JUNE 2002

Table of Contents

  1. Michigan Center for Geographic Information Established
  2. Michigan Census Data for Geographic Framework
  3. Subdivision Documents and Data
  4. Michigan Geographic Names Authority

(1) Michigan Center for Geographic Information Established

On April 26, 2002, the Michigan Information Center was officially renamed the "Michigan Center for Geographic Information" (note acronym 'CGI') and given a new URL ( Administratively, the Center for Geographic Information has been part of the new Department of Information Technology since last October when the Michigan Information Center was moved from the Office of Management and Budget.

Michigan has a rich history in the development, use and dissemination of digital geographic information and has been a national leader on many fronts. "The creation of the Center of Geographic Information", according to Director Jacque Passino, "reflects Governor Engler's vision for better coordination of geographic information technology across state government and brings about improved information management and data standardization."

The Michigan Center for Geographic Information will continue to work with agencies and outside groups as before, but some of the census data work and education statistics work will spin off elsewhere. The only employee lost was the State Demographer, who went to the state budget office. Rob Surber and Eric Swanson both seem to feel this is a very positive move, an indication of a strong endorsement of GIS by the governor and high ranking officials. They plan to offer SDE, IMS, and other database and information processing services to other Michigan government agencies, so that each agency isn't recreating the wheel.

The CGI website currently offers 60 unique statewide datasets including the state’s basemap (MI Geographic Framework), aerial imagery, geology, hydrography, land ownership, topography, and much more. An online map library, grant opportunities, standards and an overview of current state geographic information system projects may be viewed as well.

Geographic information from across state government will continually be made available and updated through this portal.

Source: Kathleen Weessies, Maps/GIS Librarian, Michigan State University Libraries, and Center for Geographic Information press release, April 26, 2002.

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(2) Michigan Census Data for Geographic Framework

A huge new resource, somewhat buried within the Michigan Geographic Data Library site (,1607,7-158-12693---,00.html, is the Census Data for Geographic Framework web page (see A major problem with the U.S. Census Bureau's American Factfinder site is that census data doesn't come with a FIPS code, which makes linking data to mapping-related tables tedious. According to Kathleen Weessies, Maps/GIS Librarian at Michigan State University, this new site allows downloading of customized census tables (Michigan data only) by state, county, census tract, and soon minor civil divisions in any combination needed. The FIPS codes come with the data, making merging to mapping software tables much easier.

Data users pulling data for analysis from the Michigan Geographic Data Library (just like those pulling data from American Factfinder) will need to be careful. For instance, both file P003 and file P007 are labeled 'Race". It is not apparent that these two files are providing data from two different geographic summary levels. To interpret results precisely, users will need to download a 625-page PDF file containing all the definitions from the site. A list of 285 subject areas from Census 2000 Summary File 1 (100% Population & Housing) is currently available to choose from. Summary File 3 data (income, education, ancestry, all that great stuff) will be made available here shortly after it is released by the U.S. Census Bureau later this summer.

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(3) Housing Subdivision Documents and Data

Another great Michigan resource that has been around, but is rather obscure, is a site mounted by the Department of Consumer and Industry Services, Bureau of Construction Codes, providing documents and data files on every housing subdivision in Michigan. Go to the Manufactured Housing and Subdivision Control Division web page at and save this URL, since it is virtually impossible to locate with a browser). The legal descriptions and sketches of each subdivision come up in some sort of graphic format that is not PDF but acts somewhat the same. The data downloads are reported to be in an Intergraph format (non-GIS users, ignore that reference). In all, there are over 65,000 recorded subdivisions in Michigan.

Source: Kathleen Weessies, Maps/GIS Librarian, Michigan State University.

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(4) Michigan Geographic Names Authority

The state of Michigan recently created the Michigan Geographic Names Authority (,1607,7-158--31483--,00.html). Since 1890, the US Board on Geographic Names has established and maintained uniform geographic name usage -- if a lake, mountain, or other feature has two different names, the BGN decides which name goes on the USGS topo (unless Congress decrees otherwise). However, the BGN prefers to defer to the desires of local levels of government, and has long wanted Michigan to organize a names authority board. Many other states have them.

Dan Metzger of the Center for Geographic Information is coordinating the Michigan Geographic Names Authority, and Kathleen Weessies from Michigan State University Map Library has recently been appointed to the board.

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