Helping Fight Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans

The presence of plastics in the world’s water systems is a critical environmental and health crisis. They cause pollution by entering natural ecosystems from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. Compounding on the threat of plastics is inefficiencies in current recycling practices. Our current model for recycling relies on consumers to recycle. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generate more than 267 million tons of solid waste every year. In 2017, only 94.2 million tons (35%) of that waste was either recycled or composted and only 8% of discarded plastics were recycled that year.

Image: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Plastics Material Specific Data

Kamilo, a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to the reduction of global plastic waste, has partnered with Innovate to track the journey of plastic from waste to a recycled product. Kamilo buys plastics from municipalities (e.g., 2000lbs of plastic) and ensures that the plastic is actually recycled/reused. Leveraging the power of geographic information system (GIS), Kamilo creates a verifiable link between plastic recovered and its actual re-use through global supply chain tracking. This model provides businesses that sell recyclable plastic (e.g., bottles) a way to guarantee that their plastic output is matched in recycled material via real-time geospatial verification of source and successful recovery. This innovative technology brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the global plastics supply chain and recycled plastics markets.

Innovate is helping Kamilo’s data management by using blockchain to store data and provide verification of accuracy. Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. Using blockchain ensures indisputable evidence that the plastic asset existed and tracked to its final resting place. This is a unique solution because it merges GIS data with blockchain’s data model.

Kamilo’s innovative approach offers businesses a way to take ownership of their plastic footprint in the environment and deter plastics from entering the world’s water systems. As a green-focused company, Innovate is proud to be a partner in this effort.

Innovate! Celebrates the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies 2021

Clean air is critical to the environment and human health. As awareness on this important issue increases, communities are calling for action to improve air quality around the world and the United Nations General Assembly has designated 7 September as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The theme for this year’s International Day of Clean Air for blue skies is “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet” which emphasizes the health effects of air pollution, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Day aims to prioritize the need for healthy air while keeping conversations broad enough to encompass other critical issues such as climate change, human and planetary health as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. It serves as a rallying call to action to collectively align efforts and claim the right to clean air.

As a small business team with a focus on supporting green missions, Innovate understands the importance of clean air and we have supported several initiatives to help protect communities from poor air quality.

Innovate uses AirNow data – the biggest network of air sensors across the country – to monitor air quality across the Environmental Protection’s Agency (EPA) Region 9s servicing Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, and 148 Tribal Nations. Air Quality Index (AQI) values are received from monitoring sites that report to AirNow. AQI levels of health concern inform the population how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern. Innovate developed a custom notification system, leveraging email and MMS, to notify users (e.g., EPA Office of Air and Radiation) when the air quality dips below a certain threshold within their area of interests. Innovate also developed an ArcGIS Hub Site with embedded maps and statistics to provide useful information at-a-glance. In addition, we have developed custom widgets such as the Wind and Smoke for EPA’s Common Operating Picture (COP).

Another way Innovate helps with air quality is as a subcontractor to EPA for the National Air Toxic Assessment (NATA) web application. This application displays data about air quality and air quality monitors. Innovate built several widgets, two of them being custom widgets for this application (Change Symbology and Summary). The change symbology widget allows the user to the change symbology of data layers within the application including modifying classes, the number of classes and the field that the symbology is based on. The Summary tool allows the user to explore the statistics behind several of the data layers (Cancer Risk, Respiratory Hazard Index, and Ambient Concentrations) based on a user defined area. The statistics produced by this widget are dependent on the layer selected but include the number of features selected, minimum, maximum, average, and for the Cancer Risk data, Cancer Risk weighted by Population.

Innovate also currently supports as a subcontractor the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation’s Engines and Vehicles Compliance Information Systems (EV-CIS). EV-CIS collects emissions and fuel economy compliance information for all types of vehicles (mobile sources of air pollution) which includes light-duty, heavy-duty, nonroad engines and motorcycles. Engine and vehicle manufacturers report this information to the system.

Together, we can help improve our quality of air around the world. Healthy Air, Healthy Planet!

Innovate! Inc. Awarded Arbor Day Foundation’s Corporate Partners Dashboard Contract

Innovate! Inc. (Innovate) is proud to announce the award of Arbor Day Foundation’s Corporate Partners Dashboard contract. The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the world’s largest operating conservation organizations, with more than one million members, supporters, and valued partners. Due to their efforts, more than 350 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities, and forests throughout the world. Under this contract, Innovate will develop an accessible, dynamic, and visually compelling application to help showcase Arbor Day Foundation’s corporate partner impact. This is a new competitively awarded contract for Innovate.

