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Frequently Asked Questions about:

  1. What is GIS?
  2. What is Spatial Data?
  3. How is NJDEP using GIS to accomplish its mission?
  4. What other government agencies are using GIS?
  5. Where can I get information about NJDEP GIS standards?
  6. What GIS data has NJDEP made available?
  7. What do I need to use NJDEP GIS data?
  8. Can I redistribute NJDEP data?
  9. Can NJDEP produce a map for me, or furnish customized data retrievals from the NJDEP GIS database for my study?
  10. Can anyone make a map online using NJDEP data?
  11. Can I get training for NJ-GeoWeb?
  12. What other GIS training is available?
  13. My DEP Permit Application Form requires NJ State Plane Coordinates for the location of the subject property. How do I obtain these coordinates?
  14. Where may I find historical aerial photography, base maps, etc.?
  15. What are map projections and coordinate systems and why are they important?
  16. Where may I obtain a coordinate conversion utility?
  17. The NJ-GeoWeb application isn't responding when I ask it a question. What is the problem?


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  1. What is GIS?
  2. The term Geographical Information System (GIS) is now used generically for any computer-based technique for the manipulation of geographical data. GIS is a broad field of endeavor, and incorporates the related fields of remote sensing and photogrammetry, as well as Global Positioning Systems (GPS). GIS includes not only hardware and software, but also the special devices used to manipulate geographic information to conduct spatial analysis and to create map products, together with communications systems needed to link various elements.

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  3. What is Spatial Data?
  4. GIS data is often referred to as spatial data” or “digital geospatial data.” The term “geospatial” is derived from “geo” relating to the Earth, and “spatial” relating to location in space. Two broad categories of spatial data are known as “vector” and “raster”. Beyond these main categories, other GIS-related data types include tabular data (database tables) and image data. All of these are discussed below.

      Vector data layers are comprised of points, connecting lines and polygons are recorded digitally using X-Y coordinates. Such images are fully scalable meaning they can be enlarged and reduced in size for display without sacrificing detail. Most map layers in GIS are expressed as vector images in order to conserve digital storage space, accelerate retrieval and minimize work involving analytical processing.

      Raster data layers are comprised of picture elements (pixels) that may be assigned a color value and intensity. An example of such images is a television picture. Raster images lose resolution (detail) as they are enlarged or reduced in size. These images usually occupy more storage space than vector images of the same area and require compression and expansion in use to conserve file space. Raster images usually result from the scanning process and in GIS are typically used for digitizing aerial photographs and background maps.

      Tabular data, often referred to as attribute data, because it is information that describes the attributes of features in a data layer, is stored in database tables. Rather than describing location, tabular data provides the descriptive information about the features in a layer.

      Image data or Digital Imagery is stored as raster data in a GIS and often provides an image as a backdrop to a vector data layer. Examples of image data include digital aerial photography, satellite imagery, scanned maps and photographs. Another term for image data commonly used is digital raster graphics (DRGs). USGS quadrangle topographic maps are often called USGS DRGs. Additional information on image data can be found in the Digital Imagery FAQs.

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  5. How is NJDEP using GIS to accomplish its mission?
  6. The use of GIS technology is integral to much of the work done at NJDEP. The use of GIS technology is the focus of the Bureau of GIS and is now used by many programs within the Department in order to make better environmental decisions.

    Read more about us.

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  7. What other government agencies are using GIS?
  8. Many agencies at all levels of government are now using GIS. Check out our Links Page and/or try performing a Search of the Internet using a browser search engine (such as Google). Links to other agencies who use GIS are grouped by Other New Jersey GIS Agencies, those from States Bordering NJ and Federal GIS sites.

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  9. Where can I get information about NJDEP GIS standards?
  10. The NJDEP has developed GIS standards to assist staff and other users of the Department’s data. The Mapping and Digital Standards document can be found on the Standards page.

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  11. What GIS data has NJDEP made available?
  12. Most of NJDEP's GIS data is now available for download. The data layers are available as compressed (zipped) files that contain the GIS data in ESRI shapefile format along with metadata (data documentation).

    NJDEP GIS Data layers are organized as follows:

    Once the file is downloaded it must be unzipped in order to use the data. An evaluation version of WinZip is available to download for free at http://www.winzip.com/

    The Departent also has GPS base station data available.

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  13. What do I need to use NJDEP GIS data?
  14. Any GIS software that can read standard ESRI shapefiles can view NJDEP’s GIS data layers. Staff at the NJDEP use the ArcGIS for Desktop suite of GIS software produced by ESRI, Inc.

    However, NJDEP's GIS data can be viewed without having to purchase GIS software to run locally on a PC. One option is to download ArcGIS Explorer Desktop from ESRI's web site. When connected to the Internet, ArcGIS Explorer for Desktop becomes a Web-enabled client allowing users to perform basic GIS tasks such as: panning and zooming data layers; displaying data using classifications, symbols, and labels; and identifying and querying geographic and attribute data.

