Gas Utility Upgrades to GIS for Outages, Compliance

Jefferson-Cocke County Utility District (JCCUD) is taking advantage of Esri’s Small Utility Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) program to improve outage response and better meet regulatory requirements with the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology. The Newport, Tennessee, gas utility company serves 7,300 homes and businesses in two counties.

Before the move to GIS, field crews had to rely on paper maps that were costly to produce and often outdated. Now JCCUD can respond to outages equipped with laptops and up-to-date GIS-based maps. Within the GIS, utility staff can view the entire gas network along with customer information, proposed and as-built data, orthophotographs, topographic maps, and street centerlines. The initial mobile GIS training session went smoothly, and JCCUD plans to make all work orders paperless by the end of the year.

Access to mobile GIS technology is also helping the gas utility in regulatory compliance reporting. JCCUD crews will have the ability to input data from the field and synchronize with the home database to ensure accuracy of valve and regulatory station maintenance as well as odorization and cathodic protection reports.

“Without the Small Utility ELA, we could not have managed this upgrade,” said Larry Masters, engineering/GIS coordinator for JCCUD. “We cut $1,200 this year in the cost of printing map books, not to mention the hours saved working on the map books and returning to the office for sketches. When we looked at the cost of the ELA and what it was saving our utility, we needed to do it.”

Through Esri’s Small Utility ELA program, small utilities receive unlimited deployments of Esri’s core ArcGIS platform as well as maintenance and support for products, staff training, passes to the Esri International User Conference, and Esri data models. The Small Utility ELA program is open to utilities with 100,000 meters or fewer.

For more information on the Small Utility ELA program and to listen to a podcast about it, visit To speak to an expert, call 800-447-9778, extension 2990.

[Source: Esri press release]

Spatial Analysis of Soil Water Balance in an Agricultural District of Southern Italy

Crop Modeling and Decision Support, 2009, 282-290

D. Ventrella, E. D. Giacomo, L. Giglio, M. Castellini and D. Palumbo

“An efficient management of water resources is considered very important for Italy and in particular for Southern areas characterized by a typical Mediterranean climate in order to improve the economical and environmental sustainability of the agricultural activity. The purpose of this study is to analyze the components of soil water balance in an important district of 110 Km2 situated in the Ionical coastal area of Southern Italy and mainly cropped with horticultural crops. The study was performed by using the spatially distributed and physically based model SIMODIS in order to individuate the best irrigation management maximizing the water use efficiency and minimizing water losses by deep percolation and soil evaporation. SIMODIS was applied for 24 soil types distributed in 96 cadastral units for three years characterized by low, normal and high spring summer rainfall. Water melon cultivation was simulated adopting three water supply managements: rainfed and two irrigation strategies based on ➀ soil water availability and ➁ plant water status adopting a threshold daily stress value. For each year and management, several water management indicators were calculated and mapped in GIS environment. For seasonal irrigation depth, actual evapotranspiration and irrigation efficiency, the cumulative distribution functions were also determined. The analysis allowed to individuate the areas particularly sensitive to water losses by deep percolation because of their hydraulic functions characterized by low water retention and large values of saturated hydraulic conductivity. For these areas, the irrigation based on plant water status caused very high water losses by drainage. At the contrary, the irrigation scheduled on soil base allowed to control better this component of soil water balance. SIMODIS resulted a useful tool to analyse the soil water balance at spatial scale and to support the local irrigation authority for planning the irrigation water distribution not only for economical and productive purposes but also for minimizing the pollution risks of deep soil and groundwater resources.”

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New Health Informatics Research Chair/Health Informatics Institute Scientific Director for Algoma University

Algoma University, in conjunction with ESRI Canada, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Nicola Shaw as Health Informatics Research Chair and Scientific Director for the Health Informatics Institute. In her role, Dr. Shaw will build on the health informatics (HI) research and potential that exists in Algoma region.

Dr. Nicola (Nikki) Shaw comes to the Health Informatics Institute from the University of Alberta, where she was named the first Research Chair of Health Informatics in Western Canada. Her expertise in applied health informatics positions her well to capitalize on the innovative HI solutions existing in the region. She will be looking to facilitate significant local, national and international research and collaboration in health informatics. She will undertake fundamental and applied research that enables health system innovation, as well as improved and more efficient patient-centered care.

Dr. Shaw received her Post-Graduate Certification in Health Research Methods at the University of Central Lancashire, UK 2001; PhD Health Informatics (University of Central Lancashire in collaboration with Oxford University Postgraduate Medical Education & Training, UK) 1997; Professional Certificate from the Market Research Society (UK) 1995; BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems with Management from the University of Central Lancashire, UK in 1994; and her HND in Business Information Technology from the University of Central Lancashire, UK in 1992.

She is a Fellow of the British Computing Society (FBCS), a Chartered Information Technology Professional (CITP) and a Registrant Level 3 (Highest) of the UK Council for Health Informatics Professionals (UKCHIP).

She is an Expert Advisor to Canada Health Infoway and has just completed her term on the Advisory Board for the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She has undertaken several pan-Canadian research studies in collaboration with Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute related to the use of Electronic Medical/Health Records in Canada. She is an invited member of the COACH Privacy & Security Committee which prepares the Canadian Guidelines for the Protection of Health Information bi-annually. She currently holds over $11 million in research funding.