Arbor Day Foundation’s vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty, and hunger. Innovate is excited to support Arbor Day Foundation in elevating their impact reporting, simplifying their potential and current partner relationship experience, and telling more accessible and science-informed stories. This contract will involve leveraging geographic information systems (GIS), system architecture design, web application development, backend data management and integration, dashboard creation, and operations and maintenance support.

Innovate GIS/IT Director Frank Roberts notes, “My team and I are very excited about working with the Arbor Day Foundation.  This project will help individuals and organizations understand the impact of their donations on communities and forests across the world.”

Innovate is proud to work with Arbor Day Foundation and continue our 19 years of support for environmental missions serving organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Department of Interior (DOI), and the Idaho Forest Group. Innovate has also previously provided GIS capabilities for non-profit organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Catholic Relief Services. We are particularly excited to support Arbor Day Foundation’s mission, as Innovate is also a “green” company, reducing company carbon emissions through our entirely remote staff and sponsoring the Global Cooling Network, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving our nation’s forests and the environment.

About Innovate! Inc: More Than a Consulting Company

Innovate provides expertise in geospatial, information technology, cloud advisory, and management and business consulting services. The talent pool at Innovate, led by renowned industry leaders, consists of a multi-disciplinary team of analysts; information management and technology specialists (IM/IT); geospatial professionals; technical experts; regulatory specialists; and project and program management consultants. Innovate, established in 2002, is a woman- and minority-owned “green” small business providing results-driven solutions to solve mission-critical problems. Innovate has an award-winning history of delivering state-of-the-art services and solutions to federal, state, tribal, local government, and private industry clients.

Innovate’s Salesforce Product Owner Team Lead Recognized as Tableau Ambassador

Stacey Cogswell, Innovate’s Salesforce Product Owner Team Lead, was recently recognized as a Tableau CRM Ambassador. Formerly Einstein Analytics, Tableau CRM Ambassadors are power users of the native analytics and AI solution for Salesforce. They love to share their expertise in this specialized platform, and provide a bridge between the Salesforce Trailblazer community and the Tableau community.

In 2019, Salesforce launched the Analytics Champion Program. The Analytics Champion Program was for Salesforce Trailblazers who wanted to share their advanced knowledge with peers while evangelizing the power of the Einstein Analytics Platform. An expert on the Platform, Stacey was ready to be considered for the first cohort of Analytics Champions. An application and acceptance later, Stacey was rewarded with opportunities to collaborate more closely with Salesforce product teams and was given opportunities to present at Salesforce and community events, webinars, and support workshops.

For Stacey, being a Tableau CRM Ambassador is a carry over from her time as an Analytics Champion. Programs such as this open doors to share knowledge of the Platform with the larger Salesforce community. Stacey has shared hands-on workshops with Salesforce users across the country, including the Oakland Salesforce Saturday and Houston Salesforce User Group. 

Trailblazers are pioneers, innovators, and lifelong learners. They inspire others with their constant innovation, by transforming the customer experience, and by growing their careers. Trailblazers drive change.” Colin Fleming | SVP, Global Brand & Cross Product Marketing, Salesforce

Find out more about Stacey in our employee spotlight when she was recognized as a 4th time Salesforce MVP early this year.

Innovate is a woman-and-minority owned small business providing expertise in Geospatial, Information Technology, Cloud Advisory, and Business Management Consulting services. We provide services to a range of partners including Federal, State, Tribal and local government clients and private industry. Innovate is a Silver Partner company in the global Esri Partner Network that has demonstrated innovative and creative ways to solve our client’s greatest challenges, using geospatial analytics tools.

Innovate Employee Spotlight: Max Marno, GIS Developer

What is your role at Innovate? 

I am a GIS Developer and I build and maintain mapping software, both desktop and web-based applications.

What have been some of your top accomplishments and success stories?

I’ve been proud to launch our Drone Services offering. We’re on an exciting trajectory – I look forward to drumming up more business and being able to compete in this emerging marketplace. Innovate bought a drone in late 2020 and I completed a demo project for the City of Driggs, Idaho. From there, we secured a couple of paying projects through word of mouth. The actual flying of the drones is the easiest part; the flight planning and post-processing of the data afterward is what takes most of the time and effort.

What has been your favorite project so far?

