Meet the brain behind Steamboat Springs’ new interactive maps
May 1, 2014
Steamboat Springs — In a small historic office above a cafe in downtown Steamboat Springs, Mary Schuette helps a lot of people find a lot of things.
She helped the city's parks and recreation workers find out exactly how many acres of grass they are required to mow.
The city used that data to better calculate how much fertilizer and manpower they would need to maintain it all.
She helped create a map showing the location of all of the hundreds of trees the city maintains.
Now, the city's arborist has a detailed inventory of all of the city's trees and what species they are.
And this week, she is finishing a new interactive map that will let community members see the conditions, length and difficulty rating of all the trails in this city.
It's a complex job with a simple mission.
"What I enjoy the most is helping people," Schuette said Thursday. "The goal is to get as much information out to the public and the community as much as possible, and I've been doing that with (geographic information system) maps. I love Web development and I love database work, as well, so being able to develop these maps for the community and for the city's internal departments is really fun."
Schuette heads the city's one-person geographic information system, or GIS, department.
She's a sort of best friend to anyone who needs help finding something that would be hard to find or understand without a detailed map.
And she's been busy in recent years.
For the winter season, she developed a new interactive map showing the status of Nordic skiing trails on Emerald Mountain.
This spring, she and the city’s planning department launched a new map showing the location and status of new development projects.
When she's not working on new maps for the community, she's assigning addresses to new properties, helping to name new streets and constantly updating the geographic information that is used by emergency dispatchers.
On Thursday, she was polishing and testing the new interactive trails map, seamlessly switching between a set of three computer monitors.
"A lot of days, it's going with the flow," she said.
Schuette has 16 years of GIS experience and first started using the technology to study wildlife ranging from ruffed grouse to Marbled Murrelets on the Oregon coast.
She said the GIS position in Steamboat was a dream job.
"Working for the city was very enticing to me because I wanted to be a part of the community, and I wanted to contribute to the community and improve it," she said. "I love helping people."