Sound GIS
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Sound GIS Projects

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Marine Vegetation Atlas

Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Project: The marine scientists at Washington DNR wanted to develop a web-accessible atlas of marine vegetation in Washington State for use by coastal resource managers and scientists.

Approach: Sound GIS designed a relational geodatabase to store a broad range of source information in a common framework, from scientific journal articles and permit applications, to long-term monitoring data. Sound GIS conducted a user needs assessment, developed QA/QC procedures, Python scripts, and SQL queries to validate the data entered by DNR staff. Sound GIS and subcontractor, ChopShop Geospatial, developed a web mapping application that allows users to query and display a map of presence or absence of marine vegetation, as well as filtering the source information on a number of criteria, including vegetation type, dates of surveys, survey methods, and organization.

Outcome: The Marine Vegetation Atlas has facilitated access to numerous obscure information sources in an easy-to-use web interface. Access to the information on maps in the Atlas will improve planning and decision-making by resource managers who must protect sensitive marine vegetation habitats, such as kelp beds and seagrass meadows.

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Seafloor Habitat and Species Modeling

The Nature Conservancy

Project: The Nature Conservancy needed a collaborator to develop a comprehensive spatial dataset delineating seafloor habitat in Puget Sound, Washington, including bathymetry, substrate, and geoform.

Approach: Sound GIS reviewed existing data sets for quality, spatial coverage, classification consistency, and resolution. Based on these criteria, the best data sets were synthesized into a consistent, soundwide data set. Sound GIS also acquired rockfish field survey data sets and provided input data sets and mapping outputs in support of spatial modeling.

Outcome: These updated, comprehensive bathymetry, substrate, and geoform data sets were used to develop models of species and habitat associations for rockfish using Bayesian modeling techniques.

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Image source: Washington Department of Ecology

Feeder Bluff Mapping

Washington Department of Ecology via Coastal Geologic Services

Project: Washington Department of Ecology needed a current and comprehensive map of feeder bluffs in Puget Sound, Washington for use in shoreline planning and protection.

Approach: Sound GIS collaborated with Coastal Geologic Services to synthesize existing GIS data sets and new field mapping into a consistent, comprehensive map of feeder bluffs in Puget Sound. As the QA/QC lead, Sound GIS designed procedures and decision rules for evaluating the quality of the existing data sets. Sound GIS also developed methods for validating and improving the accuracy and consistency of new field data collection.

Outcome: Feeder bluffs are an essential part of the nearshore environment that provide an on-going supply of material to build and sustain beaches and coastal wetlands. This comprehensive map of feeder bluffs provides a new, consistent, and detailed data set for local and regional shoreline planners concerned with protecting and restoring critical shoreline processes and functions.

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Image source: Washington DNR

Eelgrass Monitoring Analysis Tools

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Project: Washington DNR wanted to streamline their eelgrass monitoring analyses by automating repeated processes, conversions, and calculations.

Approach: Sound GIS developed several ArcGIS geoprocessing tools for Washington DNR's Submerged Vegetation Monitoring Project (SVMP). One tool produces GIS data from text files of eelgrass monitoring transect data and includes associated attributes. Additional tools use the transect data to calculate and output statistical summaries of eelgrass area and depth ranges by transect, by site, and by year. The tools are written in Python and are provided through a custom ArcGIS toolbox.

Outcome: The tools Sound GIS created save DNR many hours of staff time by eliminating the need for tedious manual conversions, copying and pasting, and spreadsheet calculations, as well as increasing the accuracy and repeatability of results.

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Spill Response Web Mapping Application

NOAA, NOS, ORR, Assessment and Restoration Division via Genwest Systems

Project: Provide support for NOAA's development of their open-source web mapping application ERMA, used for oil spill response and restoration. NOAA also sought to expand ERMA to the Arctic.

Approach: Allison Bailey, principal of Sound GIS, served as technical liaison between ERMA users and developers, and as co-lead for the development of a new Arctic ERMA regional site. As technical liaison, Allison guided user technical support, prioritized new feature development and bug fixes, represented the developer team at internal and external meetings, optimized development workflow, and improved user workflow within the ERMA application. As co-lead for the development of the Arctic ERMA site, Allison facilitated stakeholder workshops, cultivated relationships with data providers and partners, demonstrated ERMA to users and partners, prioritized data collection and loading in ERMA, and oversaw tasks for the Arctic ERMA team.

Outcome: Since Sound GIS' involvement, NOAA has made significant updates to key features and improved usability in ERMA. Arctic ERMA was launched and has been successfully used in oil spill response drills.

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Eelgrass Needs Assessment and Geodatabase Development

Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Project: Washington DNR needed a way to effectively manage and distribute their eelgrass monitoring data.

Approach: Sound GIS conducted a needs assessment for potential users of Washington DNR's eelgrass monitoring data sets. Based on this information, Sound GIS designed and built a geodatabase suitable for public distribution, converted and synthesized DNR's existing eelgrass data, performed QA/QC, and contributed documentation.

Outcome: The finished geodatabase saves time for scientific staff, making it easier and quicker to respond to requests for eelgrass data. It also streamlined DNR's internal data management and analysis needs.

