WISCRS (Wisconsin Coordinate Reference Systems) – Revised County Coordinate System Parameters Released

A revamped set of county coordinate system definitions for all Wisconsin counties has been released in an online report from the Wisconsin Coordinate Systems Task Force. The revised coordinate systems have been officially named the Wisconsin Coordinate Reference Systems – or WISCRS, to differentiate from the original Wisconsin County Coordinate System (WCCS) – in use in Wisconsin since 1994.

Use of WISCRS definitions will promote ease of integration of locally-produced GIS data as coordinate differences between the new and old systems will not be discernible. At any location, a WISCRS coordinate is within five millimeters or less of the original county (WCCS) coordinate. The WISCRS report is posted on the Wisconsin State Cartographer’s website ( http://www.sco.wisc.edu/).

The task force began educating users about the new revised projection definitions earlier this year with informational sessions at the annual conferences of the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors (WSLS) and Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA). The State Cartographer’s website will announce additional training sessions planned for this fall and winter at various locations throughout the state beginning with a WSLS-sponsored workshop on October 13, 2006. An updated publication to supersede the Wisconsin Coordinate Systems Handbook will also be produced.

The decision to create WISCRS was led by the Wisconsin Coordinate Systems Task Force, a subcommittee formed in 2004 by the State Cartographer’s Office under the authority of the Wisconsin Land Information Association. Ultimately, the Task Force decided the best solution was to develop revised coordinate system definitions for all counties. These systems were developed using a more conventional approach that associated all of them with the same national reference framework and produced coordinates that had essentially the same values as those of WCCS. Because WISCRS uses a traditional method for defining the coordinates that relates all of them directly to the national reference system, confusion and misuse in the user and vendor communities should be greatly reduced.

The Wisconsin Land Information Board provided Strategic Initiative Grant funding to Jackson County for the redesign project in 2005. Dr. Alan Vonderohe, a retired civil and environmental engineering professor at UW-Madison developed the WISCRS final design parameters and documentation. The Wisconsin Land Information Association Board of Directors has endorsed the project results.

Software vendors requiring support for implementation of WISCRS for coordinate transformation may contact the State Cartographer’s Office - http://www.sco.wisc.edu/about/Contact.php

Special thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for making this project possible.

The Wisconsin Coordinate Systems Task Force is composed of a diverse group of approximately 20 individuals including federal, state, county, municipal, academic, and private sector professionals. The Task Force was initially formed to address problems of misunderstanding and misuse of WCCS. These problems arose primarily because WCCS used an unconventional approach to the definition of the coordinate systems that caused each system to depend upon its own underlying reference datum, different from the national reference framework.

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Operating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus since 1974, the State Cartographer’s Office (SCO) provides direct assistance to the state’s professional mapping, surveying, and GIS/LIS communities through print and Web publications, presentations, and educational workshops. Our staff works closely with regional and national professional organizations on a wide range of initiatives that promote and support geospatial information technologies, and act as liaisons between the many private and public organizations that produce geospatial data in Wisconsin.

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