Green Halloween and Earth Day – Living Green and Being Environmentally Conscious

An important component of Innovate! is valuing our environment and leading by example of what it means to operate a “green” and environmentally-conscious organization.  In 2010, the company founded the Global Cooling Network, a 501 ©3 non-profit to reflect Innovate!’s commitment to our planet. The mission of Global Cooling Network is to preserve the forested land in its natural, undeveloped state.

Innovate wall with green plantsPropelled by the “green” mission, over a decade ago, Lily and Phill Thomas came up with a few networking events that would focus on their “green” awareness objective while also bringing together partners, clients, and agencies to mingle and enjoy an evening of “getting to know” each other’s world.

Two of these events, Earth Day and “Green Halloween” became annual events that grew in popularity each year. Earth Day is held in the Spring, and Green Halloween is held at the end of October around the actual Halloween day. Both these events have provided an outreach opportunity to impart their “green” vision.  Each year for both events there is a “green” theme, displaying and offering natural, local and green alternatives for hosting a party.

Innovates Commitment treePhill Thomas, COO of Innovate! states, “While hosting a networking event, it also gives us an opportunity to bring awareness to our “green” mission with a “green” themed event.  Each year we spotlight something “green” for all to see and reflect upon.  This year we have on display our “Commitment Tree” where we hope that everyone adds a leaf to it reflecting a commitment for the year that will help our earth and the environment.”  Innovate! will also be giving away “Vampire Repellent” goody bags for guests to take home with them.

Vampire RepellantWhat is a “Vampire Repellent?” Phil’s clever idea was to offer cloves of garlic, a-la-Vampire Repellent, as a give-away to his guests for this year’s Green Halloween event.  Themes and giveaways of previous events included:

  • A wide selection of pesticides and fertilizers that had no harmful chemicals to make everyone aware that they did exist and they should be using them.
  • Organic selection of foods, including fresh produce, dairy products, breads and bakery goods that were all organically grown and handled.
  • Seedlings and packets of seeds of various plants and vegetables for guests to take home and plant.
  • Organic beers, ales and wines that were brewed by local breweries and vintners, with samples to taste so guests can get to know what is available to them locally. It also brings awareness of buying and supporting local businesses.
  • A bio-degradable theme whereby, all serving and paper good products that appetizers and foods are served on are bio-degradable. All foods served at these events are all served on environmentally safe, and bio-degradable products.

Innovate! To Present at the Fall Northeast ARC Users Group Conference in Sarasota Springs, NY.

NEGIS LogoMichael Blair, Digital Strategist and Geospatial Developer at Innovate! was asked to present at the NEARC Users Group Conference on October 28–October 31.

Read Michael Blair’s Insights about the Esri User Conferences.

Sign postMichael Blair’s GIS career started in the 90s from a small college in Bar Harbor, Maine where he got the opportunity to attend his first Esri User Conference held in Palm Springs, CA.  The Esri Conferences subsequently moved to San Diego, CA.  He appreciated the opportunity to attend this conference but didn’t have high expectations on what he would get from it.  Much to his surprise and pleasure his preconceived notion was dispelled and his GIS Conference experience was launched at that moment.

The sessions were informative, and what he found extremely valuable was networking with the attendees who were helpful, very knowledgeable and open to offering extensive advice to Michael.  Many of the people he met there are now colleagues of Michael’s and some friends that he communicates with frequently.

NEARC imageBeing asked to participate as a presenter for the Fall 2018 Northeast ARC Users Group Conference, in Saratoga Springs, NY is an honor for Michael and a great opportunity for Innovate!.  The NEARC Conference attracts GIS specialists from all over North America, that include developers, vendors, new users and those who are interested in seeing the value of GIS Technology and how it is applied to their own environment.  To be asked to present three professional talks is an exceptional accolade for Michael since not only will he be imparting his GIS knowledge but also representing Innovate! and the projects that his IT and GIS team of experts completed.  The presentations are Esri related projects that provided technology and solutions that impact the environment and the world.  These presentations include the Data Management Technology (DMT) application, the Floor Plan (HR Data Resource) application, and the Query Widget.  Read below to learn more about the abstracts of these presentations.