Revamping the Wind Widget for EPA Region 9 has been an ongoing project that I’ve enjoyed. The result is a very stimulating visualization of forecasted wind vectors based on a few different models. Behind the scenes there’s a lot going on to download, preprocess, and convert the data into a format where it can be displayed in the browser. I appreciate working with the complicated wind model data, and take part in the widget design.  

What does Innovate’s mission and core values mean to you?

Part of the reason that I chose to take a job with Innovate is that those core values resonate with me. I believe in having integrity behind the work that you do and taking an interest in the people you work with on a personal level outside of work. The environmental stewardship that Innovate is participating in is really respectable and hopefully setting an example for other companies in our industry, and of our size.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I honestly like what I do most of the time. I like problem-solving, I like learning and both I get to do on the job a fair bit. The reward that comes with kind of wrapping your head around something and figuring out the solution or what needs to be done is gratifying.

What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

I suppose all of these are going to sound fairly cliched but careers have been around for a while. I think if I try to deal with things as quickly as possible and not leave loose ends that would be the first I think. The second would be to ask for help. Definitely I’ve had and still do have instances where just asking someone else for their opinion or asking someone a question would have saved a lot of time; so not letting your pride get in the way or hubris is important. This is probably related but I think distinct enough to mention as the third, sometimes I think the best way to solve a problem is to set it down for a little while. Most of us have a tendency to just keep pulling on and on until it’s impossible to untie.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I grew up kind of in a rural part of Wyoming, and we had all sorts of animals running around all the time. I grew up with a pet donkey. His name was Wister (after Own Wister) and he was kind of the equivalent of a big dog who lived into his 20’s. He was a character and a great part of my childhood. While he wasn’t allowed in the house, per se, he figured out how to open the front door, and would try to come inside sometimes.

Innovate Employee Spotlight: Michael Logsdon, Change Management Subject Matter Expert

What is your role at Innovate? 

I am the Change Management Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Innovate. I focus on the people aspect of projects, which means making sure users are prepared to adopt the solutions our team develops. This involves aligning leadership of an organization around a change, building champions, communicating with all stakeholders, developing training, and establishing a plan to drive adoption and sustain the change.  

Why is change management important?  

We can build the best solution, but without change management, people either won’t know it exists or won’t know how to use it. If a solution isn’t marketed to users and explained how it works and how it will benefit them, they’re less likely to change and adopt the new solution. But when change management is part of a solution, people are more likely to understand the benefits and make the changes necessary for long-term adoption.   

What attracted you to apply at Innovate? How did you decide to work here? 

Before Innovate, my industry and job were impacted by COVID-19. As I reflected on what I wanted to do next in my career, I knew I wanted to do work with purpose and social impact. Innovate’s work with organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resonated with me. At the end of my career, I can point to my work here and know I helped make a difference. 

Also, I had never worked with a small company, so I was curious what that was like. I gave it a test ride as an independent contractor, and I found a great culture at Innovate. There was camaraderie, collaboration, and people willing to help each other. Working for a small business, it’s easier to get to know your co-workers, and Innovate maintains a close-knit workplace culture. It’s what convinced me to sign on the dotted line as an employee.  

What do Innovate’s mission and core values mean to you? 

What Innovate’s core value of “Love and Respect Human Beings” means to me is that the company cares about people and does work that makes a difference. Those are two of the factors I looked for in a role. Innovate not only maintains positive relationships with clients but also prioritizes the employees. The people-first aspect of Innovate is reflected in the work and how we interact with each other.  

What have been some of your top career lessons you’ve learned so far?  

If you’ve had to make a career change because of the pandemic, take time to reflect and identify three or four things that are important to you and make those the criteria for your next position. If you love the people aspect of projects, then change management is the place to be.  

Some general career advice: try to be open-minded and an active listener. We all think we know best, but when you’re surrounded by bright people, it’s valuable to sometimes be quiet and learn from others. Also, you don’t always have to be the leader. Even if you’re in a leadership position, it can be valuable to take a back seat and give others the opportunity to take the wheel. Lastly, it’s okay to take risks and fail, as long as you fail quickly and learn from those failures. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you won’t be penalized if you take that failure and move forward. Failure is key to innovation and progress, so you shouldn’t be afraid of it. 

Innovate’s Frank Roberts Recognized with, “Excellence in GIS Award,” from Northern Rockies URISA

Innovate celebrates GIS/IT Director, Mr. Frank Roberts, for receiving this year’s Excellence in GIS award from the President of Northern Rockies Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). The award was introduced in 2007 to celebrate GIS professionals in the Northern Rockies region who have made outstanding contributions to GIS and have helped build pathways to lift up and support colleagues and future GIS professionals.

