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2010 SCAug fort worth conference summary of presentations



Getting to the “AHA!” in Data Interoperability

Toni Jackson, GISP, San Antonio Water System

San Antonio Water System (SAWS) has been working for a year to clean the data in three data sets and prep for use in a new Asset Management software system.  The lengthy, time intensive process to clean up this data was making it very expensive.  In an effort to automate some of the processes and reduce the cost of the data we started using the Data Interoperability extension and began to transform our data at a prodigious rate.  Getting started with Data Interoperability didn’t happen over night.  Our team worked for a month before finally achieving success building transformers. 

This presentation will walk through the process of creating a simple workspace to manipulate, organize and manage geospatial data and explain the different ways SAWS has been able to use more complicated transformers.  We will also show you how you can “do more with less”…“Getting to the ‘AHA!”, by using Data Interoperability to reduce the cost of your data without hiring more staff.

Creating Better Maps: Cartographic Design

Johnny Brown, GISP, Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center

Any GIS professional can create maps.  Mash a few buttons, grab and label a few features to arrange in a layout and, “BAM!” a pretty map zips away to the plotter.  It is easy to do but is it the best you can do?  This session introduces users to principals of cartography that may be missing from everyday map production.  Understanding the concepts and methods of cartography, and how they are applied will lead to well designed, effective maps that fulfill the requirements of their intended audience and purpose.

Standardize Map Production and Use Through ArcGIS Server

Previn Wong, San Antonio River Authority 

Every organization that starts using GIS has a collection of disparate data usually stored in various places on the network or on users’ local computer. Map production through this process usually results in an inconsistent operational picture. The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) has created an one-stop GIS portal for the agency's GIS needs. SARA, through the use of ArcGIS Server, has standardized the cartographic look of map production (Map Themes). These map themes are consumed throughout SARA through ArcGIS Desktop (via standardized page layouts) and through web applications. End users can also mashup various map themes and tools into their own web application to create even more focused mapping applications. Through the use standardization, SARA ensures every department portrays a common operational picture.

GIS and GPS for Historical Preservation

David W. Allen, GISP, City of Euless

Calloway Cemetery near Euless is the final resting place for many of the pioneer families in Northeast Tarrant County. The cemetery board wanted to document the graves at the cemetery so that it could reopen for new burials, and the City of Euless supplied the GIS work to do this. As a sideline, a website was built to aide in gaining information about the people interred there as well as provide an excellent resource for genealogical research. Learn how this process was undertaken and see the results of the GIS, GPS, and web design work done for the cemetery.

The People Behind the People!

Shane Diaz, Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center

In the ever changing world of 911 and GIS there are countless improvements taking place and advances in technology are leading to new standards in 911.  Phone capabilities are ever increasing; allowing text, picture, internet, and video to be shared within seconds.  All of these technological advancements need to be considered in our emergency response.  These professionals deal with life and death issues each day.  Yet there are a few select individuals, who without their services and skills would make the jobs of these responders much more difficult and perhaps even hinder them in their response time. 

The GIS professionals that create, rectify, and develop the data that drives the 911 service, are rarely known by the public.  These are truly unsung heroes.  This session will give us a bird’s eye view of the details and editing practices put into place by these individuals.  We will discuss concepts, tools, and methodology used by these professionals that provide the basis for emergency services, thus allowing a look at, the people behind the people.

Reconstructing and preserving the past with GIS

Stefan Hildebrand , Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport 

As the geography of an area changes over time in regards to physical and human activity it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the past in today’s rapid urban growth and development. At DFW Airport the understanding of the past still plays an important role in decision making.  GIS has provided the mechanism to document and compile a variety of historical information sources into one portal to gain perspective on the land before there were planes and terminals.  By utilizing mapping technologies we have an excellent ability to guide decision making so as to minimize archaeological impacts and to assist in compliance requirements.  This presentation will discuss some of the reasons why we investigate the past, how we organized the information, basic data design criteria, present day uses, and possible future development of the historical data.

