What is MARIS?

History and purpose: MARIS is the Mississippi Automated Resource Information System. Established by the state legislature in 1986 (See Legislation), MARIS is proving the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to manage and apply geographic information to a wide range of natural and cultural resource programs in Mississippi. MARIS promotes coordination through sharing of the resources, funds, and talents required to develop a unified, comprehensive approach to geographic information technology. Additionally, MARIS serves as the state government clearinghouse for digital geo-spatial data about Mississippi. This is an ongoing process that continues to build and enhance information in the State Geographic Data Base. Examples of data applications are:

  • Agency planning for Mississippi's infrastructure needs
  • Environmental assessment and modeling applications
  • Forest management
  • Engineering applications in areas such as transportation and utilities
  • Socio-economic/census data applications
  • Emergency management programs

Organizational Structure

(Organizational Chart)

The real strength of MARIS is that its activities are guided by the participation of state agencies which use spatial data. At present, the directors of member state agencies come together as MARIS's Policy Committee to seek the best measures in supporting the use of GIS technology throughout state government. They assure that agency needs are coordinated through multi-agency planning and cooperative effort.

The Executive Committee, which is drawn from the Policy Committee, provides additional leadership to oversee the implementation of the MARIS program.

The Task Force is the backbone of MARIS and the principal reason for its success. It is comprised of program managers and technical personnel within state agencies who meet monthly to discuss a variety of technical, institutional, and organizational issues. Coordination is increasingly important since future directions in computer technology and digital data development encourage more users to acquire geographic information technology within their own agencies. The Task Force also helps determine the scope and direction of work to be undertaken by MARIS. Examples of successful coordination include:

  • Achieved defacto standard for GIS hardware/software platforms for state government
  • Adoption of a recommended standard for GIS data reporting
  • Development of statewide digital 7.5 minute public land survey system (PLSS)
  • Development of statewide land use/cover update (1993)

Federal Affiliates are key federal agencies working with spatial data in Mississippi. They participate in the Task Force's meetings to coordinate on-going federal work and resource sharing with Mississippi and keep MARIS informed of national developments and GIS activities within their own agencies.

Local Government & Private sector: Representatives of local governments and the private sector from around the state participate in Task Force activities. They bring a valuable perspective on the real and potential problems, needs, and opportunities for GIS technology and its application to their unique programs. The day-to-day capacity to carry out the MARIS program resides in the Technical Center. The Technical Center not only supports the administrative and planning operations of MARIS, but implements a wide-ranging technical GIS program. The MARIS Technical Center maintains a professional staff composed of GIS/remote sensing specialists and systems analysts.