While imparting his GIS knowledge and solutions in the presentations, Michael also has the opportunity to talk about Innovate! and demonstrate the many solutions the company works on, and services they offer.  Michael states, “If I can leave Saratoga, NY connecting with one person, whether it’s giving a technical tidbit or how Innovate can assist them with projects, I’ll feel it was a success.”

NEARC Conference Presentations Include:

Data Management Technology Application
The DMT application provides a searchable, sortable, user-friendly interface that not only relates to all of the content but checks for the existence of and completeness of related documentation, including hosting environment, metadata, unique identifiers, update cycles, and sharing settings. The application serves as a live, single point of entry for all analysts to find resources, and immediately identify their location, accuracy, and relevance.

The new DMT leverages the backends of enterprise geodatabases in Microsoft SQL Server, ArcGIS for Server, and the ArcGIS Online API to harvest and relate features in all three Esri products. The system is deployed in each environment and automatically harvests items in the enterprise geodatabases and those related to map service layers, including the metadata for all ArcGIS Online items to identify if any contain rest services.

Floor Plan Application

Where am I GISInnovate! Inc. developed a web-based Floor Plan application tool for US EPA Region 9 that provides access to information about Region 9 people, places, and resources. It displays the current list of all Region 9 employees, including contractors, grantees, volunteers (if any), and other EPA and federal agency staff stationed in R9. It also provides detailed floor plans for each space at EPA R9 Headquarters, other regional offices and place-based individuals. There are many layers that can be turned on that offer details of resources and emergency information for the building. Click here to view the video demo.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=436&v=Awu7jVUc1X8.

The application was built using ArcGIS API for JavaScript and ArcGIS Server and integrates AutoCAD floor plan data.  Innovate was honored with a Federal Small Business Specialty (FSBS) Award during the Esri FedGIS Conference and named Esri’s 2018 Innovation Partner for our innovative usage of Esri technology in support of our client’s operations (https://www.innovateteam.com/innovate-inc-honored-at-esri-fedgis-conference-as-2018-innovation-partner/).

The Query Widget

The Query widget is great for predefined searches, however, what do you do when you want to find data across multiple attributes and many unique values per attribute?  Innovate! solved that problem by developing a custom widget to make use of a unique value SQL view to serve the data dynamically through a service.  The widget then consumes the JSON response and builds a multi-selection search interface.  Additionally, there is a geographic filtering function that allows for the querying to be conducted within a drawn geometry.

Innovate! Volunteers Dive In Again for the Ocean Conservancy’s 33rd International Coastal Cleanup

Coastal Cleanup ResultsOctober 13 was the Ocean Conservancy’s 33rd annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Each year, millions of tons of trash—including an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste—enter our oceans through rivers, waterways and beaches, injuring and killing wildlife, polluting coastlines, and even entering the food chain with the potential to harm human health. The annual International Coastal Cleanup goes a long way to dealing with this problem.

Since its launch on a single beach in Texas in 1986, the event now spans the globe, with 100 participating countries and hundreds of thousands of volunteers all committing to a single-day of practical environmental action – a beach cleanup. Over the last three decades, this yearly coastal cleanup has helped to remove a total of 250 million pounds (113 million kilograms) of trash from beach coastlines and waterways.

Last year alone almost 800,000 volunteers helped to collect 9.3 million kilograms (20.5 million pounds) of trash, much of it single-use disposable plastic.

ICC volunteersInnovate’s team was comprised of friends and family. Michele Carneiro, a Proposal Manager with Innovate, participated alongside her mother, husband, and mother-in-law.  “We participated in this event last year and it’s now a family tradition. It was really rewarding to watch my mom’s reaction when she saw all the plastics in the water, it lit a fire. We’re bringing a swimming pool skimmer next year to reach further along the coast!”

“I am frustrated by the lack of action to do better for the environment. This is our home and one of a kind – there is no ‘Plan B’ back-up planet. Events like the International Coastal Cleanup are a much-needed reminder that there are others that care. Every bit helps so thank you!”

Special thanks to the volunteers around the world who participated in the clean-up and to the Ocean Conservancy for organizing the effort!

