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Next Generation (NextGen) Geospatial Information System (GIS)

July 12, 2013 - 12:17pm


The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (LM) manages environmental records from Cold War legacy sites spanning nearly 40 years. These records are a key LM asset and must be managed and maintained efficiently and effectively. There are over 16 different applications that support the databases containing environmental and geospatial information. The current applications, respective systems, and processes require upgrades to effectively operate in the future.

A multi-disciplined LM team collaborated to develop functional requirements and implement NextGen GIS; this system will replace the Geospatial Environmental Mapping System (GEMS) and its associated databases. The NextGen GIS will have better map functionality, expanded layers, support, upgrades, speed, ease of use, expandability, Internet-based use for external and internal users, and cross-agency commonality for map sharing, development, and collaboration. The updated and upgraded systems and recommended strategies will ensure that LM’s environmental data is properly preserved and protected while allowing LM to operate in an open and transparent manner with internal users; state and federal regulators; local, regional, and national stakeholders; and the public.

When LM was established in December 2003, GEMS was already in use and was transferred to LM to maintain. In 2006, LM upgraded GEMS with a tutorial, graphical outputs that include time-series plots and spot plots, the ability to select multiple wells, and attachment of files such as well logs and photos.

The NextGen GIS will be more user-friendly and more versatile for analysis of environmental data. The system will integrate land use (parcel ownership, mineral rights, covenants, etc.), institutional controls (land restrictions, access agreements, etc.), and real and personal property with the environmental data so that levels can be accessed within one program. LM is developing NextGen GIS in a phased approach and anticipates the first production release in January 2014.

Internal and external users will be able to use the new system. Primary internal customers are federal site managers, asset management team members, and supporting technical staff. Users will have access to both the internal and external GIS service and will use the new service to support decisions that ensure protection of the public and the environment and efficient management of LM assets. The new service will also be used to engage the public by sharing complex environmental data information in a visual and timely manner. The GIS service will support cross-cutting disciplines in the organization such as real property, institutional controls, and land reuse opportunities.

External customers for NextGen GIS include local, regional, and national stakeholders; regulators; and other government agencies. Public stakeholder groups will be able to view and analyze historic and current site environmental data and information. It is important to continue to nurture relationships and build trust by offering a GIS service that is intuitive and easy to understand. 

Regulators will use the service to verify that the remedies at LM sites are being properly maintained (e.g., disposal cell integrity) and are in compliance with current groundwater strategies. The service will be used as a communication tool to display any changes at an LM site such as institutional and engineering controls. Also, adjacent land owners can use it to see LM boundaries, outgrants, and access easements.

Finally, other government organizations can use the system as a common platform for sharing their own maps and drawing upon maps developed by LM. This will assist in efficient and effective collaboration of longterm surveillance and monitoring information. The National Geospatial Platform is already being adopted and supported by other government organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Geological Survey.