HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Where can I find the nearest daycare? Is my house in a flood zone? The city of Huntsville wants to make it easier for the public to answer those questions, so it's created an interactive mapping system online packed with information.
The maps offer multiple views of Huntsville and Madison County with different "layers" of information that can be applied. The information layers include details on everything from fire district boundaries to school zones to flood maps.
"If you wanna find your home, you can key in your address. It'll zoom to it on the map itself," Tim Barnes, Geographic Information Systems Manager for the city, explained.
It's a far cry from how the public used to access public information. "They'd actually have to come to the office and say, 'Can you show me the flood maps?' and we'd pull those from a filing cabinet or a hard copy," Barnes said.
Creating maps.huntsvilleal.gov has also allowed the city to highlight specifics in a way they couldn't before.
"You can see where the food vendors have their parking spaces," Barnes said, referencing the new food trucks at Downtown Huntsville's entertainment districts, "So if you want to go to the taco truck you'll know where the taco truck will be."
Although the information on Huntsville's interactive online maps may be most useful for realtors, builders and surveyors, Barnes suggests everyone spend a little time with them. He notes for example, the recent FEMA changes to flood boundaries in Madison County and how that could impact some residents who previously didn't need to worry about insurance.
When browsing the maps, users can select a number of "legends" and "layers" featuring brightly colored shadings and lines to showcase the relevant information.
In addition to the things mentioned in this article, the maps also feature greenways, hospitals, council districts and land use. To start exploring, click here.