April 23, 2012 | Posted by smcclung
Leave a Comment
The 2012 AWRA Spring Specialty Conference on GIS & Water Resources VII was held March 26 to 28, 2012, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
As with previous conferences in this series, the call for abstracts brought presentations and posters showcasing the most exciting work being done in the field of geospatial technology and water resources. Topics covered a truly immense body of work as more applications of GIS and remote sensing to water resources continue to be developed. Sessions ranged from flood risk and emergency management to climate change; from hydro-fracturing impacts to new concepts for sharing analyses. Geospatial applications and web services spanning PCs, tablets, and smartphones were presented by the engineers and scientists applying them in new ways, as well as by the developers and researchers who created them. The Program Coordinator, Sandra Fox of Saint Johns River Water Management District, said “We couldn’t have been happier with the quality, breadth and relevance of the abstracts. Innovative approaches spanned the whole range of water resources challenges.”
From the opening plenary to the last session on Wednesday it was clear that geospatial technologies have reached a tipping point. The Conference Chair, Jack Hampson of Atkins, described it as: “Thanks to smartphones and tablets, geospatial technologies are now so widely used that we have a flood of new resources ranging from map-driven communication with the public to collaboration on complex water-management challenges. For instance, in order to balance flood risk, water-supply needs, water quality and quality of life, you have to understand the unique character of each watershed. There is no cookie cutter. Truly understanding any watershed requires data from a wide range of sources, and the one thing all these data share is location, or a geospatial component. As geospatial technologies are becoming more widely used, they are becoming much more powerful and cost-effective and the data we require is growing more reliable and accessible. This conference is a chance to explore how these new information technologies help us define, identify and address the water-related challenges we face now and in the future.”
Setting a tone of excitement for the whole conference, the keynote speaker was Colonel Robert Ruch, commander of the Omaha District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Colonel Ruch highlighted the role that geospatial technologies played during Operation Mighty MO — the flood fight of the Missouri river during 2011. The 2011 flooding along the Missouri exceeded all previous flooding, both on record or predicted, and significant effort was expended trying to protect life and property. Colonel Ruch explained that new applications of GIS technologies were crucial in providing accurate risk communication to the public, broader and more efficient methods of sharing information, and improved allocation of engineering resources. He described a new USACE smartphone app that allows instantaneous capture and transmission of location-tagged inspection photos, enabling rapid prioritized responses, with site visits, repair crews, and follow-on inspections. He also indicated that accurate LiDAR (topographic) data, obtained from the Iowa Department of Transportation, was crucial in helping to save the city of Hamburg, Iowa during the flood. The LiDAR data allowed hydraulic engineers to compute with confidence the arrival time of flood waters from a nearby levee breach so that an emergency levee could be constructed. Colonel Ruch described how the data and the resulting analyses were validated with heart-pounding swiftness – within hours of completing the emergency levee, the floodwater arrived and the new levee held. It was correctly sized and the town was saved from a major disaster. In a plenary panel that followed the keynote, information technology leaders from NOAA, USGS, EPA, and the USACE joined the director of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science to discuss challenges, opportunities, and new initiatives to share and integrate their data, analytic tools, and expertise using new technologies such as cloud-based data catalogues and web services.
Another first at this year’s conference was an Executive Track composed of two sessions: The Executive Session on Water Resources Information Technologies – Directions, Drivers and Opportunities organized by Katherine Lins, Chief, Office of Water Information, WRD, USGS and the Executive Session on World Water Online organized by Dr. David Maidment, University of Texas at Austin and Steve Kopp of ESRI. Panelists for the first session included Daniel Fay of Microsoft Research Connections, Sean Maday of Google Geospatial, Mark Demulder, USGS, Eric Loubier of NRCan. Of additional note was a new session focused on using geospatial decision support tools in the Atchafalaya Basin. Organized by Scott Wilson, Chief, Spatial Analysis Branch, USGS, National Wetlands Research Center, this session brought sharp focus to this important water resource.
On Wednesday, the AWRA Award for Exemplary Contributions to Water Resources Data and Information Systems, now called the David R. Maidment Award, went to Jeffrey D. Simley, USGS. Under Jeff’s stewardship the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) has emerged as a vital digital foundation for water resources planning and analyses in support of the nation’s water resources. NHD and NHDPlus form a common framework under which flood risk determination, water quality improvement and water supply planning can be integrated. Over the last ten years Jeff has been instrumental in building a community and stewardship framework under which the ongoing growth of the NHD has flourished, achieving critical mass to ensure its constant update and improvement and its ongoing vitality as a trusted source.
Thanks to the rapid expansion of its subject area, this biennial conference, next scheduled for 2014, will be renamed: Geospatial Technologies and Water Resources VIII. AWRA is pleased to announce that the Conference Chair for 2014 is Robert M. Wallace, Ph.D., P.E.; Chief, Computational Science and Engineering Division, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, US Army Corps of Engineers. Rob lead the development of the cutting edge geospatial and information solutions that supported the USACE emergency response described by Colonel Ruch in his keynote address, and Rob was a visionary member of the 2012 conference organizing team. Upon being selected for this honor, Rob said: “I better check with my wife first.”
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.