Ocean Cleanup collageAs a “green” company Innovate! welcomes opportunities to participate in and to help bring awareness about our environment.  We take health and environmental issues to heart.  We sponsor a 501c (3) organization, the Global Cooling Network, globalcoolingnetwork.org, that works to preserve forested land in its natural undeveloped state. We design, develop, and implement systems and processes to monitor environmental risks. We also bring a global, analytical perspective to large-scale threats to human health.

We pride ourselves in being environmentally aware and knowing how we impact the world is indicative of how we live our lives.

 

 

Innovate! to Present at the 2018 NW Utility GIS User Conference, October 2-3 in Spokane, WA

map of an electrical grid

ArcGIS Electrical Utility Map

Frank Roberts, Innovate!’s Director of IT and Geospatial Solutions, will present a success story of how we used ArcGIS Online and Collector to modernize the City of Plummer, Idaho’s electrical distribution system. We built a cloud-based GIS system utilizing ArcGIS Online to identify pole locations collected via a GPS-enabled mobile device and Collector application. Innovate! is excited to be a part of this two-day event that provides the opportunity for IT and utility professionals to network and learn about the latest information in the industry.

Innovate!’s Wind Widget Developed to Support Fire and Typhoon Response in Region 9

Addressing the smoke and wind challenge of wild fires in Northern California and the typhoons in the Pacific, Innovate!’s wind widget for the R9 Common Operating Picture (COP) GeoViewer, offers an innovative solution.

For more information on the technology;

Satelite image of wind forecasting

Innovate!’s Smoke Technology Supports Fire Response in Region 9

Innovate!’s R9 GIS team developed a smoke widget for the R9 Common Operating Picture (COP) to display forecasted smoke levels (PM 2.5) generated by the US Forest Service (USFS) Research and Development (R&D).

For more information on the technology;

Satellite view of western states with smoke forecast

Kilauea lava flow added to EPA R9 Common Operation Picture (COP) Viewer

In support of EPA Region 9  (R9) Emergency response, Innovate has added the functionality to map the status of the Kilauea lava flow to the R9 Common Operation Picture  (COP) Viewer.

Kilauea lava flow

The R9 COP is used to support emergency response across EPA Region 9 which covers California, Nevada, Arizona, Guam, American Samoa and Hawaii.  The  COP is built using Esri Web AppBuider template with a variety of custom widgets that were created for EPA by Innovate. Kilauea lava flow data has been made avaible as a public service by Esri.Kilauea lava flow

Innovate Staff Work Critical to Wildfire Mapping and Emergency Response Efforts

(Text modified to highlight the work of Innovate staff.    Story courtesy the USGS EROS Around the Center Article.)

When a wildfire rages across the landscape, the danger seldom ends with a fading ember.  Danger often lurks after a fire dies as rain unleashes a muddy slurry of water, soil, vegetation, and boulders down steep slopes.

Post-fire response teams rely on  Landsat imagery and the associated remote-sensing products derived, in part, at USGS EROS near Sioux Falls, SD, for the projections that help response teams prepare for the worst.

Innovate staff such as Claudia Young, Stephen Palka, Jacob Casey, and Roger Sneve help to produce a Differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) index shortly after a wildfire ends. The index relies on pre- and post-fire Landsat images of the burned area to capture a range of values signifying either an uptick or decrease in greenness across the fire’s footprint. The more negative the values, the more greenness. The greater the magnitude of the positive values, you can interpret that as the more severely the fire impacted the surface cover.

A Satellite map image of the area of a fire

The LANDFIRE (LF) Data Access Tool (LFDAT) is an ArcGIS toolbar that allows users to interact with the LF Data Distribution Site (DDS) and download LF data all from ArcMap.

Those values are then categorized into four loosely defined classes: unburned, low-burn severity, moderate severity, and high severity. That information is transformed into Burned Area Reflectance Classification (BARC) data that are provided to Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams to use in the field as a guide for more in-depth field measurements and observations of fire damage.

As quickly as possible, the BAER teams turn all that information into Soil Burn Severity Maps, which are used to stabilize landscapes where needed and hopefully prevent further damage to life, communities, property, or natural resources.

