Tag Archive for: EIM

In our last GIS blog, we covered some tips for choosing an integrated GIS/environmental data management system.  Now let’s look at some more advanced features that may be appealing to a wide range of data managers and facility owners.

1) Look for ways to integrate GIS base maps from other sources—so you can easily add piping diagrams, facility building layouts, or watersheds and drainage.

A map is much more meaningful with your facility information.  Google maps are great, but they won’t show your current building layout and your pipe and sewer diagrams.  So look for the capability to display maps created by other internal departments, like facilities or operations, so you can gain more insights from your data and have information readily available to share with other parts of the company who may disturb the area with digging or construction activity.

GIS+ - Intellus - historical buildings and watersheds

In this example from the Intellus website, environmental data can be visualized in relation to historical buildings and watersheds, both elements created by internal mapping departments. Internal base maps can also replace default maps from Esri or Google.


2) Load in other data from the Esri cloud to leverage a wide range of available data for your facility and use it with your GIS+ layers.

With the right GIS solution, it’s easy to bring in data from any public source, including government agencies, such as EPA. Combining your map with the world of online data can bring fresh insights to your environmental compliance challenges.

GIS+ - Intellus - audubon layers

In this example, GIS is used to merge Audubon bird points with Los Alamos National Laboratory (using the Intellus website).


3) Add reference information, such as photos and reports, to locations, and access them from the map.

Using a freeform polygon search (another must-have in a GIS tool), users can highlight an area and—with a single click—see all the data, field photos, and reports associated with that area. This is especially useful for active facilities where activities are planned in areas with legacy contamination (“know before you dig!”).  This type of functionality makes it simple for less savvy map users to easily get the information they need.

GIS+ - Intellus - freeform polygon tool

In this example, a polygon tool was used to highlight an area, and all data, documents, reports associated with ALL locations within the selected area are available from the map. These functions let facility staff review key environmental information before conducting activities at a facility location.


4) Better understand complex and dense maps with clustered locations.

Some facilities or sites have very dense sampling locations that can be a challenge to view on maps due to overlapping data points. Using the concept of clustering, one can more easily view the dense data, with results color-coded to help focus the review.  Clicking on the cluster reveals the details underneath for more close review.

In this example, tritium in monitoring wells at the Los Alamos site in New Mexico is being reviewed on the map. Without clustering, the map is impossible to read or use effectively. With clustering, the orange circles (“clusters”) indicate higher concentrations of the contaminant, and clicking on the cluster reveals the individual data points it contains.

GIS+ - Intellus - pre clustering

Before clustering is applied, we have a very difficult-to-read map.

GIS+ - Intellus - post clustering

After clustering is applied, the map is much more useful—colors focus the user on the higher concentration areas.


5) Watch trends or changes over time with time layers.

Imagine being able to watch changes in data over time with a simple slider control. An integrated GIS can provide that clarity over all the data in your database, so you can watch the progress of a cleanup, track chemicals in your water distribution system, or watch a groundwater plume move over time.

GIS+ time slider


6) Search for sampling results near a given address or within a given distance from selected map features.

For sites with concerned neighbors, it’s key to know what chemicals or other environmental conditions may be affecting them. With GIS tools, it’s easy to put in an address and see what is within a radius, or to look within a distance from a specific location.  In this example, you can see that there are no sampling locations within a 2000-ft radius from the center point.  You can also type in an address and see what is nearby.

GIS+ radius query

Looking at a 2000-ft radius from a location to see what is nearby.


7) Turn data into insights with data callouts.

The more information you can provide to users in a format that highlights results in a meaningful way, the more you can help streamline review and analysis for any data review effort. GIS tools that support data callouts (with logic to highlight actionable results) can quickly convert a mass of data into a clear picture of the issues at a facility or site.

In the map below, data summaries are presented on a facility map to show areas with results above an action limit and associated with other detected parameters. Reviewers can easily see the exceedances (in red) and pinpoint where the issues lie. Although these maps may look complicated to produce, they can be integrated with standard reporting tools that generate maps at the click of a button.

GIS+ data callouts

Intrigued by the possibilities?

When you’re evaluating an integrated GIS solution, make sure to dig deeper than the obvious necessary features to learn about all the advanced functionality that is available or on the product roadmap.  The best solutions will already have some truly powerful capabilities available, with an even longer list of upcoming features.

Your environmental information management will evolve to the next level when you have the flexibility of visualizing your data in so many ways.  Happy mapping!

Screenshot of Locus GIS location clustering functionalitySee your data in new ways with Locus GIS for environmental management.
Locus offers integrated GIS/environmental data management solutions for organizations in many industries.
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At the annual WM Symposia, representatives from many different DOE sites and contractors gather once a year and discuss cross-cutting technologies and approaches for managing the legacy waste from the DOE complex.  This year, Locus’ customer Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was the featured laboratory.  During their presentation, they discussed Locus GIS+, which powers Intellus, their public-facing environmental monitoring database website.