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Image source: NOAA, National Marine Sanctuaries

Kelp Data Consolidation

Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Project: Washington DNR needed support managing a time-series of imagery delineating kelp beds off the Washington coast.

Approach: Sound GIS developed raster-to-vector data conversion scripts, performed QC, documented methods, and provided technical oversight and support.

Outcome: Now that Sound GIS has converted data to a common, consistent GIS format, it is usable for efficient management and scientific analysis of Washington State's kelp beds and how they are changing over time.

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Geodatabase for Remedial Investigation

Washington Department of Ecology via Hart Crowser

Project: Hart Crowser needed GIS expertise to organize and manage historic geospatial data to map contaminants in the Monte Cristo Mine Area near Granite Falls, Washington.

Approach: Sound GIS assisted and mentored Hart Crowser staff in designing and developing a comprehensive and flexible geospatial database for existing baseline and contaminant data. Sound GIS also provided mentoring and support in data conversion, cartography, documentation, and metadata development.

Outcome: The geodatabase was used to identify locations where hazardous metals in the water and soil exceed human health and ecological screening criteria. The geodatabase was also used to prepare for a remedial investigation and feasibility study at the mine site.

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Fishery Hotspot Mapping

Environmental Defense Fund

Project: The Environmental Defense Fund needed a fisherman-friendly way to collect information about their key fishing locations.

Approach: Sound GIS designed a geospatial database and a data collection approach for interviewing groups of fishermen to map known hotspots for fish species with low catch quotas. Sound GIS conducted interviews, converted hard-copy maps and coordinate information into GIS format, and produced maps with consolidated information for review and use by fishermen.

Outcome: The database supported the creation and operation of fishing co-operatives to share catch quota and reduce individual fisherman's risk of exceeding new, individual quotas.

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Cultural Resource Assessments

Paragon Research Associates

Project: Paragon Research Associates needed GIS support for a wide range of cultural resource assessments.

Approach: Sound GIS provided on-call GIS support, including generating geographic coordinates for field surveys, creating Area of Potential Effects (APE) boundaries, and producing project maps.

Outcome: With Sound GIS's maps, Paragon Research Associates and the their clients could easily visualize the locations of cultural resources at a site, as well as the spatial relationships between them.

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Gap Analysis of Marine Protected Areas

The Nature Conservancy

Project: The Nature Conservancy needed help identifying gaps in marine ecosystem protection.

Approach: In conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, Sound GIS conducted spatial analyses of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Washington State. These analyses included data acquisition from a wide range of agencies and organizations, evaluation and categorization of regulations into type(s) of protection, methodology development, synthesis of disparate data sets into a single geospatial database, production of summary statistics and maps, and documentation.

Outcome: The Nature Conservancy presented the gap analysis to state agencies and the MPA workgroup in order to inform marine conservation planning in Washington State, including possible design of an MPA network and in support of the marine spatial planning process.

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Image source: Washington Department of Ecology

Change Analysis of Puget Sound's Nearshore Ecosystem

United States Corps of Engineers via Anchor Environmental (now Anchor QEA)

Project: Anchor Environmental sought GIS expertise to enhance a large, multi-disciplinary team assessing change to the shoreline and estuarine conditions in Puget Sound, Washington.

Approach: Sound GIS involvement included data discovery and compilation of existing data sets for Puget Sound, development of a set of nested geographic units used to summarize changes, classification of historic shoreforms, QA/QC of spatial data sets, and development of queries for data analysis.

Outcome: The products Sound GIS provided has informed a system-wide assessment of nearshore ecosystem restoration priorities in Puget Sound for the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project General Investigation study and the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership.

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User Needs Assessment for a Marine Protected Area Information Management System

California Ocean Science Trust/MPA Monitoring Enterprise via Exa Data and Mapping Services

Project: The MPA Monitoring Enterprise wanted a needs assessment for future users of an online information management system that would provide access to monitoring information for the statewide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in California.

Approach: Working with the Exa team, Sound GIS designed an online user survey, developed an interview approach, conducted user interviews, performed data analysis, and documented results for the user needs assessment.

Outcome: Using the needs assessment results, the MPA Monitoring Enterprise implemented an on-line system, called Ocean Spaces, to facilitate the flow of scientific monitoring information to citizens, stakeholders, and decision-makers.

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Integrated Decision Support System for Tidal Energy Projects

Bonneville Power Administration via Pacific International Engineering

Project: Sound GIS provided support for the development of an Integrated Decision Support System (IDSS) to aid evaluation and permitting of tidal energy projects in Washington State.

Approach: The system is spatially explicit and incorporates regional GIS data as well as detailed, site-specific oceanographic models. This phase of the multi-year project consisted of identifying user needs for this system and developing a conceptual and preliminary design. Stakeholders range from Public Utility Districts, who are proposing projects, to federal and state agencies, who are required to evaluate and issue permits for these projects.

Outcome: It is expected that the system will assist in synthesizing data and models needed for comparison of potential tidal energy generation sites.

