King County has acquired and maintained elevation data derived from lidar since 2002 in cooperation with the Puget Sound Lidar Consortium. Elevation products such as contours, watershed boundaries, and steep slope areas have been greatly improved in accuracy.
In March of 2019, King County Emergency Management submitted a request to KCGIS Center Spatial Services for a tabletop 3D model of the county to be used for community outreach and education on the variety of physical topography throughout King County and its challenges for emergency management.
As the most-used GIS packages, ArcGIS and QGIS are amazing and powerful for analytical applications. Despite their analytical strengths, they sometimes don’t quite achieve the quality needed for high-level graphics. It’s common for cartographers to prepare maps or layers of maps in ArcGIS, then export them for use in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator where more sophisticated graphic techniques can be applied to create finished map products. The King County GIS Center recently came across another need to go beyond the graphic capabilities of ArcGIS.
Whether familiar with the history and personalities of mountaineering or not, cartography students of a certain age who studied mapmaking at the University of Washington would frequently hear the name of an earlier UW grad, Dee Molenaar. Any who aspired to turn their hand to depicting terrain on maps would learn from their professor of the exemplary landform maps created by Molenaar.