News Story Archive

Web Map Viewers Help See the Big Picture

Public Affairs
Published June 1, 2012
This is a screen shot of an aerial image as seen on one of the District's web map viewers.

This is a screen shot of an aerial image as seen on one of the District's web map viewers.

The concept of a web map viewer is to make spatially oriented data and related information available to a wide viewing audience for general education, planning and decision making.  Most everything under the Corps’ myriad missions has spatial association, such as levees, lakes, real estate, regulatory permitting, tribal partnering, planning, environmental restoration and cultural work activities.

“The content of map viewers can be very general or project specific,” said Geospatial Unit Leader John Peterson.  “We have built both types. There is actually an Army directive that all districts will have an Enterprise type viewer that can be accessed from the centralized National CorpsMap System.”

The District’s viewers are used for district, regional and national information sharing.

“The web-based mapping system can coalesce the ever increasing volumes of spatially oriented data used by the district into an easy to navigate interface,” Peterson said.  “It adds value to the collective body of information that resides in the system, facilitating the viewing and analysis of multi-themed and multi-temporal mapping at every desktop in the District and out to the wider Corps network.”

Current viewers available through the “one-stop” Geospatial Web Page located at include enterprise viewers, most recent of which is the Albuquerque District Intranet Mapping System II.  This viewer includes a district-wide picture of project and field office locations and relevant linked information and multiple other spatially oriented themes. 

Viewers are built by Geospatial Unit employees in cooperation with project managers and project delivery team members.  To date, the available viewers have been put together by Doug Walther, District cartographer. Hydraulic Civil Engineer Roberta Ball has also provided critical technical assistance.

“This District has followed the same course that most of the Corps’ districts have followed regarding the use of advancements in the Geographic Information System (GIS) technology realm,” Peterson said.  “Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) GIS mapping software has been in use here for more than 25 years and is considered the standard throughout the Corps and the world.”

Peterson believes, through advancements in software and hardware technology that have simplified the use of GIS, increasing numbers of professionals in many disciplines operating throughout the Corps are now using GIS on a daily basis.

“With the expansion of available web services and the natural progression of GIS’ direction to simplify delivery of geographic information to the masses, in the last two to four years, web mapping applications have exploded onto the scene,” he said.  “Now, cloud-based imagery sets from ESRI and Bing and other focused map services maintained by local, state and national agencies, are readily available and in use in developing such things as tax assessor parcels, USGS stream gages and national weather service applications, to name a few.”

The District’s Geospatial Unit employees have tracked these advancements and are now ready to share the many uses that web map viewers facilitate.  For the future, they are working toward having the District’s system serve as an interface, or dashboard, for use by executive users that will allow for access to project metrics and P2 reporting.

“We continue to augment our dam projects’ accessible information sets, such as on-site Geodetic Control and REMIS based Real Estate and Asset holdings,” Peterson said.  “We will continue to tie associated geographies i.e., levees and restoration areas, with their related scanned documents, such as project plans, studies and reports for more efficient retrieval through a viewer interface.”

According to Peterson, expect to hear about short training workshops to expose District personnel to the viewers’ functionality.