The advent of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology has changed the way governmental and private agencies approach decision-making and analysis tasks. Although GIS has been in existence for many years, decreases in cost coupled with increases in capabilities have combined to make these systems more attractive to all levels of government and business. A geographic information system can be thought of in its most basic configuration as an automated mapping and database system. Spatial overlay of different map layers allows comprehensive analysis of difficult problems. For example, soils information can be overlaid with water resources, geology, topography, transportation, and other characteristics in an analysis of potential landfill sites. Such applications of GIS are not only technologically advanced compared to manual methods, but also offer considerable savings in cost and time required for analysis.

BCGIS is a regional geographic information resource that provides for the business needs of Berkeley County Government, Berkeley County GIS Consortium, and the public. The BCGIS Consortium consists of Berkeley County, Berkeley County Water and Sanitation, Berkeley Electric Cooperative, Berkeley County Soil and Water Conservation District, Berkeley County School District, Home Telecom, the City of Goose Creek, the City of Hanahan, the Town of Moncks Corner, and Santee Cooper. They combined to fund a comprehensive County GIS Department that became functional in April of 1994. All consortium members have access to data and GIS products, such as the annually updated Street Atlas. Members maintain their own data and exchange updated information as changes occur. This helps maintain system cost efficiencies and eliminate duplication of data.

The GIS Department maintains and updates more than 600 digital data layers such as parcels, physical address points, zoning, political boundaries, and street centerlines. BCGIS also provides custom map development, applications development, data development, and GIS training. Digital and hard copy map requests by County staff, Consortium members, and the public are provided for as well.

Berkeley County serves as the primary GIS database repository and administrative site providing services for remote users. The comprehensive Enterprise GIS system utilizes Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (ESRI) suite of software products including ArcGIS and is based on data servers and PC workstations utilizing Microsoft Windows operating systems which provides a common platform for data collection and storage.  The ESRI GIS system combines the work flow of respective departments and disseminates information for the benefit of all.  Peripheral hardware include several large format HP DesignJet color inkjet plotters, HP LaserJet color printers, a large format scanner, black & white copier, and hand-held GPS units.

BCGIS also supplies a mapping and data support component to other County department software systems.  Software such as EAM, Cityworks, EnerGov, and Southern Software all utilize GIS data and functionality.  GIS also supports various ArcMap services utilized by other GIS Consortium members and Government entities.  The various GIS layers have different update procedures and schedules.  Address points are edited real-time and updates are available immediately.  Many other GIS data layers are updated daily such as parcels, street centerlines and address ranges, zoning, and municipal boundaries and made available weekly.  Other GIS layers are updated as new information becomes available.  This data is also made available weekly.  Many County department staff have direct access to GIS functionality and data using the ArcGIS software.  GIS technology can be used to analyze just about any type of geographic information for countless applications.

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