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Woodard Bay Restoration Project

Washington Department of Natural Resources via Hart Crowser

Project: A data management and GIS framework was needed to support an assessment of historical and existing site conditions at the Woodard Bay Aquatic Restoration project area.

Approach: Sound GIS worked with Hart Crowser to develop a geodatabase to manage project information with thematic-based data sets containing diverse information types. Work included compiling public map, survey, and other geographic data, along with new information from aquatic surveys and sediment quality chemical testing.

Outcome: The geodatabase Sound GIS developed provided a crucial platform for organizing and evaluating data for restoration planning, feasibility study, design, and construction phases of the restoration project.

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GIS Tools for Ranking Puget Sound Streams

Washington Department of Ecology via ESA Adolfson

Project: Washington Department of Ecology wanted to develop a practical GIS approach and tools to evaluate and implement Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) "Draft Guidance for Ranking Puget Sound Streams for Low Flow Enhancement."

Approach: Sound GIS helped develop a ranking methodology that incorporates information about fish occurrence or potential, habitat value, hydrology, and flow/passage. For this pilot project, the approach and tools focused on data and methods that are straightforward and easily transferable to watershed groups throughout Puget Sound. Sound GIS also developed ArcGIS geoprocessing models for each component of the ranking methodology.

Outcome: The tools were used to complete a ranking of tributaries in a portion of Snohomish County. The results from the GIS models with consistent with a manually completed ranking and provided increased efficiency for conducting most of the steps of the ranking protocol.

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Marine Ecoregional Assessment

The Nature Conservancy

Project: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) needed support for to extend their Pacific Northwest Coast (PNWC) ecoregional assessment into the offshore waters.

Approach: Sound GIS investigated the utility of National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) groundfish trawl survey, and commercial trawling data, as input into the TNC's conservation planning and prioritization process. Sound GIS evaluated appropriate spatial scales and multiple metrics for input into MARXAN, one of TNC's conservation modeling tools.

Outcome: The groundfish distribution and commercial fishing data were successfully incorporated into TNC's modeling efforts and used to expand the Pacific Northwest Coast marine ecoregional assessment further offshore. This assessment is used to support marine conservation planning.

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Snohomish County Eelgrass Inventory

Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee

Project: Snohomish County requested a synthesis of existing GIS data delineating eelgrass beds and new mapping of subtidal eelgrass beds using underwater videography and side-scan sonar.

Approach: Allison Bailey, principal of Sound GIS, served as project manager and GIS analyst for a county-wide eelgrass inventory. Subcontractors performed field surveys and Sound GIS synthesized the data into a coherent data set.

Outcome: The new comprehensive data set is used by Snohomish County for planning, resource management, and marine habitat protection.

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Essential Fish Habitat Environmental Impact Statement

NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service

Project: NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service put together a scientific and modeling team to conduct an assessment of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for West Coast Groundfish and develop an Environmental Impact Statement.

Approach: With her skill in a geographic analysis and programming, combined with her experience in marine science, Allison Bailey, Sound GIS principal, was the GIS lead for both the EFH assessment and the Environmental Impact Statement development. Sound GIS created, synthesized, and analyzed datasets to develop a comprehensive GIS for groundfish, including such diverse datasets as geologic habitat, species abundance, bathymetry, fishing effort, and non-fishing impacts. As GIS lead, Allison worked closely with the client, presented project results to technical reviewers and stakeholders, and contributed to technical and policy documents.

Outcome: This project received a 'Special Achievement in GIS' Award from ESRI in 2004. The project also successfully informed policy decisions to delineate Conservation Areas and protect essential fish habitat (EFH) off the West Coast.

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Oil Spill Response Atlas

Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC)

Project: CTC was developing a web-based application for marine oil spill responders in Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Washington. To support this application, the 20-year-old paper maps depicting sensitive biological and human resources needed to be updated with current data in GIS format.

Approach: Allison Bailey, principal of Sound GIS, used her extensive experience with marine GIS data to quickly filter through existing data sets and identify strengths and limitations of these data. Sound GIS automated data processing with Python scripts, using ESRI's geoprocessing commands, and SQL commands. Sound GIS was also responsible for mentoring CTC's GIS staff working on the project. As a supplemental product, Sound GIS developed a logical and physical geodatabase data model for a Geographic Response Plan.

Outcome: The final geodatabase is publicly available as a part of NOAA's Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) Atlas series and and is being used for oil spill planning, drills, and response.

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Essential Fish Habitat Bayesian Network Model

Marine Resource Assessment Group (MRAG)

Project: MRAG and University of Reading developed a Bayesian Network (BN) model to delineate West Coast groundfish habitat for 82 species. To support this model, they needed to develop automated GIS routines.

Approach: Sound GIS developed automated routines to consolidate and format spatial data input for the model. In addition, Sound GIS automated the process for incorporating model output data into GIS and generating maps for over 160 groundfish species and lifestage combinations

Outcome: Interaction between the GIS data and the model was smooth and seamless and allowed for multiple re-runs of the model and updates to the map to occur during interactive scientific review meetings. Sound GIS and others in the EFH team presented these models, data sources, and model output for numerous reviews by scientific, statistical, and other advisory committees of the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

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