Links to other key pages about MetroGIS history and structure:
MetroGIS is a multi-participant, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
initiative. It is helping local governments and other organizations serving the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul
Metropolitan Area more effectively carry out their business operations and manage costs through sharing data and
collaboratively addressing other common GIS-related needs.
The goal of MetroGIS is to institutionalize data sharing so its stakeholders
can easily obtain accurate and reliable data they need from others in the form they need it, to carry out their
business functions. A broadly participatory process was used to achieve consensus on a variety of matters critical to
the success of MetroGIS, including a mission statement,
priority functions (also referred to as "products and services"
beginning with the 2002 Business Planning efforts), and identifying priority common
business information needs; needs which are both critical to internal business operations and which they are
dependent on others for the data to address them. These common information needs include data relating to property,
jurisdictional boundaries, land use, water features, roads, addresses, socio-demographics, and others. MetroGIS
conducted its research independent of that of the National
Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and found significant similarities.
Since its beginnings in 1995, several hundred people representing a wide variety of agencies and organizations
have been involved in the decision-making process that has shaped
MetroGIS. These organizational interests include counties; cities; metropolitan, state, and federal agencies; school
districts; watershed districts; non-profit groups; private organizations; utilities; research organizations; education
professionals, and private citizens.
Immediately following the July 11, 2001 Policy Board meeting, three initiatives were launched to enhance
MetroGIS's functionality. The first, MetroGIS's Internet
Enabled Data Distribution Mechanism project (now known as MetroGIS DataFinder Café), was completed,
providing a state-of-art-data distribution mechanism. The second, "second generation" data
sharing agreements were secured with each of the seven metro area counties to supercede the Interim GIS Data and Cost
Sharing Agreements that expired December 31, 2001. (Note: the second generation agreements expired December 31, 2003.
The third generation agreements, which are proposed to have a 5-year term, were in the process receiving approval from
the seven county boards in January 2004. Click here for more information about each of the
data sharing agreements.) And third, a Performance Measures
Program was instituted to ensure that MetroGIS is accomplishing its goals and meeting the needs of the MetroGIS
The emphasis during this phase is to implement solutions to each of the remaining
initial priority business information needs, identify any additional information
needs for which the MetroGIS desires a regional solution, foster institutional connectivity with the reminder of
Minnesota in terms of meeting common business information needs, enhance MetroGIS's regional data solutions, and
enhance MetroGIS DataFinder to remain consistent with the geospatial needs of the MetroGIS community.
Phase II, design of the desired form and function of MetroGIS, officially began with the May 16, 1996 Advisory
Team Kick-Off Forum. This phase was completed on July 11, 2001 with the conclusion of MetroGIS's Regional Parcel Data
Four advisory teams (data access, data content, policy, and data standards) were created by the Coordinating
Committee in March and April 1996 to help it address the many issues and needs identified at the Strategic Planning
Retreat. These needs were consolidated by the Committee into five strategic
projects and assigned to the advisory teams for recommended courses of actions. (These advisory teams are no longer
active. Please see the Dissolved Teams page for more information
MetroGIS adopted its first Business Plan
on April 27, 2000. Subsequently, on June 14, 2000, the Metropolitan Council approved a statement of intent to continue
its support of MetroGIS's coordination functions through 2003. With this acceptance by the Council of MetroGIS's
Business Plan, MetroGIS achieved critical longer-term financial support and moved closer to a mature operational phase.
On July 11, 2001, the Policy Board directed, on the basis of the findings of MetroGIS's Regional Parcel Data
Pilot Project that: 1) Policy Board's pursuance of a regional parcel dataset, 2) pursuance of a state-of-the-art
mechanism to distribute parcel and other geospatial data via the Internet, and 3) continuation of MetroGIS's
unincorporated organizational structure as adequate to achieve all of the functions desired of MetroGIS by the MetroGIS
By this time, actual solutions had been implemented for four of the five Phase II strategic design projects
identified during the definition phase, and required foundation policies were essentially in place for the fifth -
priority business information needs. Although detailed data specifications and custodial responsibilities remained to
be adopted for several of the regional priority business information needs, the policies required were dataset-specific
rather than institutional in nature. Consequently, emphasis shifted to acquiring the agreements necessary to sustain
long-term financing, data sharing, and congruence with the geospatial policy for the remainder of the State of
Minnesota and beyond, as opposed to pursuing studies to define desired functionality.
The concept of establishing a regional GIS to serve the seven-county Twin City Metropolitan Area was suggested
in 1995 by the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning
agency that serves the seven county area. The concept was introduced at the Minnesota GIS/LIS State Conference in
September. Two informational forums followed in October to gauge public support for the concept of establishing a
regional GIS and for the idea of the Metropolitan Council facilitating the initiative. Strong support was found for
both concepts and, subsequently, the Council officially accepted responsibility to sponsor what has become known as the
definition and design phases of the MetroGIS initiative.
The definition phase officially began with a Strategic Planning Forum
held December 14, 1995. A process called "concept mapping"
[note: 5 MB file], facilitated by Dr. John Bryson with the University of Minnesota, was used to
identify the breadth of issues and opportunities that laid the foundation for what evolved into MetroGIS. This Forum
was attended by 22 representatives of public, non-profit, and private sector interests critical to the success of the
initiative, including the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Framework Coordinator. Through the concept
mapping exercises, agreement was reached on strategic issues and statements of intent that over the next four months
would be refined into a mission statement, five
initial strategic design projects, and an initial organizational structure. The participants, with the exception of
the NSDI Framework Coordinator, who deferred to the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Minnesota liaison, agreed to
continue to serve in an advisory capacity that evolved into the MetroGIS Coordinating Committee. A summary of the
definition phases activities and accomplishments is provided in a document entitled
"A Chronicle of Molding a Common Vision"