This month we’re excited to announce an outstanding new feature of our website: a link to several newly-created GIS maps, a mobile app and additional apps. As you’ll see, they make it easier to find and use our urban trails in Southwest Portland. And they offer a far more detailed and interactive view of each of our urban trails. GIS is short for Geographic Information System—in short a way to incorporate, analyze and present all kinds of important attribute data in a geospatial format. This effort has been made possible by our acceptance into the “ESRI Non-Profit Program”. ESRI (Earth Sciences Research Institute) is an international supplier of GIS software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications. The program enables our volunteers to produce professional-grade maps and databases at a much lower cost. These new maps raise the process of establishing, maintaining and extending the SWTrails network to a new level. And our GIS effort dovetails with that of Portland’s citywide development of a pedestrian plan, PedPDX. In a sense Portland’s PedPDX core concept only underscores years of effort by SWTrails members to allocate public resources, rights of way, money, and energy into the goal of making the entire city safe for walkers, hikers and bikers of all ages and abilities. All that intensive data collection pays off: we know even better where publicly funded improvements could upgrade or enhance current walking conditions, bike lanes, or crossing signals.
Over the coming months, we will be posting a series of blog posts that explain more on the GIS mapping effort and details about some of the maps found in the map gallery. Please take a look, try walking a trail you haven’t before, explore routes that have changed, and send us feedback on what you see and find. We hope these maps, which showcase the hard work of SWTrails volunteers through the years, enable us to better engage Portlanders in creating an accessible and easy-to-explore network of trails and routes throughout Southwest Portland (and beyond!).