The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) has had a department-wide Geographical Information System (GIS) in place since 1994. The GIS Center provides support to all GIS users within LDEQ and constructs maps as requested by LDEQ personnel. The Center also maintains and develops GIS data sets for agency mapping requirements.

What is a GIS? Perhaps the simplest definition would be “A computer system capable of holding and using data describing places on the earth’s surface.” This definition should actually be expanded to include the individual parts of the system that comprise a Geographic Information System. Therefore a better definition would be: “An organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information.”

LDEQ Interactive Mapping

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LDEQ GIS Center personnel use two specific GIS software packages: (1) the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc (ESRI®) suite of GIS products named ArcGIS™. This suite of products uses vector, or line data (which may be points, lines, or polygons) to represent events or places on the earth’s surface and includes ArcInfo™, ArcMap™, ArcCatalog™, ArcTools™, and ArcView™; and (2) erdas IMAGINE® Imagine™ which is used to process satellite imagery, aerial photography, radar imagery and other image data, referred to as raster data.

LDEQ GIS Center personnel use these products to produce complex GIS projects. ArcView™, the more “user friendly” software in this package is also being used by upper management to access established GIS data/data sets to assist in making executive level decisions and by other LDEQ personnel to produce specific GIS Projects that assist them in performing their daily tasks. Both of these GIS software packages are used in tandem to create maps which can display attributes of data stored in relational databases.