If you haven’t been to LANL’s Intellus website recently, you are in for a surprise!  It was recently updated to better support casual users, and it features some of the best new tools Locus has to offer.  Locus reimagined the basic query engine and created a new “Quick search” to streamline data retrieval for casual users.  The guided “Quick search” simplifies data queries by stepping you through the filter selections for data sources, locations, dates, and parameters, providing context support at each step along the way.

Intellus - quick searchWhile a knowledgeable environmental scientist may be able to easily navigate a highly technical system, that same operation is bound to be far more difficult for a layperson interested in what chemicals are in their water.  Constructing the right query is not as simple as looking for a chemical in water—it really matters what type of water you want to look within.  On the Intellus website (showing the environmental data from the LANL site), there are 16 different types of water (not including “water levels”).  Using the latest web technologies and our domain expertise, Locus created a much easier way to get to the data of interest.

Just querying data is not necessarily the most intuitive activity to gain insights.  Locus integrated our new GIS+ visualization engine to allow users to instantly see all the data they just queried in detailed, context-rich maps.

Intellus GIS+ Map

Intellus GIS+ map showing “Quick search” query results for chromium levels in the LANL area

Instead of a dense data grid, GIS+ gives users an instant visual representation of the issue, enabling them to quickly spot the source of the chemicals and review the data in the context of the environmental locations and site activities.  Most importantly for Intellus users, this type of detailed map requires no GIS expertise and is automatically created based on your query.  This directly supports Intellus’ mission to provide transparency into LANL’s environmental monitoring and sampling activities.

GIS+ also allows users (albeit with a bit more experience in GIS mapping) to integrate maps from a wide range of online sources to provide even more insight to the available data.  In the example below, we overlaid the publicly-available US Fish and Wildlife critical habitat maps with data from the LANL site to show the relationship of the site to critical habitats.  This type of sophisticated analysis is the future of online GIS.  Locus takes full advantage of these opportunities to visualize and integrate data from varying sources with our GIS+ tools, made simple for users and integrated with ArcGIS Online by Esri.

Intellus GIS+ Map

Intellus GIS+ map showing imported layers of US Fish and Wildlife critical habitats in relation to LANL environmental sampling data

WM 2018 - Sean and Nita

Overall, Locus is very proud of our cross-cutting environmental information management tools.  We were one of many WM18 attendees enjoying LANL’s presentation and getting even more ideas from the audience on the next steps for better environmental visualization.

[sc_button link=”https://www.locustec.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WM-18-PPT.pdf” text=”View a copy of the presentation” link_target=”_blank” color=”ffffff” background_color=”52a6ea”]

1. “Show locations on map” from a grid

In many locations in EIM, you can make a map directly from your query results. Click on the “folded map” icon on a results grid anywhere in EIM to open the GIS application, where you can then view and save your results as a map query layer.

So if you’re looking at TCE in specific locations, you can quickly map them and see what other parameters are present.

Locus EIM - Show locations on map


2. Save custom grid configurations

When you see a pushpin icon below a grid, that means you can name and save your current configuration in the grid, including column visibility, column order, sorting, and column width.

So if you use certain grids all the time, and prefer to view the data in a specific way, just click the pushpin and save your configuration for future use.

Locus EIM - Save custom grid


3. Save and share maps and reports on the dashboard

You can share saved maps and formatted reports with your colleagues and team members on the Project Manager Console dashboard. Saved maps and quick reports will show up under the sections “Quick Reports” and “Quick Maps”.

See Tip #4 to learn how to make this dashboard your default homepage.

Locus EIM - Save and share maps


4. Set your homepage and your preferred default grid row count

EIM user options includes some very cool features. You can access your user options from the EIM menu: just click [your username] > Manage Profile.

Here, you can set your preferred homepage, enable filter options for easier login, and— our favorite— the option to adjust the default number of records to display in all EIM grids (20 is just never enough!)

Locus EIM - Set your homepage


5. Lab Invoice Tracking

Full invoice tracking down to the parameter delivered level, to help you confirm that the lab gave you what you ordered, and that they’re charging you for exactly what they gave you.

You can find these forms at Input > Analytical > Lab Invoices.

Locus EIM - Lab invoice tracking


6. Simple or complex query building in a drag-and-drop interface

For users wanting to go beyond the standard “out-of-the-box” queries, EIM has an advanced query builder that lets SQL lovers go wild and share their results with other. You can even query data across multiple EIM sites to which you have access.

Locus EIM - Query builder


7. Easy data preparation for annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs)

If you have the Locus EIM Water configuration, you will be able to prepare data tables for the CCR reports that all water providers are required to prepare annually. This is a huge timesaver compared to manually preparing these data summaries that are required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Locus EIM - CCR


8. Send your sampling plan directly to your mobile device

With EIM’s integration with mobile, you can create a sampling plan in EIM and send that plan to one or more people to perform field sampling. This saves mountains of time and ensures your field teams have the correct information they need to collect their field data.

