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Jason Spalding was working at a West Palm Beach, FL engineering firm in 2002 when he discovered GIS. Shorthand for geographic information system, GIS has been described as a marriage between computerized mapping and data base management systems.

As Gil Castle, founder and CEO of Castle Consulting in San Francisco, explains, “Anything that can appear on a map can be encoded into a computer and compared to anything on any other map, using longitude-latitude coordinates.

Spalding, a civil engineer, was smitten. In fact, he was so taken with the technology that he quit his job in the land development division of the engineering firm to start his own GIS consulting company, emGISt Inc. He’s never looked back–and keeps pushing the technology forward.

Just recently, he transformed a GIS data blog he started in 2003 to Find GIS , a Florida-based GIS data resource site. The site includes GIS sources, GIS contacts, GIS data download sites and FTP sites for all 67 counties and 418 cities, towns and villages and links for the GIS divisions of multiple government agencies statewide.

Spalding says the site is designed to fill a need. “GIS Data and mapping applications are becoming crucial components within the real estate industry,” he explains. One of the many questions I was continually asked by clients was where to find additional GIS data.”

In addition to the Find GIS website, Spalding created and manages the Florida GIS Data Sharing Network, a community driven resource for users to list data sources, and the Florida GIS Data News Feed, which provides RSS feeds for his website.

Count Spalding among the growing legion of GIS aficionados—engineers, appraisers and any one of a number of other property-related professionals who are capitalizing on the power of the technology. GIS applications give all of them the tools to evaluate and analyze a broad list of key property-related questions. That list includes:

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