As residential growth booms in the Rocket City, one thing is clear: Huntsville is no longer the best-kept secret in the South.
To give developers, new residents and citizens a better understanding of how fast Huntsville is growing, GIS Program Specialist Nick Haney has developed a new web application that complements the City’s popular Development Review on HuntsvilleAL.gov.
Updated weekly with the latest data, the free Permit Stats dashboard includes a wide range of information, from building permits and certificates of occupancy to Census tracts and non-residential contracts exceeding $100,000 in value.
Why is this important? Haney, who moved to Huntsville from North Carolina three years ago, said the tool takes the leg work out of mining your own data.
“The data is not live in the sense that it’s instantaneous, but it is live in the sense that it’s fully automated and people don’t have to go manually look for and crunch these numbers,” he said. “It is giving people more insight into how busy and how growing the City of Huntsville is.”
A little history
The Huntsville Development Review is a compilation of construction and real estate data published annually by the City’s Urban Development Department. Data for this report is obtained from City records and the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service (NALMLS).
Huntsville, which began publishing annual Development Review reports in 1983, began sharing monthly summaries of the data on its website in 2016.
“We get asked constantly about updated construction data, from residents as well as out-of-towners who are interested in the Huntsville area,” said City Planner James Vandiver.
It is giving people more insight into how busy and how growing the City of Huntsville is.
Vandiver, who compiles the Development Review for the City, has been working closely with Huntsville’s GIS Department to make the new web app possible.
“The Permit Stats dashboard brings the Development Review one step closer to real-time construction data,” he said. “We hope this tool will be useful for everyone interested in this type of info.”
To view the dashboard, click here.
The GIS Department also recently unveiled a native species application, which highlights plant and animal species local to the Huntsville area.
The easy-to-use tool shows the approximate ranges of mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, bird and tree species in our community.
“We have a lot of species diversity in Alabama, and a lot of it is in Huntsville,” Haney said. “A lot of people don’t know that, especially those who are moving into our area.”
To operate the dashboard, residents can search by species group as well as common name, family or conservation status. Users can then select an option from the drop-down menu, which Haney created over weeks of thoughtful research and development.
Check out the Native Species of Huntsville application on our website.
Other GIS offerings
Earlier this year, the GIS Department launched an online tool that lets you easily search for an address or a parcel.
The application allows users to find a substantial amount of information about any piece of property in Huntsville/Madison County as well as some outer-lying areas. By pulling from 72 different data sources, it has become a valuable source of information on properties in the greater Huntsville area.
GIS offers a range of other public apps, including cemeteries, historic properties and markers, aerial imagery and more.
“Some of these apps are pretty unique,” Haney said. “I’ve never seen an application like our historic imagery page, given the sheer amount of imagery we have made available.”
Mayor Tommy Battle is pleased with the progress the GIS Department has made in making public data more easily accessible.
“With such a smart, innovative community, it makes sense that the City continues to invest in tools that help residents, prospective buyers, developers and engineers,” he said. “I encourage everyone to check out the full gallery of apps on HuntsvilleAL.gov.”