The sampling team can sync anytime to have team members back in the office review the interim data.

Locus EIM - Mobile sample plan


9. Create NetDMR submittals directly from EIM

If you have to submit EPA NPDES DMRs, EIM can create the electronic NetDMR output, saving you time and effort and banishing (hopefully) those old, complex, and overly difficult paper forms.

Locus EIM - DMR


10. Support menu alerts you when new user guides, cheat sheets, training videos, or FAQs are posted

Locus is always busy creating new guide documents and help materials for our users, but it was hard to know when we added some new content.  Now, our Support menu itself will flag you as soon as something new is posted so you can check it out!

Locus EIM - Suport menu alerts




The recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unleashed a plethora of new products to improve the daily lives of consumers. One product that caught my environmental eye was the Hewlett-Packard HP Zvr. ZDNet describes the new hologram-based screen as a step toward “true holographic viewing”.
The reporter, Larry Dignan, goes on to say “a test drive of the display was notable, because it allowed you to manipulate content, dissect frogs, inspect the inner workings of the heart and play with architecture options.” I have personally not seen the display, but the idea of inspecting the inner workings of the heart got me dreaming of environmental-based solutions. Could 3D (in this case, 4K screen technology) be used to view underground contamination of water aquifers?   Imagine using 4K imagery, coupled with analytical data of water chemistry in our EIM system, add smartphone-delivered real-time field data plus smart apps and you have a complete and unique turnkey environmental package. Compliant heavy industries initially would benefit most, as they could finally collect previous unattainable data as well as display an accurate picture of contaminants and their impact on environment. Is a fully-integrated visual environmental 4K real time application in the future? One observation is certain, the rate of technology innovation, and more importantly, the rate of adoption, over the past 10 years surpasses even the wildest imagination.

There is a saying from the book and movie Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) “Water is powerful. It can wash away earth, put out fire, and even destroy iron. Water can carve its way through stone. And when trapped, water makes a new path.” There is also a famous Chinese proverb about water: “not only can water float a boat, it can sink it also.”

And with global water shortages on the horizon, climate change supporters say an extreme response will be needed from international governments to provide enough drinking water in some parts of the world. The World Bank in a report said that 1.4 million people could be facing water scarcity by 2025. But the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecast is even gloomier. It estimates that 47% of the world’s population could face water stress in the same period–equivalent to more than three billion people.

The issue isn’t restricted to countries that typically see temperatures soar like ones in the Middle East. Northern hemisphere nations like the U.K. are also finding themselves in the midst of a drought in some regions, forcing governments to start to take action. The U.K. government, for instance, plans to issue a Water White Paper this December (2011) that will focus on the future challenges facing the water industry and measures to increase protection of river flows during summer months. No one really knows whether this year’s snows and rains in California are providing only a temporary respite from a long dry spell or signaling a return to normal—or at least what much of the developed world considers normal.

Maybe Israel’s entrepreneurial approach to the issue is the way forward. In the recent book “The Big Thirst” Mr. Charles Fishman, makes an interesting argument for a market-based approach to water’s distribution and usage… But the fact remains that water scarcity is now firmly on the agenda of the world’s governments, and isn’t going to evaporate overnight.
“The Big Thirst” offers a torrent of statistics. It is overflowing with stories large and small about water: The average American flushes the toilet five times a day, the author says, using 18.5 gallons of water. That comes to “5.7 billion gallons of clean drinking water down the toilet.” An Australian rice farmer with 10,450 acres uses six gigaliters of water—that’s six billion liters, or enough to hand almost everyone on the planet a bottle of Evian.

Water is a local problem. The wastefulness (and water conservation) has little or no effect on people in other watersheds because water is so difficult to ship. Shipping consumes energy. Energy production generates GHG. Hence a close relationship between water and climate change. Compared to other big problems facing society today, such as finance, climate change, and energy consumption, they are all interconnected in some way. No way out. And water will move to the top of agenda during this decade.

Mr. Fishman predicts that we will arrive at a water solution by putting a market price on water, because in most places today, neither farms nor industry nor residents pay what it costs to develop, purify and deliver water to their faucets. Rather than pay a market price for their water—which would direct the resource to where it provided the most economic value—most users pay a rate set by the government or their water utility, a rate usually aimed only at recouping the portion of the cost not subsidized by the general taxpayer. This distortion tends to keep the retail price of water lower than it would otherwise be where water is scarce, encouraging consumption rather than conservation.

Mr. Fishman asserts that pricing water beyond a basic ration for all would “help fix everything else,” including scarcity, unequal distribution, misuse and waste. Putting the right price on water would stop us from using purified water to flush our toilets or water our lawns, and it would lead us to more aggressively tap our own wastewater—the water from your shower could be used to wash the car or water the lawn. “The right price changes how we see everything else about water.”

Tag Archive for: EIM

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