Carter County 2009 Disasters – Blurring the Lines for Clarity

James Allen, Carter County

Charles Brady III, GISP, City of Ardmore

Disasters rarely occur at convenient times or with regard to manmade jurisdictions. GIS databases, however, are generally dictated by these manmade jurisdictions & their agencies’ specific requirements. This inherent dichotomy presents a real conundrum when a disaster ignores these constraints. This is just one reason why Carter County and the City of Ardmore’s GIS programs have been blurring the lines between the agencies for over a decade. During this time both agencies have merged the datasets to provide a seamless basemap with complete GIS coverage over the entire county. The independent yet parallel program design has benefitted both agencies over the years. This benefit was fully realized over the past year with the F4 Tornado that ripped through the county, and the wildfire that completely consumed over 95 square miles and affected over 250 square miles. This seamless interaction provides support and resources to both agencies that neither one could afford on their own. In the blurring of the lines between agencies, clarity is being brought to the GIS as a whole.

Monitoring Hydrilla Growth on Lake Tyler Using Multispectral Satellite Images

Arun Kulkarni and Kiran Parimi

The University of Texas at Tyler, Computer Science Department

Aquatic plant infestations affect water quality and city water supply and impede commercial and recreational traffic through navigable waterways. It affects activities such as boating, swimming and fishing. Traditional field based mapping and monitoring of extend invasive aquatic plant present several challenges including inaccessibility of areas for ground truth data collection and indentifying rapid changes in aquatic plant location. This paper deals with monitoring Hydrilla growth in Lake Tyler. Hydrilla was first discovered on lake Tyler east in 1993, following the two years drought 2005-2006, it covered more than 1200 acres in 2007. Biologists from the Texas Park and Wildlife department estimate that one-fifth (537 acres) of the 2500 acre lake is covered in the fast growing non-native plant. It is important to keep growth of hydrilla under control as it can be invasive and out-compete native spaces and cover too large area. There are several stake holders who have interest in how Hydrilla is managed as Lake Tyler is a main source of water supply to the City of Tyler.  We analyze multispectral images from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM), using ground truth data to identify areas such as aquatic emergent and sub-emergent and native plant groups. We analyze temporal images using various classifiers such as the maximum likelihood. . We evaluate results using measures such as the user’s accuracy, producer’s accuracy, overall accuracy, and Kappa coefficient.

Accessing Disparate Data - There is a Better Way

Daryl Scott

City of Dallas, Public Works & Transportation

In 2007, the Pavement Management Program (PMP) at the City of Dallas implemented an automated pavement data collection system with integrated crack detection, video image capture, ground penetrating radar, and smoothness profiler.  The system uses multiple proprietary software packages to collect, analyze, and browse the data.  Although the City improved the quality of its pavement condition data, the sensor data and analysis could not be accessed through a single interface.  In addition, GIS staff struggled to keep the field and office data synchronized and up-to-date.  In a quest to streamline workflows, PMP adopted a database-as-API approach while it developed T-SQL stored procedures and user defined functions to provide simple, consistent, and secure external database access.  Over time, PMP used the stored procedures and user-defined functions to automate workflows and provide convenient data access via an Intranet site, ArcGIS, and stand-alone Python scripts.  As a result, the system is much easier to navigate, use, and maintain than previously.  This presentation will demonstrate the database-as-API approach, external database access using the pyodbc module, web site development with Python, and intelligent ArcGIS script tools using the ToolValidator class.

Save Time Performing Routine Tasks

Josh E. Turner

The Geospatial Group

Do you have to update source data as much as I do? Maybe you have a geoprocessing task that you repeat often. Whatever the case, if you haven’t tried Model Builder, there’s no better time than now.  Model Builder is used to string many of Arc’s toolbox tools together to be run back to back. Time savings are increased with every tool added to the string.  The model itself is saved as a tool and the entire task can be completed with the click of a button. This is nice, but you still have to open Arc and run the tool. The real beauty occurs when the model is exported to a Python script, the script is added to a batch file, and the batch file is run as a Scheduled Task. Schedule the task to run when no one is using the data and the updates go unnoticed by everyone, including the updater.  The presentation will walk through an example project and show how this process can basically eliminate a reoccurring geoprocessing task.

4-H Youth GIS Partnerships in Action: Alert, Evacuate, and Shelter

Jeff Sallee PhD

Oklahoma State University

The 4-H Youth Development program has a long history of improving communities through the application of science and technology. 4-H is located in every county in every state. These youth are always interested in taking on new projects, learning new technologies, and finding practical applications. Volunteers and professionals are the key to helping 4-H youth develop into caring, productive citizens.

