Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Geographic Information Systems

A Geographic Information System (GIS) refers to collection of geospatial capabilities and tools, i.e., interactive reference mapping and spatial (map-based) analysis, and all data, applications, services and architecture that support them.

A GIS is an invaluable tool for storing, organizing, analyzing, and viewing data. It has been estimated that 80% of decisions made by local government are impacted, influenced, or constricted by geographical components.


Simply put, leveraging GIS as a tool in decision making provides Franklin County with the ability to analyze information geographically, resulting in more informed decisions, increased productivity, cost-effectiveness, and dissemination of knowledge for numerous county projects and entities.

The term "GIS data" broadly encompasses any and all data which has been incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS). In order to be incorporated into a GIS, data must have (or be able to be linked to) an associated spatial component which ties the data to a specific location in space. Examples of data which could be incorporated into a GIS include: 

  • aerial photography
  • local parks
  • flood water inundation during a hurricane
  • emergency service logs


Franklin County offers several GIS layers up for public viewing through various GIS web mapping services located on our: Interactive GIS Web Mapping Portal


For GIS data obtained from Franklin County, you must have a GIS software package compatible with the data filetypes to view them. Franklin County uses and recommends the use of ESRI ArcGIS products for viewing our GIS data. A free ESRI ArcGIS viewer (ArcExplorer for Desktop) can be downloaded directly from their site located here: ESRI ArcExplorer for Desktop

The method of obtaining Franklin County's GIS data is dependent on the status of the requestor and their intended use of the data. There are three categories of status/intended use:

1.   Personal & Business Use - Franklin County offers their GIS data for purchase [following the official ‘Franklin County Geospatial Data Fee Schedule’] for any and all personal and business uses. To obtain the data under the personal & business uses, you or a supervisor must sign the ‘Geospatial Data Delivered Content Terms and Conditions of Use’ as a representative of your organization with the authority to enter into such contracts.

2.   Academic & Educational Use - Franklin County offers their GIS data gratis [free of charge] for any and all academic & educational uses as assigned, supervised, or collaborated with an academic institution and/or its employees. To obtain the data under the academic & educational uses, your academic advisor must first sign the ‘Geospatial Data Terms & Conditions of Use’ as a representative of their academic institution and as a supervisor to those whom are performing the may be collaborating in the research. Alternatively, if requests are expected to be frequent, it might be prudent to have their academic institution (if eligible as a non-profit) enter into a ‘Geospatial Data Share Agreement’ with Franklin County (elaborated upon in #3).

3.   Government & Non-Profit Use - Franklin County offers their GIS data gratis [free of charge] for any and all government & non-profit uses. To obtain the data under the governmental and non-profit use, your organization must first enter into the ‘Geospatial Data Share Agreement’ with Franklin County which outlines the terms and conditions of sharing GIS data between the two organizations. Proof of government or registered non-profit status myst be provided with the initial data request.


To obtain GIS data through any of these avenues, you are required to submit an official ‘Geospatial Data Request Form’ along with the aforementioned required forms to the Franklin County GIS Department at If requesting a 'Geospatial Data Share Agreement', please send in the 'Geospatial Data Request Form'  and indicate you are seeking a 'Geospatial Data Share Agreement' on the form. Once received, the assigned GIS staff will process your request within 5 business days. The official ‘Geospatial Data Request Form’ can be accessed here: Geospatial Data Request Form

All delivered GIS data will be provided in ESRI ArcGIS software compatible shapefiles compressed into a .zip folder. The shapefile package may consist of all or some of the following filetypes:

Shape geometry file .shp
Shape index file .shx
Spatial index file .sbn
Spatial index file .sbx
dBASE file .dbf
XML document .xml
Projection file .prj


Furthermore, all delivered imagery files will be provided in inherent GIS software compatible filetypes compressed into a .zip folder. These filetypes include: 

Tiff Image .tif 
MrSid image .sid
JPEG image .jpg
PNG Image .png


For more information about broadband in Franklin County, visit Franklin County Broadband Challenge Information