David Magney Environmental Consulting

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS is a type of software that is used to create databases for items with a spatial location.   That is, GIS allows the user to create a database of items that have x, y, and z coordinates (they occur somewhere on or in or above, this earth).   A house has spatial coordinates.   A tree has spatial coordinates, and so on.   GIS software allows the user to establish the relationships between objects for further analysis or mapping.   The software is powerful in that each item or object can have as many attributes associated with it as desired, and those attributes can be queried in all sorts of ways to identify relationships with other objects in the database.

GIS is used in many many ways, including making maps (the National Geographic Society uses GIS software to make its maps now), managing maintenance for facilities, utilities, reports or other documents associated with an object, building, plant community, etc.   The sky is the limit; anything with geographic coordinates, real or invented, can be managed in a GIS database for efficient retrieval and management.   Electronic copies of reports or plans can be linked and associated with an object contained within a GIS database, which can save lots of time and money by reducing future labor costs in trying to find the same items again in the future.   A GIS database does not have to be static, but can be updated whenever needed to meet project objectives.   The applications of GIS are endless.

DMEC uses GIS software for almost every project and has experience and expertise in using GIS to develop simple to complex project geodatabases.   DMEC uses ESRI, Inc. ArcView GIS software, including ArcView 3.3, ArcMap 8.2, and ArcMap 9.1.   DMEC uses GIS to build project baseline databases then use those databases to find the answers to many questions about the project, depending on which attributes have been included in the project database.   GIS is also used to create maps and graphics to illustrate specific attributes or results of a project, and is the primary tool for map making today.   DMEC is a leader in the application of GIS in some areas, such as the oak tree database DMEC built in support of the Lyons Canyon Ranch development; go to the link on DMEC's Reports webpage for the project, and DMEC's Presentations page for our unique solutions to mapping tree canopies.   See any of our reports to see the graphics and maps we produce using GIS.

DMEC routinely uses handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units to capture on-the-ground location data in support of many projects, including: survey routes, wetland delineation points and boundaries, tree locations, utility features (power poles, manhole covers, intersections, etc.), rare species occurrences, vegetation classification and mapping, sampling plot locations, observation points, or anything else of interest.   Using GPS provides a means to portray field observations in GIS, eliminating or minimizing errors with delineating those features from memory or less-than-perfect topgraphic maps.

Using GIS can save a client lots of money compared to older ways of mapping and managing spatial data.   For example, DMEC's development and use of GIS for the oak trees on the Lyons Canyon Ranch development project saved the client thousands of dollars when the project changed significantly. Instead of having to remake all the maps from scratch, DMEC simply created new project boundaries and queried the database for specific information, and the time required to make the changes was substantially less than if GIS had not been used originally.

DMEC has the expertise and experience to gather disparate types of data and use them to create a detailed, project-specific geographic database to analyze and solve specific project problems and to create maps and graphics to illustrate aspects of the project.

This page last updated 26 January 2007
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