Across the state of Oklahoma teams of youth and adults have formed to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help prepare their communities for potential emergencies. Oklahoma 4-H teams have selected projects ranging from locating storm sirens to distributing emergency maps. Each of these teams has partnered with a local EMS agency to address a community need while developing their geospatial skills. When conducting 4-H GIS, two goals should be kept in mind: public service and youth development. Partnerships are important to the success of youth and GIS. This educational program would not be as successful and effective without these partnerships. 

This session will highlight examples of Youth GIS work and tell the story of their projects and partners. Participants will learn about 4-H and how effectively youth can apply GIS technology to community service and disaster preparedness.   

Mapping of Buried Assets in GIS for Future Access

Ashok Wadwani

Applied Field Data Systems, Inc. 

The cost of building, operating, and maintaining buried assets is enormous.  In addition, a typical utility ticket may contain several buried assets with abandoned features. Utilities and municipalities are looking for a cost effective way to efficiently manage assets, minimize operating costs and quickly restore outages.

The use of passive markers to locate buried assets started several years ago. Due to advances in GPS technology, the integration of GPS with passive markers became a reality.  However the passive markers did not provide any information regarding location and attributes of the assets.  With the availability of RFID markers, low cost GPS and easy to use field data collection software, municipalities are now using  RFID markers with GPS receivers to locate, and identify buried assets before digging and in addition bring this data into GIS for analysis and future navigation.

The presentation will cover how this technology is being used now.

Flex vs. Silverlight – Moving Beyond the ADF

Brian Besier

IT Nexus

Since releasing ArcGIS Server in 2004 ESRI has provided a variety of APIs (application programming interfaces) for its users. Starting first with the .NET ADF, the offering now includes a JavaScript API, a Flex API (Adobe Flex Builder) and recently, a Silverlight API (Microsoft Silverlight™/WPF™).

This presentation provides a comparison of each of these APIs using examples and a straight-forward discussion of what’s easy, what’s possible and what’s missing or difficult to achieve with each API. We discuss what’s available with ESRI’s free templates, what it takes to learn and use each API, how to determine which API is a good fit for your organization and our experience developing GIS-web applications in each environment. 

What Lies Beneath?

A Detailed Look at the World Underground and the Tools Used to Map It

Dennis Heath, GISP

Tri-Global Technologies, LLC.

Brandon Baker

Green Equipment Company

Just beneath the ground surface lays a very complex and dangerous network of utility infrastructure.  Many of these utilities (electric, gas, water, telecommunications) spatial locations have never been properly documented.

Facility owners are beginning to realize that with its work force nearing retirement they may loose critical spatial knowledge of its own aging infrastructure.  Combining these concerns with federal and state regulations designed to help protect local communities; utility stakeholders are beginning to incorporate global positioning system (GPS) receivers with electromagnetic utility line locator technologies to help manage their underground facilities within their geographic information system (GIS) and one-call ticket management systems.

In this presentation, we will take a closer look at how the combined technologies were used to:

(1) reduce one-call ticket volumes for a telecommunications company saving $1.25MM annually;

(2) perform a detailed utility depth of cover analysis looking for shallow pipe for a high pressure gas transmission pipeline company;

(3) reduce excavation damage of previously unmapped and unidentified fiber optic lines on a military base being converted to civilian use;

(4) identify and locate external coating damage and external corrosion on pipelines for a gas pipeline company;

(5) identify illegal taps on a gas pipeline in Kazakhstan;

(6) map sanitary sewer and storm water sewer networks and previously unidentified laterals for a city municipality;

(7) accurately map centerline facilities for use in High Consequence Analysis structure count for a pipeline operator.

City of Fort Worth Storm Water GIS Inventory Coordination and Quality Control

Jennifer Jacobs, GISP

Jacobs Engineering Group 

The lack of an adequately mapped, detailed inventory of the City’s storm water system has impeded the ability of staff to respond to maintenance needs, plan long-term capital improvements, and provide necessary emergency response information in a timely manner.  The purpose of the Storm Water Geographic Information System (SWGIS) Inventory project is to develop a detailed inventory of the City’s storm water assets in a GIS in order to facilitate these activities.  

The scope of work for the project includes developing an initial schematic from engineering design drawings, field reconnaissance and survey, and schematic rectification, among other tasks, for the entire City over a four year period.

This effort requires the coordination 10-12 GIS Analysts and up to five field survey crews, among other personnel, at any given time in order to maintain the productivity levels necessary to complete the project on schedule.  This presentation will discuss how Jacobs is dealing with the office and field coordination and quality control issues associated with a project of this magnitude. 

