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  • How is a map projection like an orange peel?

    July 31st, 2018 by Josephine Hatton


     

    You may remember your eighth-grade science teacher explaining map projections using the orange-peel analogy: imagine the Earth is an orange.  In order to draw a map of the surface of the orange, we have to find a way to flatten the peel onto a flat piece of paper or computer screen.  But the orange is a sphere, so the only way to do that is to stretch or cut the peel in some places.  Unavoidably, that stretching causes distortion.

     

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    There are lots of ways to do this.  The more you cut the peel up into small pieces, the easier it is to flatten them without too much stretching—but you’re left with a mess of little pieces.  If this is a map, it won’t be a very convenient one.  But if you leave the pieces large, or don’t cut the peel at all, then it will have to stretch a lot to flatten onto the page. 

     

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  • Top 15 Uses for GIS

    June 18th, 2018 by Josephine Hatton


     

    Wait, what?  What is GIS?

    GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems.  It refers to mapping technology that brings together hardware (computers, mobile devices, GPS units) and specialized software to collect, analyze, and model data about the world around us.  It has almost unlimited applications in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. 

    1. Mapping municipal, state, and federal infrastructure 

    GIS is an excellent tool for mapping various types of infrastructure at a range of scales, allowing the user to see them all in their relative locations, with all their associated data.  

     

    With GIS a town can make a map showing the location, diameter, material, age, and flow direction of all the water conduits under their streets, along with hydrants, valves, pump stations, catch basins, outfalls, and so on.   

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  • 5 Municipal Regulatory Tools to Protect Water Quality

    March 21st, 2018 by Bob Hartzel


     

    Regulatory tools are “non-structural” practices that can be an effective component of your long-term plan to control watershed pollution sources. The general categories of local controls that can be used to protect water resources are summarized below, followed by a table with links to example municipal ordinances.

               

    1. Zoning: Zoning ordinances are used to regulate the land use activities and development density allowed in each section of a town. Zoning regulations typically applies only to future site development and redevelopment.

    2. Subdivision Regulations establish requirements and review procedures for developments of two or more units. Like zoning ordinances, they typically apply only to new development and redevelopment. These regulations often include requirements for site plan review, to ensure that the project plans comply with all regulations. 

    3. Board of Health Regulations may be enacted where existing state laws are determined to be insufficient for the protection of public health. For example, Boards of Health can regulate septic systems more stringently than required under state law, and can further regulate the use, storage and handling of fuel and other hazardous materials in specified areas. 

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  • Top 5 Uses For Drones in Engineering and Ecology

    March 1st, 2018 by Eileen Pannetier


     

    Over the past few years, drones have evolved from something under every Christmas tree to a valuable tool and investment for civil engineers and environmental scientists.  The use of drones in engineering is expanding rapidly as the accuracy of these tools increases and as costs go down.  There are still barriers to using drones, including the time necessary for pilot training, the technical challenges and software expertise required for post-processing drone imagery, and a lack of uniform standards for products.  EagleEye AeroboticsTM, a subsidiary of Comprehensive Environmental Inc. (CEI), has met these challenges to provide industry-leading drone services, including the top five uses described below.

    1. Investigations of Large or Inaccessible Sites

    Large and/or inaccessible locations such as deep woods, expansive wetlands, densely vegetated stream corridors, and salt marshes are ideal for drone investigations. In just a few hours, drones can provide high-resolution imagery for areas that would take days or weeks to assess on foot.  For example, locating beaver dams throughout an extensive stream system can be done quickly and easily with a drone. A sediment plume degrading a river can be rapidly tracked back to its source, such as an unstabilized soil stockpile, helping to speed up mitigation efforts and minimize habitat damage. Big storms may cause an unknown amount of erosion and damage, but drones can be used to quickly assess large areas and prioritize response actions.  As with any technology, there are limitations, but investigations suddenly become quick, effective, and geolocated for easy and precise repetition. 

     

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