If you can never remember if it’s your week for recycling, you’re not alone. But we’ve got something that can help you with that. Nestled among the many cool resources brought to you by the Mecklenburg County Geospatial Information Services (GIS) is a little thing called the Geoportal.

Excuse Me Reaction GIF by Mashable

Before that name takes you too far down a wormhole that defies space and time, let me tell you that the Geoportal is a way to dive into the data at any address in Mecklenburg County. It’s one of more than 30 web applications and story maps the department maintains. You can find all of them in the GIS Data Center. In 2019, the Geoportal was used about 354,000 times! 

I have a confession. I had never heard of GIS before working for the County and couldn’t have told you what they do beyond a guess. Now, I can tell you a few ways to lose some hours exploring the tools available. Teachers, you can use GIS tools to help students learn about their environment and the history of any place for just about any subject. The Geoportal is one of those tools. Integrate it into a variety of expanded lessons!

Using the Geoportal 

knit school bus with hearts around it.

First, pick an address. I used the Valerie C. Woodard (VCW) Center as an example. That’s the home of many Mecklenburg County resources like Veterans Support Services, Department of Social Services, and the tax office. The second tab is schools. That will show you the schools and nearest magnet schools for your address.  

Check out the building classification under the property tab. VCW is listed as a business. Your home is probably a residence or multi-family, just like some local historic properties like Biddle Hall at Johnson C. Smith University. You can also see the history of owners and the tax appraisal. You may see some interesting things under permits depending on when the building was built. The Valerie C. Woodard Center used to be Freedom Mall so that’s what’s under the permits listed more than a decade ago! 

scroll touch screen GIF by ALEX KAO

Scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see a link for Polaris. (Do not click that link unless you have an incredible amount of time to explore all of the information you’ll find, including multiple maps with multiple layers!) It’s a very popular app, though! Polaris was used over 2 million times in 2019. 

Screenshot of Trash & Recycling for VCW. Your TRASH  collection day is thursday. Your recycling collection day is thursday next week. Recycling pickup is every other week. (ORANGE).

The next tab is trash and recycling, so wonder no more when I was going to get back to that. Your day is listed! Find your polling place and your elected officials from senator on down. When you’re ready to get out of the house and explore, you can also find the nearest parks and libraries.  

Dig Even Deeper 

If you’re thinking to yourself, that is really quite enough information, just wait! Check out the community tab. Learn things about your neighbors like the percentage who have a bachelor’s degree and how many are older adults. Maybe you’re curious about how bike-friendly your neighborhood is or how your access to public transportation stacks up against other neighborhoods. All of that is right there. To see more of what GIS does, follow us on Twitter @MeckGIS!