A big upgrade to McLean County’s high-tech mapping tool shows just how much can change in four years.
The McLean County GIS (Geographic Information System) Consortium provides detailed maps used by real estate agents, homebuyers, engineering firms, and local governments, to name a few. Earlier this month “McGIS” added new 2018 aerial photos to its free interactive map, the first such update since 2014.
Users can pull up a location in McLean County and toggle between a 2018 aerial photo and past years, all the way back to 1940.
“You can really see over a pretty good period of time how much a certain area or a certain parcel has changed,” said David Peters, the GIS coordinator.
The new batch of aerial photos were shot via airplane in early March, Peters said. That time of year is strategic—after the snow is gone but before the leaves fill in—so the aerial view is unobstructed.
“There’s a very short window where they are available to fly,” Peters said.
The changes between 2014 and 2018 can be striking. New student apartments popped up all around Illinois State University. The new Destihl mega-brewery in northeast Normal was just an empty field.
East Bloomington (Veterans near Washington) - 2001 and 2018
Hancock Stadium at Illinois State University - 2006 and 2018
Shoppes at College Hills - 2001 and 2018
Uptown Normal - 2001 and 2018
Other than the novelty and nostalgia of change, McGIS provides a valuable service to all sorts of government units, businesses, and members of the public, Peters said. The McGIS website itself received a major overhaul about a year ago. It’s owned by the McLean County GIS Consortium. There are three member agencies: McLean County, the City of Bloomington, and the Town of Normal. The consortium also supports the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, the City of Bloomington Township Assessor, and Metcom.
“It’s been a lot of change here in the past year and a half,” Peters said.
See the changes for yourself at MCGIS.org.
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