Enterprise GIS Projects
Helping to make the Virginia Tech campus map interactive. University Relations has, for many years, maintained an accurate and well‐designed reference map of the Blacksburg campus in PDF format. With the proliferation of mobile devices and the increasing availability of tools that allow publishing maps on the Web, University Relations collaborated with VTGIS and Facilities Services to develop a flagship interactive map of the Virginia Tech campus to be launched as an integral part of the redesigned vt.edu web presence before the start of the Fall Semester 2013.
Members of Enterprise GIS provided expertise in platform architecture, spatial data integration, and application logic development, while University Relations oversaw the site’s
“look and feel” and Facilities Services provided real‐time access to the most current versions of all the data displayed in the campus map.
The map is intended to be intuitive, with simple controls and a prominently displayed
navigation menu to help new students, parents, and visitors (as well as current faculty, staff
and students) find their way around our ever‐changing campus environment.
Campus populations. The efforts of Virginia Tech’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Virginia Tech Police Department (VTPD), and other emergency responders can
benefit from improvements in their ability to estimate the number and location of concentrations of people on campus at a given time. This increased situational awareness is
beneficial across all phases of emergency management—preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. By integrating data from other university databases into a web‐based multitemporal visualization, Enterprise GIS has developed a tool that displays an estimate of the number of people occupying general‐use classrooms and dining facilities, hour by hour, throughout a typical week. The data are generalized and aggregated in general estimates for each building on campus at a given time.
Since security is an important consideration at all levels of the application architecture, only those personnel working in an official capacity with a need to access this information will be authorized to use this tool. In the coming year, Enterprise GIS aims to explore the possibility of bringing in additional "feeds" of information into the viewer, improving confidence in the estimates via the triangulation of methods.
Gameday GIS Stadium Safety application.
The "Gameday GIS Stadium Safety" application is a web-based situational awareness tool developed by Enterprise GIS for use by OEM and VTPD. The tool creates a time series of incident data that can be analyzed to ascertain patterns and trends, informing future redeployment of law enforcement and emergency personnel. The initial application was developed in 2011, and underwent a major redesign in 2012. The 2012 football season was the first time that analytical data from the Gameday GIS could be visualized by the leadership of the VTPD and OEM, and the data helped inform a shift in the overall policing strategy inside Lane Stadium for home football games. Analysis of this data as applied to subsequent stadium events enabled emergency responders to use personal resources more efficiently and effectively in maintaining security and safety at large stadium events.
Gameday GIS continues to evolve, and its "DNA" has been repurposed to create more generalized framework of reusable software components that have been incorporated in both the public-facing Virginia Tech Interactive Campus Map and the Campus Population application. Future plans include incorporating this situational awareness capability beyond football games to enhance safety at other large events on campus.
Mesonet: Integrating and disseminating weather data
For many years, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has maintained a
network of weather stations at the Agricultural Research and Experiment Stations, research
farms, and other sites across the commonwealth. Enterprise GIS recognized that the output of
these stations is fundamentally spatial information, and developed a systems integration
strategy to automatically feed the daily observations into the central GIS database, making it
available for researchers in multiple academic disciplines. In addition, researchers from other
institutions have come to recognize the unique asset Virginia Tech possesses in having its own
weather station network, and in 2011 Enterprise GIS developed a Web-based data extraction
tool that enables research collaborators of Virginia Tech faculty members at other universities
to access the entire time series of meteorological observations for use in their own models.
MEASURES: Quantifying ecosystem services
With the prominence of the issue of climate change, researchers have devoted considerable
attention to quantifying the “ecosystem services” provided by natural environments. In
particular, researchers in the department of Forest Resources and Environmental
Conservation have developed a tool called MEASURES to estimate the amount of carbon that
a healthy forest can sequester, as well as the nutrients and sediment that it can prevent from
entering the watershed, enabling landowners to accurately assess the hidden costs of
harvesting that resource. Working with the Center for Geospatial Information Technology,
Enterprise GIS integrated the MEASURES tool into a Web application platform called
InForest, developed by the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Timmons Group. This tool
enables forest landowners to delineate a tract of land, run the MEASURES tool from a Web
interface, and receive a report of the ecosystem services that piece of land provides.
Additionally, Enterprise GIS has entered into an agreement to migrate the hosting of the
entire InForest application to Virginia Tech, allowing the MEASURES tool and its Web
interface to evolve together as our researchers’ understanding of this important problem
continues to improve.
The Virginia Tech Police Department is developing a prototype of an interactive, searchable incident map using GIS and other geospatial visualization applications. Integrating geospatial information and visualization provides effective new tools that can enhance the ability of law enforcement to meet strategic, tactical and administrative goals. The ability to query, compare, display and analyze complex spatial information about incidents and physical environments on campus can help enhance university safety and crime prevention strategies. The ease of use for an array of visualization tools and techniques means that law enforcement officers can use the resource immediately, without additional training or instruction.
A potential outcome of this project is a publicly available web enabled online interactive campus map that can be used by the VTPD and other university departments to relate important information to the university community such as; snow emergency routes, road closures and other traffic and parking information, construction, bus stops, bike lanes and more. Eventually, other technologies such as sensors, GPS devices, and other visualized data can add new functionalities for enhancing public safety and crime prevention.
