it was released.

eSpatiallynewyork:  What GIS products do you now use/promote? 

Bubniak:  I use both web and desktop applications. I use ArcGIS server as well as ArcGIS online for my web apps. I do promote both web and desktop apps. I have people using ArcView, ArcReader and ArcGIS Explorer.  I have the Elmira Water Board using ArcGIS desktop with several departments accessing data over their network using ArcGIS Explorer (desktop). The Chemung County Stormwater Coalition uses a combination of ArcGIS online, local data, and data through ArcGIS server.

eSpatiallynewyork:  What agencies/organizations do you work with most closely?

Bubniak:  I do a lot of work for Chemung County departments and towns. I do get involved with the state from time to time. I function sort of as the GIS coordinator for Chemung County but not on formal basis. I work with the Stormwater Coalition, public works, Elmira Water Board, Real Property. I do work and assist several of the bigger towns in the county.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Tell us about the “Southern Tier Central Mapping Application for Local Governments”

Bubniak:  I have four basic parcel viewers. I have one for each county then one for the whole region. They all run the same data from a SQL database.  Chemung and Schuyler Counties connect their county sites to their SDG Imagemate Online application.  I have a Chemung County site tailored to soil and water, Public works and local code officials.  Many county departments and officials use it for their GIS. I have a bunch of project specific web apps I built using ArcGIS for Flash and Silverlight including one for the Keuka Lake Watershed,  a planning tool, and the Susquehanna-Chemung Action Plan.  Those apps utilize other public services and data to cover the whole area. It really depends on the application and the need.

eSpatiallynewyork:  In your capacity with STC, what professions do you work with the most on a day-to-day basis? 

Bubniak:  In addition to my daily responsibilities with TC, I work with several other (government, county, local governments, nonprofits, what?) disciplines including engineering, public works, planning/economic development,  transportation, code enforcement and emergency services.   In many respects and functions I serve as a GIS consultant (though not paid as one) to many organizations and governments across the three county region.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Making maps anymore or is everything online now?

Bubniak:  Mostly everything has gone online, though I still make maps from time to time.  Well designed hard copy maps are always still needed for meetings and discussions.  There is no substitute.

eSpatiallynewyork: From your perspective and experience in the Southern Tier, do you think decision makers and elected officials value GIS technology as a necessity or a “nice to have”?

Bubniak:  For many years it was a “nice to have” and called a cool technology toy.   Though more recently the culture and understanding of geospatial technology has changed within government and among elected officials to considering it much more as a “necessary” tool.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Assuming money and administrative support were in place, what are a couple cost effective (and needed) geospatial applications which you feel STC could develop and available for the three county area?

I would like to have an application or applications similar to how the Town of Southampton, NY is making GIS services available on their website.  They have a fee-based viewer (ePortal).   for Land Manger GIS that was presented at the last New York State GIS Conference.

eSpatiallynewyork:  So what’s next?  What are you working on now?

Bubniak:  Chemung County has just purchased an ELA license from ESRI. I am going to be designing, building multi-user databases and setting up applications for the county. We are going to be implementing a true enterprise system and get away from our current departmentalized GIS systems.

I am currently working on an application to allow  Elmira City Council members to report issues they want resolved. This will be done on tablets and cut out a huge amount of paper work and will bring in a geospatial component at the same time.

Eventually we plan on getting social services involved.   Once we get this off the ground and get things going we are going to look how to improve services in this area of government.  While at Sewall we designed a web application for social services to locate day cares, employers, transit routes and client locations which I believe has potential for regional and county governments.

 eSpatiallynewyork:  So what are you doing when you are not working?

Bubniak:  For many years I competed in power lifting but hurt my shoulder and don’t participate anymore.   I enjoy the outdoors and hunt.    We bought a starter home  many years ago and since then I’ve completely redone the house doing all of the plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, etc., myself.    It’s a great location on a dead end road and we own 40 acres.

Both of our boys – ages 9 and 14 – are involved in travel sports (baseball, track/cross country, Tae Kwon Do) so following them around to games and practices is one of our main “hobbies” now – which is all worth it.

2016 National Map (TNM) Products and Services for the Empire State

For almost ten years, The National Map viewer has served as one of the more prominent and visible products of the of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Geospatial Program (NGP).  It represents a significant collaborative effort between the USGS and other Federal, State, and local partners in disseminating  nationwide geospatial data, and where available, content from state and local sources as well.

The National Map is easily accessible for display through a web viewer and boasts a rich catalog of map services which can be consumed by and augments a wide range of browser viewing clients.  It now includes the “new” viewer (the original TNM viewer will be retired this year) which provides users with access to geospatial datasets, geographic names, the Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC), and the increasingly popular post-2009 US Topo quadrangle product – all for easy access and download.    US Topo maps are modeled on the familiar 7.5-minute quadrangle maps of the period 1947-1992, but are mass-produced from national GIS databases on a three-year cycle.

