GIS

Environmental Conditions Online

Your One Stop Shop for Maps and Geographic Information cteco.uconn.edu

CT ECO website on a computer screenTechnology has expanded the mapping world. No longer are maps static and flat. They are now interactive, zoom able and clickable. They allow focus on a location or a question and enable us to explore our backyard, town, state and world.

The Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online (CT ECO) website has become the de facto place in Connecticut to access statewide interactive maps. Anyone can browse natural resource layers, aerial imagery, elevation and more. In 2019, over 30,000 people explored Connecticut by visiting CT ECO, which is a partnership between Extension faculty from the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Because not all (or probably even most) of those 30,000 people are Geographic Information System (GIS) experts, CT ECO is designed to meet the needs of visitors with varying levels of technical expertise. Alongside all of the maps is an extensive amount of complementary information in the form of Data Guides, Help documents and How-to explanations.

The simplest map access is through the Map Catalog, that contains over 9000 pdf maps that cover every town in Connecticut. These same maps can be purchased at the CT DEEP store in Hartford.

There are currently 12 interactive Map Viewers on CT ECO and the list is growing. Popular Viewers include the Simple and Advanced Map Viewers, both of which contain a long list of map layers mostly maintained by CT DEEP. The Elevation Viewer hosts the state’s elevation information in the form of highly detailed ground topography including elevation values as well as hillshade, slope, aspect and 1-foot contours. Also incredibly useful is the Aerial imagery Viewer that contains 12 statewide sets of aerial imagery between 1990 and 2019 along with six coastal and regional datasets.

Project-based viewers are topically focused. The Long Island Sound Blue Plan Viewer is one of the most recent, providing access to the long list of data layers that are part of the Long Island Sound Blue Plan. Other Viewers include Sea Level Rise and Coastal Road Flooding Viewer, the Aquaculture Mapping Atlas, the CT MS4 Viewer that focuses on stormwater and the DEEP Inland Waters Fish Community Data Viewer.

Finally, mapping professionals and enthusiasts can connect to CT ECO map and image “services” within their desktop or online GIS. The Map and Image Services page lists the over 100 available services.

Users, Uses, and Benefits

Responses to a survey conducted regarding the value of CT ECO revealed the breadth of users. They come from private business, state agencies (like Department of Transportation, Department of Economic and Community Development, Department of Safety and Public Protection, Department of Labor, CT DEEP and even the Office of Film, TV & Digital Media), regional and local government, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, utilities, citizens and more.

CT ECO is also used by hikers, landscape architects, land trusts and metal detectorist clubs (who knew?). The wide audience reflects the broad uses of CT ECO, such as preparing site assessments, permit applications and permit review, engineering projects, traffic plans, wetlands applications like identifying vernal pools, review of site conditions, identifying zoning violations, locating addresses, habitat suitability models, trail maps, forestry, coastal resilience, mining archaeology, appraisals, school projects and more.

It is difficult to put a dollar value on the services provided by CT ECO. Certainly having a central, statewide repository for mapping data, limited as it might be, reduces redundancy and increases efficiency. Many respondents from the survey report saving significant amounts of both money and time. Several users estimate saving over $100,000, with others stating that the time saved is “immeasurable.”

A State of Connecticut GIS professional said, “CT ECO has become the default location for accessing GIS data within the State of Connecticut. The work that the CT ECO staff has done to provide this data to the public has been nothing short of extraordinary.” It is exciting that UConn Extension is filling the critical need for so many different users and uses of Connecticut’s geospatial information.

Article by Emily Wilson

New Template for Mapping Your Stormwater System

A new tool is available to make it easier for communities to create or enhance a map of their stormwater system. The CT GIS Network‘s Standards Committee has collaborated with the CT Department of Transportation (CTDOT)to develop a Stormwater System Mapping Template. The template provides a framework for mapping everything from your catch basins to your stormwater outfalls and everything in betw

Stormwater mapping guru Cary Chadwick tests out ipad mapping on the UConn Avery Point campus.
Stormwater mapping guru Cary Chadwick tests out iPad mapping on the UConn Avery Point campus.

een. It is geared toward meeting the requirements for system mapping found in the MS4 general permit, but is useful for any community looking to get a better handle on its stormwater drainage network.

The template is available in three different formats on the mapping page of UConn CLEAR’s Online MS4 Guide:

  1. a spreadsheet (if you don’t speak GIS and want to look at the template in Excel to see what categories there are),
  2. a geodatabase (if you want to create a new Esri geodatabase in your GIS), or
  3. an XML Schema (if you want to import the schema into an existing or new Esri geodatabase)

CTDOT is using this schema to map their entire statewide drainage network over the next 10 years.  It is hoped that by working toward a standardized format for this information, the sharing of interconnections information between the state system and town and institution systems will be easier. Thus, even if you have already started mapping your system, it would be useful to review the new template to see how DOT is collecting, and will soon be sharing their data.

