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Good information is the basis of good planning and decision-making. The MVC works to compile, analyze and disseminate up-to-date and accurate information about natural characteristics and human settlement. Much of this is compiled and displayed with Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The GIS department of The Martha's Vineyard Commission is a state designated regional GIS service center and a member of the MARGIS, a technical advisory group to MARPA (MARPA_BG pdf 34K) .

The Commission's GIS staff is dedicated to obtaining the most current and accurate data available for Martha's Vineyard and Gosnold and to providing appropriate spatial analysis to assist with Region-wide planning projects. GIS is integrated into most of the Commission's planning efforts. Whether it's transportation, coastal planning, water resources, economic development, or DRIs, GIS can provide additional analytical tools necessary to examine complex planning problems. The MVC also provides GIS assistance to the Towns, non-profit groups, and the general public. The Commission's GIS services include cartography, spatial data analysis, central spatial data repository, data management, data collection/development, and providing general GIS software technical assistance and needs assessments.

The Martha's Vineyard Commission's GIS department also hosts quarterly meetings of the Island-wide GIS users group. This special interest group promotes data sharing, GIS knowledge transfer, and identifies key GIS data collection/creation projects that will enhance the region's GIS data inventory. (See MV-GIS meeting schedule and agenda.)


GIS software integrates maps with their respective information or "attributes". For example, traditionally, an assessor's office would have a set of parcel maps for a town and each parcel had a numeric identifier (i.e. map and lot number). In order to retrieve any specifics about this parcel, such as the owner's name, address, etc., one would then have to go to a separate database or hard copy book and look up that map and lot number. With GIS, the map of the parcels and all attribute data associated with the parcels are automatically linked, and one merely clicks on a parcel on the map to view the information associated with that parcel.

Through its ability to marry spatial data (maps) and non-spatial data (attribute information) in one location, GIS provides a framework for efficient data storage and data retrieval, intuitive display of information in a spatial context, and combining various types of information so that the data may be analyzed further. One example of combining various types of information would be to have a map of agriculture lands, soil type, and slope in the GIS, and then query the data to find those agriculture lands where the soil type is clay and the slope is less than 10 percent. This type of analysis would not be easily performed using traditional paper maps.

Any data that can be associated with a location can be stored in a GIS. It can be point locations such as stop signs, bird nests, and wells; or linear features such as roads, pipelines, and streams; or area features such as ponds, land use, and zoning classifications.

For more information about GIS, please consult the articles available from this website's Resource Center (see listing below).



Every two years, the Commission publishes a Data Book, a compilation in table and graph form of information about Dukes County. Highlights can be found in Economic Development and Affordable Housing section of this website, and a full report in the latest copy of the DukesCountyDataBook [document not yet available online] .


Some of the Commission’s digital GIS data is available for viewing, querying, and printing at the Dukes County Interactive Map. This site contains some of the more ‘popular’ datasets – Aerial Photos, Parcel Boundaries, Watershed Boundaries, Zoning, etc. – so that town employees and the public may have easy access to this information. From the mapping website a help file may be accessed which explains how to use the various mapping tools. For full descriptions of each dataset appearing on the mapping website see the Dukes County Interactive Map Metadata (GISMetadataFile htm 405 bytes) . Please provide feedback to us about the mapping website by sending your comments to Chris Seidel, GIS Coordinator,

The Commission’s GIS digital library contains many more files than those displayed on the VIM website. Annually, the MVC’s GIS Department produces a GIS Inventory CD. The CD is available for free to the town boards, departments, and commissions for those towns within Dukes County and may be purchased by all others for $10.00. Review the GIS Inventory file (GISInventoryFile pdf 47K) for a complete list of the CD’s contents.

To request the GIS Inventory CD or if you have questions, please contact Chris Seidel by calling 508-693-3453 x20. Custom data compiliations may be created for a nominal charge, see GIS Fee Schedule (MapPrintingFees pdf 68K) .


Available for download in the Resource Center are some of the maps created by the Commission. The Martha's Vineyard Commission provides cartographic production, map printing services, and GIS spatial analysis free of charge to the town boards, departments and commissions for those towns within Dukes County. Other organizations as well as project applicants and members of the public should consult the latest GIS Fee Schedule (MapPrintingFees pdf 68K) .


The following describes the MVC's technical setup for GIS.

All data within the Martha's Vineyard Commission's GIS inventory is stored in either shapefile or ArcInfo coverage format in the following coordinate system: Stateplane, Massachusetts Mainland, NAD83, meters. These projection parameters are the same as those used by MassGIS, ensuring that all data from the Commission will overlay properly with data from the State's GIS data inventory.

The Martha's Vineyard Commission uses the most recent version available of the world's leading commercial GIS software, the ARC family of products produced by ESRI. This software includes:

  • ESRI's ArcGIS suite (ArcMap, ArcEdit, ArcInfo, ArchInfo Workshop) version 9.x
  • ESRI's ArcPublisher Extension
  • ESRI's Spatial Analyst Extension
  • ESRI's 3D Analyst Extension
  • ESRI's ArcPad
  • Trimble's GPS Analyst Extension for ArcGIS

The Commission also has the following hardware.

  • Trimble GeoXH GPS Unit with GPS Correct (sub-meter precision after post differential correction)
  • HP Designjet 1050C plus - Large Scale Color Plotter - roll width 36"
  • HP Color LaserJet 5500dn – Duplex Printing, Maximum Page Size 11”x17”



Chris Seidel, GIS Coordinator, 508-693-3453 ext. 20,


Introductory / Background

Applications of GIS

GIS 'How To'


GIS Info

User Groups and Professional Societies

GIS Data


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