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Environmental Science Division

Geospatial Portals

EVS leverages commercial and open-source standards and software to develop rich, interactive web-based portals to geospatial datasets and accompanying models.

Environmental research and problem solving involve large, complex geospatial datasets and associated models that must be integrated, managed, and disseminated to user communities. The users can range from a handful of specialized researchers studying fundamental processes to large general audiences in the case of environmental impact statements that generate significant public interest. 

The challenge is to provide cost-effective, intuitive portals to user communities—ideally portals flexible enough to include new datasets and models as they become available, and readily scalable to accommodate audiences of any size. 

Commercial software such as Esri’s Portal and Server products provide out-of-the-box geospatial frameworks that can be adapted readily to a wide variety of needs. Commercial products offer turnkey portals for a variety of applications and can be a cost-effective, efficient solution in many cases. EVS has experience extending and adapting Esri frameworks and portals to address project-specific needs for settings as varied as facility management, enterprise geographic information systems (GIS), field data collection support, and homeland security. 

Open-source standards and supporting software frameworks for geospatial information have recently matured significantly, so they can become the sole basis for developing web portals for environmental applications. An example software stack includes PostGIS as the geospatial database, GeoServer as the mapping server, GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) and Python for advanced spatial modeling, Ruby on Rails as the application server, OpenLayers for map interaction, and Javascript frameworks for the clientside application.  

EVS has developed innovative web-based geospatial portals that leverage open-source standards and software, in work for DOE and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The following are some examples: 

  • The Energy Zones Mapping Tool, for federal and state planners, nongovernmental organizations, grid operators, and energy industry professionals interested in clean energy development in the eastern United States. 

  • Solar Energy Environmental Mapper (Solar Mapper), providing customized public access to utility-scale solar energy resources and related siting factors in the six southwestern states studied in the Solar PEIS (Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement). 

  • The Section 368 Energy Corridor Mapping Tool, for viewing data on energy corridors, existing pipeline and electric transmission line infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources within and adjacent to the corridors. This tool facilitates feedback on corridor reviews through online commenting and access to corridor abstracts. 

EVS is particularly well suited for these innovative projects, whether they involve open-source approaches, commercial products, or a blend of the two. EVS has more than 25 years of experience in applying GIS in environmental analyses; a dedicated team of experienced web interface and server-side programmers; a solid technical foundation in supporting environmental disciplines such as ecology, hydrology, climatology, and environmental engineering; and expertise in high-performance computing and big data challenges embodied in the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.