    The second option is to view the ESRI MapObjects and ArcGIS powered Internet Map Server applications found on the Interactive Mapping page.

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  15. Can I redistribute NJDEP data?
  16. The NJDEP requires that permission be obtained prior to redistributing the Department’s data, and that the NJDEP Data Distribution policy be adhered to. For details, read the NJ Data Distribution Agreement or review the NJDEP Mapping and Digital Data Standards document.

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  17. Can NJDEP produce a map for me, or furnish customized data retrievals from the NJDEP GIS database for my study?
  18. While NJDEP cannot fulfill individual maps requests, we can provide quality data (on-line) and interactive mapping applications that may enable you to produce the information you are looking for.

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  19. Can anyone make a map online using NJDEP data?
  20. Yes, by using NJ-GeoWeb, NJDEP’s online interactive mapping application, anyone can use NJDEP GIS data without the need for downloading specialized software or data layers. NJ-GeoWeb runs in a browser and can be used to prepare maps you can print on your local printer. Plenty of online help and tutorials are available so that even those who are new to GIS should be able to use the NJ-GeoWeb application.

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  21. Can I get training for NJ-GeoWeb?
  22. Yes. NJDEP offers NJ-GeoWeb training classes for the public. Check the NJ-GeoWeb training page for dates.

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  23. What other GIS training is available?
  24. NJDEP has made available on the web several PowerPoint presentations for individuals to access at their convenience.

    For other GIS training opportunities take a look at the GIS Educational and Training links.

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  25. My DEP Permit Application Form requires NJ State Plane Coordinates for the location of the subject property. How do I obtain these coordinates?
  26. This information can be obtained by using the NJ-GeoWeb interactive mapping application which displays NJ State Plane map coordinates at the lower right-hand corner of the map window:

    In this example, Easting (X): 443,574, Northing (Y): 533,459 denotes NJ State Plane Coordinates in feet. In order to be confident in the accuracy of the coordinates at the mouse cursor, you should zoom-in close enough that the location can be easily identified using the aerial photography and other base map layers.

    If you prefer, you can also telephone the GIS Help Desk at 609-777-0672 to obtain this information.

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  27. Where may I find historical aerial photography, base maps, etc.?
  28. Historical aerial photography (not in digital form) can be viewed at the NJDEP Tidelands Management Program aerial photo library. Appointments can be made by calling 609-292-2573. For information on New Jersey base maps, view the GIS Technical Mapping Standards document and/or visit the NJDEP Maps & Publications web site.

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  29. What are map projections and coordinate systems and why are they important?
  30. All geographic data layers store locations in a particular map projection or coordinate system. Map projections and coordinate systems are important because, in order for data layers to overlay correctly, they must be stored in the same system. Examples of coordinate systems include Latitude and Longitude, Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), and NJ State Plane. These systems relate to the way locations on the Earth are stored in a data layer, and the need to make adjustments when translating locations from a sphere-shaped Earth to a flat map.

    Additional information on map projections and coordinate systems is available at the USGS Map Projections web site.

    Information on the NJ State Plane system can be found in the NJDEP GIS Digital Data Standards document.

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  31. Where may I obtain a coordinate conversion utility?
  32. The New Jersey Geological Survey provides a coordinate conversion utility for converting coordinates from Latitude/Longitude to NJ State Plane feet and visa versa.

    The US Army Corps of Engineers' Corpscon utility also allows coordinate conversions but has more input and output options and will handle datum conversions as well. The Corpscon utility along with other software is available for free download at the web site of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS).

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  33. The NJ-GeoWeb application isn't responding when I ask it a question. What is the problem?
  34. It could be that you have a Pop-up blocker turned on. To momentarily bypass the effects of Pop-up Blocker where it would otherwise conflict with the operation of NJ-GeoWeb, hold down the [ctrl] key on your keyboard as you click on the desired function (Find or Identify, etc.). If you're using Internet Explorer, you can turn off Pop-up blocker by going to the Tools menu and selecting Pop-up Blocker > Turn Off Pop-up Blocker. Remember if you load Google.Earth or Yahoo (or any other tool bars) they have Pop-up blockers on as the default and these must be turned off.

    While viewing NJ-GeoWeb within Internet Explorer please turn the compatibility view option ON.

    To change Compatibility View settings

    1. Open Internet Explorer.
    2. Press the Alt key to display the Menu bar (or right–click the Address bar and then select Menu bar).
    3. Tap or click Tools, and then tap or click Compatibility View settings.

    Once you get there, in the "Add this website:" text box, enter STATE.NJ.US then click "Add" then "Close". Also please try adding " state.nj.us " to the allowed pop-ups within the Pop-Up blocker setting's allowed websites list and then re-launch the application in Compatibility mode.

    This should allow the application to work properly.

    If this does not work for you, please contact the GIS Help Desk at (609) 777-0672 for assistance.

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Last Updated: November 25, 2013

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