The Information Technologies Security Office is enhancing their cyber security capabilities by incorporating geospatial technologies into their diagnostic and assessment efforts. Geospatial tools and technologies can enhance IT Security Office’s ability to identify trends and vulnerabilities and locations of cyber-events and environments on campus. Using GIS and other geospatial tools to efficiently assimilate, and manage discrete data sources, improves the ability to strategically analyze and communicate cyber conditions that may impact network users. Incorporating a geospatial approach IT security practices can help to transform a complex array of data into coherent visual representations that can effectively inform the university community about cyber events and threats that can adversely affect network performance.
Virginia’s Region 2000, (which includes: includes the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell, the cities of Bedford and Lynchburg, and the towns of Altavista, Amherst, Appomattox, Brookneal and Pamplin) and Virginia Tech’s eCorridors group are developing a prototype of a vertical asset inventory tool using GIS and other geospatial technologies. Vertical assets in this context are structures within a locality (tall buildings, silos, smokestacks, water tanks, existing communication towers, etc) that wireless Internet service providers can use to deliver for the delivery of services, A geographic based inventory system will allow localities to quickly enter, search, sort, display, and retrieve data that can facilitate private sector and local investment in rural broadband deployment. This initiative is funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Productivity Investment Fund.
Virginia Tech Facilities Information Systems (FIS) is using the Enterprise GIS as their hosting provider for all campus infrastructure data. Facilities was the first organization outside of IT to begin using the Enterprise GIS system, back when it was still a prototype. When the FIS department was created, the strategic decision was made to migrate the campus infrastructure data from CAD to GIS. The Virginia Tech "campus basemap"
is made up of dozens of layers, each maintained by different departments within Facilities. Each department needs to be able to update and maintain the layers in their areas of responsibility, while also ensuring that the other administrative departments have access to the most current data. Enterprise GIS provided FIS with an environment to securely aggregate data from all the departments it serves, while ensuring that access is restricted to "need-to-know" personnel.Facilities currently has over 90 users in the Enterprise GIS ArcSDE system, representing 14 different departments. Users are grouped by database roles into departmental units, and privileges are granted in a manner that matches Facilities' business processes. Multi-user editing is supported through versioning in ArcSDE, and FIS reviews all edits before they are posted to the DEFAULT version. By using the Enterprise GIS, Facilities improves its ability to ensure that the university's internal operations are guided by the most current infrastructure data.
Enterprise GIS is assisting Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources in the development of web-based mapping and spatial analysis tools for modeling and quantifying Ecosystem
Services. In particular, the department of Forestry is interested in quantifying the carbon sequestered in the nation's forest biomass. A number of tools, many of them computationally intensive, have been developed to model Ecosystem Services, and Enterprise GIS assists CNR by helping to integrate tools running on a variety of computing platforms into industry-standard web GIS interfaces. By working with Enterprise GIS, CNR is able to focus on the development of the models and tools specific to their research, while hosting is centralized on the Enterprise GIS server infrastructure.
The Enterprise GIS team worked on a number of projects for Aneesh Chopra, the former Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, including a web-based map integrating an open-source Internet speed test to enable Virginia's K-12 public schools to test their Internet connections and identify areas of need, and a similar map for the Commonwealth's libraries.
Multiple projects are underway from the Virginia Cooperative Extension. In the Northwest District, extension agents are taking advantage of the Enterprise GIS system to build web-based maps illustrating the effects of different forestry techniques employed in demonstration plots at the Shenandoah Agricultural Research and Extension Center. These maps will offer a new, interactive format in which Extension can further
the dissemination of best practices. At the Alson H. Smith, Jr. AREC,
researchers are interested in using the Enterprise GIS system as the backend for a web-based disease forecasting system for grapes.
The Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources Information Technology (AHNR-IT) organization within Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is working with Enterprise GIS to transition the data management of the VAES Weather Mesonet to a centralized server environment, and to integrate these data with other spatial data. When the transition is complete, weather data from these stations will be an additional resource available to Virginia Tech researchers through the Enterprise GIS. In addition, Enterprise GIS is working with AHNR-IT and the Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences department to assess the feasibility of providing a centrally accessible spatial analysis and geoprocessing server, which would provide computationally intensive GIS and remote sensing analysis not currently economical for individual departments to support individually.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Virginia Tech's largest research center, relies on the Enterprise GIS team to assist in the design of spatial database systems to store and visualize millions of GPS locations collected by instrumented vehicles. Enterprise GIS works with VTTI to develop spatial analysis methodologies relevant to their research, which presents a special case study in scalability, as many of the Institute's datasets are exceptionally large.
Enterprise GIS is working with staff from University Relations to integrate the centrally stored and regularly updated campus basemap from Facilities with the next generation of the Virginia Tech Campus map.
This project is still in a prototype phase, but it is anticipated that through this collaboration, future iterations of the campus map will be more dynamic and kept current through realtime links to current campus infrastructure data.
Enterprise GIS is supporting a project led by Sunil
Sinha in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to map the nation's water infrastructure and make it accessible through the creation of a Water Infrastructure Information System. The enterprise GIS team created a custom database solution for this project by linking a locally hosted instance of ArcSDE to a remote database at the San Diego Supercomputing Center. In addition, Enterprise GIS is hosting and assisting in the development of web applications to help create intuitive interfaces to massive amounts of water infrastructure data and also analysis tools for assessing the condition of assets.
The Virginia Tech department of Entomology is working with Enterprise GIS to spatially enable a number of databases they maintain for tracking the spread of the Gypsy moth, as well as the development of prototype web mapping applications for the tracking of the Hemlock Woody Adelgid.