If you have any questions about the new template, contact cary.chadwick@uconn.edu or david.dickson@uconn.edu.

 

Posted on September 4, 2019

Originally published by  http://clear.uconn.edu/index.htm

Gregory Desautels: Reflection on my Extension Internship

Gregory Desautels interned with Dr. Mike Dietz of UConn Extension in the summer of 2019, working with Dr. Dietz on projects for UConn CLEAR. Gregory has continued working with Dr. Dietz on projects funded by Connecticut Sea Grant during the fall 2019 semester. In the article below, Gregory reflected on his summer internship.

Greg standing behind wooden tables during a summer project for his internship
Greg Desautels during his summer 2019 Extension internship. Photo: Mike Dietz

Through my summer as an Extension intern at the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR), I learned skills and had experiences, which may shape my future.  I learned technical skills, working in GIS programs such as Arc Pro and AGOL, as well as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. I improved my organizational skills, learning how to manage multiple iterations and edits of data files so they could be referenced in the future.  I learned how to work independently and improved my problem solving while working on projects that were challenging, and sometimes over my head. Finally, I was able to practice communicating with coworkers and supervisors.

The technical skills that I developed this summer were one of the most valuable parts of this experience. Through projects such as the Shellfishing Atlas and Campus LID Map, I had to use many of the skills developed in my previous GIS classes. Furthermore, these projects required me to work outside the confines of my previous experiences and to learn new skills, often by reading tutorials and self-teaching. In programs such as Excel, which I had previously considered myself adept, I found that there was still a lot to learn, and hands on experience was the best way to do so. I consider these experiences valuable not only for the skills learned, but also in learning how to teach myself. In my career, I expect there will be times when I do not know how to solve a problem and I will need to use all the resources available to learn how to solve it.

Organizational skills, specifically in reference to managing files for GIS were one of the most practical skills that I developed. Through my own processes of trial and error, as well as through new iterations becoming available, I was often left with multiple seemingly identical files with small but vital differences. My previous nomenclature wasn’t sufficient to keep track of all these files, however several of my coworkers taught me how to build and manage file databases. This has allowed for a cleaner workflow and the ability to backtrack and reference previous steps, both important skills when working in GIS.

This internship was also a valuable experience in communication. In communicating with coworkers, supervisors

Greg using an electric screw driver to place legs on tables
Photo: Mike Dietz

and faculty members, I learned to adapt my communications to them. As someone who defaults to excessive formality, I often had to tone back and learn how to match someone else’s level. I found that the formal “Thank You, double space, sincerely, double space, signature” format lauded by schools is not always practical or necessary and that being overly formal can actually hinder clear communication.

In terms of my career goals, I don’t feel that this summer has wildly altered my trajectory, however I do feel that I have a better understanding of what to expect. Seeing the “behind the scenes” work related to securing grants and funding, as well as how this office fits into the larger body of UConn has been eye-opening. This internship was valuable in more ways that I can say, and I am confident that as I progress through my career, I will find many more instances where this experience has helped me.

Article by Gregory Desautels, CLEAR Intern Reflection

Nigerian Visitors

Dr. YA Umar and Dr. DB Maikaje from the Nigerian Defense Academy (it is similar to West Point) traveled to the UConn Extension office in Haddam last week. They took our Geospatial Training Program’s 3-day Geographic Information System (GIS) training course with Cary Chadwick and Emily Wilson. Dr. Umar and Dr. Maikaje are both epidemiologists in the Pathobiology department who are hoping to use what they learn to track/map the incidence of various diseases in Nigeria.

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Cary_BubaMaikaje stated, “What we discovered was an atmosphere completely conducive to effective research. When people are open to sharing and willing to help each other, it makes for a rewarding academic environment. And that’s exactly what we found here. We are terribly impressed.”

Chet Arnold, director for outreach at CLEAR, notes that even though the request from Nigeria was unusual, in the past five years Chadwick and Wilson have trained more than 1,000 individuals in the use of GIS, GPS, online mapping, and other geospatial technologies at the Extension office in Haddam. In addition, they have been conducting courses in online mapping techniques for researchers and extension specialists in the Land Grant and Sea Grant university systems around the country, as part of a four-year grant funded by the USDA.

4-H Saturday Science

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Youth at the 4-H Saturday Science program.

Denise Coffey of the Reminder News covered the first 4-H Saturday Science Program at Windham County Extension:

“The Windham County Extension Center in Brooklyn hosted the first 4-H Science Saturday on Nov. 16. Program Coordinator Marc Cournoyer led a group of youngsters through “Maps and Apps,” an exercise in map-reading and map-making. With nods to technology and Rand McNally, the kids were given a chance to design their own maps.

The program is part of a larger effort on the part of national 4-H to boost the scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical skills and interests of youngsters. “Maps and Apps” was the national 4-H science experiment held for 4-Hers across the country. The experiment on Saturday required participants to use geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), grid paper and their own creativity in coming up with a map they could call their own.”

Read more…