Cumulative Effects Assessment Toolbox

Ty Summerville, GISP


The Cumulative Effect Assessment toolbox is a custom ArcGIS toolbox solution created by PBS&J for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District to assist in the permit review process of direct, indirect and cumulative environmental impact analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The goals of this pilot project, which focused on Galveston Island, Texas, were to collect all input data and develop an ArcGIS desktop tool that can be used and maintained by novice GIS users.  The simple solution allows users to apply standard methods and tools when reviewing permit applications.  Prior to this solution the Regulatory Branch of the Galveston District operated without standardized methods and tools when reviewing permit applications which resulted in frequent litigation related to cumulative effects assessments. This pilot project marks the beginning of an effort by the Galveston District to develop best practices for the analysis of environmental impacts of proposed development permit applications. 

Next Generation 9-1-1 GIS

Anthony Haddad

Contact One, Inc.

This presentation will investigate the industry trends of 9-1-1, GIS and communications.  Key elements which have an influence on the important role of GIS professionals in public safety, addressing and the appropriate use of technology will be identified.  Areas covered will include GIS technology innovation, example projects, rules and regulations and how GIS professionals will impact the future of public safety.

Storm Water GIS:  Managing a Large Scale GIS Project

Elizabeth Young, GISP

City Fort Worth 

The City of Fort Worth embarked on a project to map all Storm Water features inside the City limits.  The City’s goal is to develop a complete inventory of assets in order to respond to maintenance issues in a more timely matter, better respond during emergencies, improve customer service, and create a proactive approach to managing storm assets.  This four year project covers an area 347 square miles with a guess at approximately 40,000 inlets. 

This presentation will give an overview of the Storm Water Mapping project and the management of a large scale project with many moving parts.  It will cover some of the project management tools and documents used to oversee the project, the lessons learned along the way and what we believed worked as a project management team. 

Architectural, Historical Data Conversion and Management Process, as a part of an enterprise project, "Historical Site Management Tool"

Amy K. Bellande Gwin

The Geospatial Group

This paper describes the flat file to GIS conversation process for an enterprise spatial information system implementation called the Historical Site Management Tool, implemented by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in various steps from 2007 - 2010. This data conversion will be melded together (2010) into an enterprise GIS SQL database, accessed by people with various permissions  through a custom website interface to the SQL database, ArcGIS Server, and a custom Flex web map. Our goal for this integration was to create the most accurate, and the most efficient strategy for using their files to obtain geographic locations in the GIS. A central service that MDAH Architectural and Archeological division provides, other than architectural preservation for the state of Mississippi, is approving state and federal work permits. This approval requires that the work not disturb any existing architectural sites, nor any potential architectural treasures. These sites can be defined by various historical significances, defined by federal, state, and local prerequisites. These records were kept in files, sorted by a regional multipart pin code, and the file contained supporting documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, and sometimes nothing. In addition to the flat files, there was an Access database with additional information on the properties, including a file number. This paper outlines the methods we used to create geospatial data from a large file room of complicated file taxonomy and some-what accurate maps, as well as the considerations we took including: future growth, integration into enterprise GIS, architecture design, data services, integration into the enterprise GIS. The process was specific to MDAH, but the roadblocks we faced are common to this type of conversion, and we found many efficient ways to overcome them.

3D Mobile Mapping

Dave Henderson

Topcon Positioning Systems

The building and management of a Geographic Information System and infrastructure asset information requires an organization to collect reliable and accurate field data.

Pressure for organization’s to do more with less, increasing operational efficiency and productivity while reducing operating cost is a major theme. This combined with limited resources and capital constraints, while still maintaining high quality standards of data accuracy and reliability is a market driver to find alternative solutions for the acquisition of infrastructure asset data.

A new paradigm for the acquisition of field data has recently emerged, allowing GIS, Surveying and mapping professionals to capture highly accurate 3D data at highway speeds, safely from a vehicle.

3D mobile mapping systems allow a user to collect millions of points at once, and then distill that information down, for use in many different applications.  This flexible system acquires accurate 3D “point cloud” data integrated with 360 ̊ spherical color digital images.

From the 3D model user’s can extract GIS feature / attribute and metadata information for storage and access in their GIS database. Data can be accessed at any time from the office, and information can be mined and extracted based on the user’s changing GIS mapping requirements.

