Study finds GIS potential at HUD

The Housing and Urban Development Department is uniquely positioned in the federal government to tap detailed, up-to-date information about local needs and conditions, according to a National Research Council committee.

But HUD needs to develop an overall spatial data infrastructure to carry out its mission to increase home-ownership, support community development, and make housing affordable and free from discrimination, the committee's report said.

Departmental efforts to use geographic information systems have been hampered by lack of technical input, unclear lines of responsibility, dissemination of GIS data on CD-ROM rather than online, and varying levels of technical proficiency among headquarters and field office staff, the committee said.

HUD's current spatial data initiatives include Community 20/20, E-Maps for environmental programs, R-Maps for researching HUD housing programs, and EGIS for combining Census, Environmental Protection Agency and other agency data.

Easier access to spatially accurate local information could prove invaluable for homeland security, the research committee said, by identifying vulnerable communities and helping them prepare emergency plans.

'Because of HUD's relationships with local communities and community groups, it can introduce local priorities into national dialogs, and can encourage providers of local data to meet national standards for inclusion in the National Spatial Data Infrastructure,' the report said.

'GIS for Housing and Urban Development' is online.

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