Burn maps to support BAER teams are actually produced by both EROS and the USDA Forest Service’s Geospatial Technology and Applications Center (GTAC).  GTAC burn maps cover primarily Forest Service and Department of Agriculture lands.  EROS takes care of the Department of Interior-managed lands.

That’s important for several reasons. Hillside soils, vegetation, and rocks no longer anchored by forested mountainsides can pose erosion and runoff risks to water quality in the area. That in turn can impact fish and other habitat. To help prevent that, post-fire mitigation efforts often include quickly reseeding, or putting up barriers to redirect future mud and debris flows.

What Innovate staff are trying to accomplish is about more than making dNBR indices and BARC maps. It’s about savings lives, about protecting communities and natural resources, long after the last ember has cooled.  With Innovate’s help, with GTAC and the Landslide Hazards Program and all the work of the BAER and Watershed Emergency Response Teams (WERT), it appears they are succeeding at that.

Innovate Science Staff Helps to Answer Water-Use Question in Upper Klamath Basin

(The following article recently appeared in the USGS EROS Center’s online forum called “Around the Center.”   It was modified to highlight the work of Innovate Scientist Matt Schauer.)

In the upper Klamath River Basin of southern Oregon, Innovate scientist Matt Schauer and his colleagues at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center are working to help solve this complex water use question:   When it comes to water, when does less really mean more?

The answer is important to various interests across the basin, where drought in recent years has resulted in insufficient water for agriculture and aquatic life, especially fish listed as endangered. One of the keys to managing the water resources is understanding not only how much water flows into Upper Klamath Lake, but how management of water resources in streams affects flow into that lake as well.

Upper Klamath is an important body of water for many reasons. It’s home to endangered suckers. It also is the source of water for irrigation on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project. Droughts in recent years have forced regulators to reduce or stop irrigation withdrawals from streams that flow into the lake, giving rise to the question: How much water then is flowing into Upper Klamath Lake from the reduction in irrigation?

This is where Schauer and his colleagues come in.  Schauer is part of a team that uses remotely sensed data scaled to Landsat 30-meter resolution and energy-balance principles to model the rates of evaporation and transpiration on fields in the upper basin. Energy balance involves an understanding that plants regulate their tissue temperatures by balancing energy inputs and outputs. As water and nutrients are transported from the soil to the plant’s leaves, evapotranspiration (ET) plays a major role in regulating leaf temperature through evaporative cooling, which requires conducting an energy balance between incoming sunlight and outgoing evaporation.

Important to Schauer's work is the knowledge that through expended energy, a fully transpiring vegetated area can appear up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than bare areas with little evaporation. When used in combination with local weather datasets for irrigated lands, Schauer's model can provide increasingly accurate and repeatable estimates of actual ET—the amount of combined water that either evaporates from the soil and vegetation surfaces, or is transpired by plants. The amount of ET then is a measure of how much irrigated water is being consumed by crops in this arid basin. Figuring out how much water flows into Upper Klamath Lake from the reduction in irrigation simply requires taking ET during a year when irrigation is reduced and comparing it with a year when there is normal irrigation. Using independent satellite data from space for their ET maps, Schauer and his group started working on the Klamath Basin issue in 2017 with funding from the Bureau of Reclamation. To begin with, they tapped into Landsat’s rich archive to produce ET maps from 2004 and 2006—representing a dry year and a wet year back when much less water regulation was occurring. Then they averaged the two to arrive at a baseline for comparing water usage in each of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, when more significant water management occurred. While 2013 showed significant decreases in water consumption and irrigation along the tributaries upstream from Upper Klamath Lake, other years weren’t so definitive. The USGS Oregon Water Science Center office has attempted other methods for measuring water consumption in the upper basin. For example, it also looked at stream flow in years with reduced irrigation and tried to compare it with years of normal irrigation. For now, Schauer's work has been beneficial on year-to-year comparisons. However, parties involved in the upper basin would like to see those findings get to a monthly, or even weekly, measurement of water use. Perhaps they will get there some day, however, the USGS Oregon Science Center likes the option and the product they are getting out of Innovate staff at USGS EROS.

