Getting the GISt of Costs

by Thomas A. Denes, Principal; Dames & More, Bethesda, MD,
John Maylie, GIS Specialist; Dames & More, Bethesda, MD,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 7, Pg. 62-64

Document Type: Feature article


Over the past five years, geographic information systems (GIS) have become powerful graphical database tools, useful to everyone from city planners to departments of transportation, from environmental scientists to cartographers. But in New Jersey, the system has been put to a very different, though related, use: determining the benefit versus cost of saving a deteriorating section of the Passaic River shoreline. Much of the riverfront is inaccessible and underutilized, and continued erosion of the riverbank is endangering shoreline property. GIS defines geographic coordinates of a single point or multiple points that form lines and polygons, and these spatial components are linked to data attributed to that feature. The result is a map showing how the feature being analyzed varies throughout the area of interest. Engineers applied GIS to calculate the financial benefits of preventing erosion for the Minish Park project by assigning values to the type of land lost, and then creating simulated erosion scenarios.

Subject Headings: Geographic information systems | Erosion | Shoreline protection | Mapping | Information systems | Benefit cost ratios | Urban areas

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