The visual imaging information combined with point cloud and feature / attribute information provide stakeholders with a thorough and complete dataset of infrastructure asset information.

Texas GIS Data Acquisition Challenges the Time-Space-Government Continuum

Felicia Retiz

Texas Natural Resources Information System

Texas has a long and rich legacy of cooperation across all levels of government in developing and sharing important geospatial datasets.  The dominant model of providing no fee access to data has built millions of dollars in statewide collections of imagery, elevation, hydrography and topographic maps.  A new model has been established that brings greater efficiency to developing key data sets and is creating new opportunities for achieving greater value and access to data. The new High Priority Imagery and Datasets contract has dissolved traditional barriers to partnerships and barriers to efficiently acquiring data from pre-qualified data providers.

Exploring One Community. Developing an Environmental Baseline Study.
Scott Sires

Brookhaven College

'What's the difference?', a question this project investigated. How connected are the Earth's natural systems? How healthy are these natural systems and do my actions affect them? How much do I really consume? Brookhaven College students launched into a multi-year project to collect and analyze geospatial data for the purpose of reaching a higher understanding of the environment and our influences upon it. Learning is enhanced when the content of the course is related to the environment in which the study takes place. 16 students and 4 instructors worked with The GIS Institute to invest 9 days at Lighthouse Reef, Belize. Participants performed 6 days of surveys in 3 teams: Bathymetric Mapping Survey, Shoreline Debris Survey and the Biota Survey. 960 hours of collection samples were then loaded into the ArcMarine data model for visualization, analysis and revelations. This presentation is the experienced result of the inaugural field study.

Intuitive Mobile Solutions for Your Data Sharing Challenges

Lon Cornell

TerraGo Technologies

Organizations are now looking to the multi-million dollar investments

that have been made in GIS systems to deliver new competitive advantages, whether it is more efficient field operations and resources, more informed decision-making capabilities, or improved customer response time and service.  The purpose of this presentation will be to highlight the impact of mobile location-based technologies on traditional GIS departments and to help leaders anticipate the additional pressure their teams will face in this new world of anytime, anywhere access to spatial information. 

Sign Inventory

Allison Alford

Western Data Systems

With the newly updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) 2009 regulations for highway signs, now is the time to inventory your assets.  We will discuss the various methods & equipment available to simultaneously meet the new regulations & populate your GIS.

Water Distribution, Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater Geospatial Network Modeling of Municipalities and Utilities

Randy McDaniel and Shar Govindan

Bentley Systems Inc

GIS Data can be used to load hydraulic models which are used to analyze and design critical infrastructure important to every zip code in every country. Data from multiple GIS layers are fed into hydraulic calculation engines and converted into useful information directly within the GIS platform. This information can be used to analyze an existing system, do forensic analysis and also compare an unlimited number of 'What-if' future designs side-by-side in both tabular and graphical formats. Genetic algorithm optimization engines can be used to calibrate the system using field data, find potential problem areas and also design the system based on 'limited budget, best performance or multiobjective' criteria. GIS users can natively leverage the geodatabase architecture for modeling over extended periods of time. Geospatial modules help you allocate demands and loads from geocoded meters and elevation from digital maps automatically, while extracting data and topology from your geospatial data sets, SCADA and external databases. GIS data can be interpolated to fill missing information and cleaned using geospatial tools. In addition to reducing construction and energy costs, water professionals can simulate contamination, fires flow scenarios, pipe breaks, and power outages and find the best operational strategies to address them. Water consumption, flow monitoring, land use, or census data from GIS can be loaded to automatically estimate and import sanitary inflows. Fully-dynamic engines are able to model overflows, looped storm and sewer networks, wastewater pump stations, and even open channels and detention ponds. GIS information processed with dynamic engines can be used to stay in compliance with NPDES and EPA regulations. GIS professionals are able to implement hydraulic and hydrologic tools and make important decisions for advancing human civilization. 

Texas Federal Geographic Information Workshop

Claire DeVaughan

U.S. Geological Survey

The Texas Federal Geographic Information Workgroup (TFGIW) is comprised of representatives from Federal agencies whom have a direct interest in mapping and/or geospatial data in Texas. The meeting agenda will include agency recaps of current projects and initiatives, discussion about data needs, and other topics such as metadata, standards development, and collaboration opportunities.  This meeting is open to anyone who has an interest in Federal activities in Texas or surrounding states.

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