Northeast of the Sprague River village in the upper Klamath River Basin,
farm fields are irrigated with water from the basin. (Photo by: Terrence Conlon)

Important to Schauer’s work is the knowledge that through expended energy, a fully transpiring vegetated area can appear up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than bare areas with little evaporation. When used in combination with local weather datasets for irrigated lands, Schauer’s model can provide increasingly accurate and repeatable estimates of actual ET—the amount of combined water that either evaporates from the soil and vegetation surfaces, or is transpired by plants.

The amount of ET then is a measure of how much irrigated water is being consumed by crops in this arid basin. Figuring out how much water flows into Upper Klamath Lake from the reduction in irrigation simply requires taking ET during a year when irrigation is reduced and comparing it with a year when there is normal irrigation.

Using independent satellite data from space for their ET maps, Schauer and his group started working on the Klamath Basin issue in 2017 with funding from the Bureau of Reclamation. To begin with, they tapped into Landsat’s rich archive to produce ET maps from 2004 and 2006—representing a dry year and a wet year back when much less water regulation was occurring. Then they averaged the two to arrive at a baseline for comparing water usage in each of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, when more significant water management occurred.

While 2013 showed significant decreases in water consumption and irrigation along the tributaries upstream from Upper Klamath Lake, other years weren’t so definitive.

The USGS Oregon Water Science Center office has attempted other methods for measuring water consumption in the upper basin. For example, it also looked at stream flow in years with reduced irrigation and tried to compare it with years of normal irrigation.

For now, Schauer’s work has been beneficial on year-to-year comparisons. However, parties involved in the upper basin would like to see those findings get to a monthly, or even weekly, measurement of water use. Perhaps they will get there some day, however, the USGS Oregon Science Center likes the option and the product they are getting out of Innovate staff at  USGS EROS.

Landsat Global Archive Ingests 5 Millionth Scene

Satellite view of Bahrain and Qatar

The Landsat Global Archive Consolidation initiative retrieved and ingested its 5 millionth scene since it began in 2010. The data came from the Riyadh Ground Station in Saudi Arabia. This image, acquired by Landsat 5 on April 16, 1989, shows an area over Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

An eight-year effort to repatriate millions of Landsat scenes locked away in ground station outposts around the world reached a milestone in March 2018 when the USGS  Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, SD.  ingested and placed the 5 millionth scene in its archive.

The data came from the Riyadh Ground Station in Saudi Arabia.   Landsat 5 acquired the data on April 16, 1989. It shows an area over Bahrain and Qatar.

Since 2010, the USGS combed the planet through its Landsat Global Archive Consolidation (LGAC) initiative, repatriating millions of scenes that had never made it into the archive at the EROS Center. Officials estimate that roughly two-thirds of Landsat data collected between 1972 and 1999 remained largely untapped at ground stations across the planet.

The earliest Landsat missions featured recording limitations in that they had none of the robust on-satellite storage from which to eventually transmit data to a centralized storage and distribution facility, as Landsat 8 currently does. Fortunately, through the years, the U.S. offered other countries the opportunity to build International Ground Stations and operate them as International Cooperators as a goodwill gesture to encourage friendly use of outer space.

Those ground stations installed suitable antennae to acquire Landsat data, paid a fee to receive and distribute the data, then set up their own archives. Twenty-two ICs operating 35 International Ground Stations agreed to periodically forward metadata to the USGS. But with no systematic process in place to enable the transfer of data acquired by the ICs back to EROS, those metadata transfers were rarely enforced.

Locked away, and in some cases degrading in less than pristine storage conditions, that data went untapped until 2008, when the USGS decided to make Landsat data downloads free. Interest in Landsat data quickly spiked, and users clamored to find out what was in the archive.

When studies revealed that there were potentially 4 to 5 million unique Landsat scenes around the world that could fill in the archival record, the Landsat Science Team formally requested that the USGS consolidate the global archive, and LGAC was born.

Data are still arriving from places like Argentina, the European Space Agency, and South Africa.  There’s additional data from Saudi Arabia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, and a few other places that just needs to be ingested.

To Innovate staff in the Data Management and Information Delivery division and those supporting the Landsat project, five million is a significant milestone.  It represents how far Innovate staff has come in helping to fill the gaps in the Landsat archive.

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