Selected TNM viewer functions which can be used by the New York State geospatial community will be highlighted in  the  following  sections  including an update on two of NGP’s  most current and visible  projects –  the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) and National Hydrography Dataset (NHD).  Both of which are made available in the TNM viewer.  If you’re not familiar with the National Map viewer, an easy way to get started is by using newly released USGS TNM tutorials.

3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Continue reading

Rochester GIS Scholars

GIS Scholars is a Rochester community-based youth program, serving ages 14-21, which started in 2012 at a small neighborhood agency.  Its origin can be traced back to as early as 1988,  when under the support of Joseph Becker,  who at the time was  employed with  the City of Rochester Bureau of Planning,  started a program which provided local youth the opportunity to learn and work with GIS technology by establishing training and employment opportunities.

Since 2014, the GIS Scholars program has collaborated with the Rochester City School District’s Schools Without Walls (SWW) to begin to integrate geospatial learning into overall educational offerings.   In addition to providing office and administrative support, SWW continues to occupy an important role in the Scholars initiative towards helping identify students as potential candidates for the GIS program.  While the relationship with SWW continues, Monroe Community College (MCC) has more recently become a major sponsor of the Scholars program by donating office, administrative, and computing space at their downtown Rochester Damon City Center facility. Additional volunteers, financial donations, as well equipment and software donations from companies such as ESRI, continue to support the underlying purpose of the program.  One Scholar has already completed the Digital World course and two have started the Business GIS course thanks to a donation to the MCC Foundation. Continue reading

Reflections on NYGeoCon 2013

The 2013 New York State GIS conference was held November 12-13, 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Organized by the NYS GIS Association, this is the first year the state conference has been rebranded as NYGeoCon which will be held alternating years with the Geospatial Summit.  With conference registration topping 300, including students, single day attendees, and vendors, the two-day event included a wide range of topics including nearly 30 individual presentations and a dozen workshops/panel discussions.    Among the many topics offered –  mobile technology, shared services, and open data themes – were common conversation points throughout the conference.  The conference also included special efforts to involve college students and contained an Education Tract highlighting statewide higher education GIS instructors.  Conference vendor support was equally impressive with 19 companies exhibiting during the course of the conference.

Beyond the normal opening day conference welcome by out-going NYS GIS Association President Al Leidner and the usual “State of the State” presentation by NYS GIO Bill Johnson, the conference began in earnest with an impressive keynote presentation by Jack Levis who is known to many as “the United Parcel Service (UPS) guy” in the Penn State Public Broadcasting production The Geospatial Revolution.  Levis has keynoted at other GIS/location-based conferences over the past several months presenting the company business message about how UPS used to be a trucking company that used technology, but is now a technology company that happens to use trucks.  His presentation focused on how UPS uses data (much of which is mobile gathered) to support enterprise descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics in helping build and refine the UPS delivery model.  Interestingly, Levis feels, in general, much of the available digital street center line files (public/commercial) still need updating and improvement.  It was an excellent presentation which had a major underlying geospatial component.  Levis fielded several questions from the audience after the presentation.  Both the conference welcome and Levis presentation are available for viewing on the conference homepage.

The annual business meeting of the NYS GIS Association, which was held at lunch on the second day of the conference, demonstrated the tremendous growth of the Association as an independent, professional voice and presence in statewide geospatial programs.  The nearly hour-long meeting included several committee reports (Membership, Communications, Conference, Legislative, Private Sector, Education, Regional Groups, and Professional Development) as well as general discussion on issues such as GISP certification, types of membership (professional/associate, etc.) and collective efforts for continued growth and influence across the state.  One of the more impressive statistics taken from the meeting was that nearly one-third of the nearly 500 members of the Association are from the private sector.  A very encouraging number which suggests, for now, that New York State geospatial business and industry representatives are  supporting the underlying efforts and long-term goals of the Association.  The business meeting also included the introduction of incoming President Julie Tolar (Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority) and President-Elect Susan Nixson (City of Ithaca), as well as three new Board members:  Rich Quodomine (NYS DOT), Julia O’Brien (FEMA Region 2) and Mickey Dietrich (Tug Hill Commission).

Looking forward, the Association will hopefully continue to align its professional and conference efforts with like-minded statewide professional organizations which leverage geospatial technologies.  Overall, the 2013 event should be considered a success given ongoing struggles in attendance at similar geospatial conferences in the Northeast.  One of the few speed bumps the conference hit was placing the ESRI Sponsor Workshop – against other ongoing presentations – in the very last time slot of the conference which resulted in woefully poor attendance.  As a conference Platinum Sponsor, ESRI was deserving of much better placement on the agenda.

Kudos to the NYS GIS Association conference committee in organizing the successful 2013 NYGeoCon.  We look forward to the 2014 Geospatial Summit.