From Cacapon December 2000

 What is GIS?

Any map is a form of Geographic Information System, which basically locates anything from a house to a road to a mountain on the surface of the earth. A GIS is made up of spatial (geographically referenced) data combined with descriptive attribute (non-spatial or tabular) information. The tax maps and associated ledgers at your county courthouse are a form of manual GIS and, while providing useful and accurate information, they are typical of manual systems in being difficult to update and time consuming to use. The advent of powerful computers and sophisticated computer GIS software allows relatively easy storage, integration, retrieval and presentation of this geographic information.

A wonderful example of the difference between manual and computerized GISystems can now be found side by side in Hampshire County. You can still go to the courthouse in Romney, request specific tax maps (one-by-one), find specific sites on maps and then go to the platt books to learn who owns the property. You can also call up the complete Hampshire County tax map data set in computer GIS format over the internet at http://206.246.204.40/public/index.htm. Try it sometime