Frank has been an active member of the geospatial community for over 30 years, working with a range of clients from federal agencies to commercial businesses. He was nominated by a colleague who shared Frank’s historical and extremely relevant GIS contributions. For all his achievements, Frank has never lost sight of supporting his local geospatial community. 

Congratulations Frank for this achievement and thank you for all your contributions to both Innovate and the geospatial community!

Innovae Earns ArcGIS Hub Specialty Designation

Innovate, a leading geospatial services organization established in 2002 and an Esri Silver Business Partner, received Esri’s ArcGIS Hub Specialty Designation for being ready to help new and existing customers get started with ArcGIS Hub.

Per Esri’s ArcGIS Hub Website, ArcGIS Hub is, “part of Esri Geospatial Cloud, ArcGIS Hub is an easy-to-configure community engagement platform that organizes people, data, and tools through information-driven initiatives. Organizations of any type and any size, including government agencies, nonprofit groups, and academia, can maximize engagement, communication, collaboration, and data sharing using the ArcGIS Hub initiative-based approach. With ArcGIS Hub, organizations can leverage their existing data and technology and work together with internal and external stakeholders to track progress, improve outcomes, and create vibrant communities.”

With the addition of ArcGIS Hub, Innovate now holds the following designations:

  • ArcGIS Indoors Specialty
  • ArcGIS Hub Specialty
  • ArcGIS for Local Government Specialty
  • ArcGIS Online Specialty
  • Federal Small Business Specialty
  • Release Ready Specialty

Innovate Earns Esri State and Local Government Specialty Partner Designation

Innovate has been designated by Esri as a State & Local Government Specialty Partner, recognizing our team’s, “expertise in state and local government, implementation, and delivery of services that help customers succeed.” The newly launched State & Local Government Specialty program is designed to help Esri customers identify providers with special expertise and substantial experience in working with local and state governments, and a track record in delivering value to these organizations.

Our dedicated team provides innovative geospatial technology solutions backed by decades of experience working with municipalities of all sizes.  Innovate has supported state and local entities with solution configuration, application development, enterprise implementations, system integrations, and strategic planning. Examples of previous projects include: City of Plummer – GIS Data Modeling, Kootenai County – Upgrade and Configuration of ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Portal, and Public GeoViewer Development, City of Ponderay – Configuration of ArcGIS Online, Hosted Data, and Web Viewers, and Bonner County – Parcel Conversion. 

In addition to the State & Local Government Specialty, Innovate holds a number of other Esri specialty designations:

  • ArcGIS Indoors Specialty
  • ArcGIS Hub Specialty
  • ArcGIS for Local Government Specialty
  • ArcGIS Online Specialty
  • Federal Small Business Specialty
  • Release Ready Specialty

Innovate!’s ArcGIS Online Request Tool

Innovate is excited to offer the ArcGIS Online Request Tool among our suite of Esri services. The ArcGIS Online Request Tool is a web-based tool to rapidly provision external user accounts to an ArcGIS Online Organization.

Problem Statement: Currently, users external to an organization’s ArcGIS Online can request access, but the process can be inefficient. After the request, the administrator creates an account, which requires information from the user to set permissions and settings, resulting in a back-and-forth exchange. Additionally, if there is a surge of access requests, it can be difficult for administrators to track all the requests and communications.

Innovate’s Solution: Innovate’s ArcGIS Online Request Tool streamlines the provisioning process for both users and administrators, saving time and creating a consistent, trackable process. New users submit their access request in the Request Tool through a tailored web-form, which collects all the information needed to create the account. The administrator can view a list of all pending accounts and then create accounts and assign them to ArcGIS Online groups. This transparent and trackable process mitigates duplicative accounts, especially during request surges. Additionally, users can use the Request Tool to request access to different groups, simplifying the permissions process for administrators.

Innovate has already rolled out this tool for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support emergency response events for the 2020 California wildfires. As field crews rotated on and off a response, administrators needed to set up accounts for the crews with short notice to allow them access to ArcGIS Online and update data in real-time. The Tool enabled administrators to respond to the sudden influx of accounts and allow rapid access to 109 new external users to access and update critical data with minimal effort.

Interested in adopting the ArcGIS Online Request Tool for your organization? Contact Frank Roberts at or 703-922-9090 ext. 723 to learn more.