Dr. Shaw was recruited to Canada in 2003 by the University of British Columbia where she was a Research Scientist with the Centre for Healthcare Innovation & Improvement at the Child and Family Research Institute in Vancouver. In April 2006, Dr. Nicola Shaw was appointed as the first endowed Research Chair of Health Informatics in Western Canada. As part of the Integrated Centre for Care Advancement through Research (iCARE), Dr. Shaw’s appointment was created in partnership between the former Capital Health and the University of Alberta.

Dr. Shaw’s published work includes two books on technology in primary care; the 2004, Canadian edition is entitled, “Computerization and Going Paperless in Canadian Primary Care.” and has become a recommended text for many physician offices undergoing transition to electronic medical records.

With an applied social research focus Dr. Shaw’s research interests concentrate on developing an understanding around the implementation, use, and sharing of medical records.

“Health informatics is an important emerging field that has provided valuable benefits to our community through advancements in health care,” said Dr. Richard Myers, President, Algoma University. “Dr. Shaw’s expertise will help us expand our research capacity and further develop and implement best practices in this area, as well as position Algoma University as a knowledge leader in health care.”

The research chair is funded for five years through support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), ESRI Canada and Algoma University. The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) worked in partnership with Algoma University on the development of this project. SSMIC’s strong relationship with ESRI Canada helped facilitate their contribution to the project, and SSMIC also collaborated with the National Institutes of Health Informatics (NIHI) to support and develop this initiative. Health informatics is an important sector for development in SSMIC’s strategic plan. As a result, SSMIC recognizes the need to bring in academic researchers, such as the health informatics research chair, to help further the work of local researchers in health informatics.

“Sault Ste. Marie has achieved significant success in applying health informatics to address community health goals, including improving access to services and preventing the spread of disease,” said Alex Miller, president, ESRI Canada. “We are proud to support Dr. Shaw in building on the city’s success in leveraging geospatial technologies to advance health research and improve the health of all Canadians.”

“It’s important to continue developing the intellectual property and technology sector in Sault Ste. Marie, which is why our government provided $684,200 to support innovative health care technology research at Algoma University,” said David Orazietti, MPP. “Investing in research that will improve patient care is essential to enhancing our health care system and it assists our city in attracting and retaining talented individuals such as Dr. Shaw, who will help position the university as a leader in health informatics.”

Dr. Shaw will build a health informatics research program based on the community’s strengths, pursue an active research program and teach one to two courses per year during her tenure as research chair. The research program will focus on the area of Primary Care Informatics and will engage local expertise in the applications of geospatial technologies, health system management and serious games for health, e.g., for training, health promotion and rehabilitation. Academically, the health informatics research chair is important in helping Algoma University pursue the development of educational programs and research projects that will contribute to the health informatics cluster.

[Source: Algoma University press release]

A Method for Quantifying Stream Network Topology over Large Geographic Extents

Journal of Spatial Hydrology, Vol.10, No.1 Spring 2010

R. Betz, N.P. Hitt, R.L. Dymond and C.D. Heatwole

“An understanding of stream network topology is necessary for a landscape-level perspective of stream hydrology and ecology. We present a method for quantifying stream network topology that overcomes computational constraints of DEM-based analysis over large geographic extents. This method converts vector stream flow paths to raster flow paths to predict spatially-explicit stream properties from a network-constrained upstream cell count (UCC) to flow origins. UCC data enable calculations of stream network structure at designated grain sizes and spatial extents. UCC values were strongly related to empirical measures of upstream basin area (R2 = 0.94) and stream width (R2 = 0.65) within the mid-Atlantic highlands, USA, suggesting that UCC data provide a reasonable surrogate for empirical measures of stream size within the stream network. By reducing raster grids to the flow path, the UCC method reduced file sizes by 99% compared to digital elevation models. The UCC method can improve our understanding of fluvial landscape hydrology and ecology by enabling spatial analysis of stream networks over large geographic extents.”

Exploring Population Spatial Concentrations in Northern Ireland by Community Background and Other Characteristics: An Application of Geographically Weighted Spatial Statistics

International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Volume 24, Issue 8 August 2010 , pages 1193 – 1221

C. D. Lloyd

“Information on how populations are spatially concentrated by different characteristics is a key means of guiding government policies in a variety of contexts, in addition to being of substantial academic interest. In particular, to reduce inequalities between groups, it is necessary to understand the characteristics of these groups in terms of their composition and their geographical structure. This article explores the degree to which the population of Northern Ireland is spatially concentrated by a range of characteristics. There is a long history of interest in residential segregation by religion in Northern Ireland; this article assesses population concentration not only by community background (‘religion or religion brought up in’) but also by housing tenure, employment and other socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. The spatial structure of geographical variables can be captured by a range of spatial statistics including Moran’s I. Such approaches utilise information on connections between observations or the distances between them. While such approaches are conceptually an improvement on standard aspatial statistics, a logical further step is to compute statistics on a local basis on the grounds that most real-world properties are not spatially homogenous and, therefore, global measures may mask much variation. In population geography, which provides the substantive focus for this article, there are still relatively few studies that assess in depth the application of geographically weighted statistics for exploring population characteristics individually and for exploring relations between variables. This article demonstrates the value of such approaches by using a variety of geographically weighted statistical measures to explore outputs from the 2001 Census of Population of Northern Ireland. A key objective is to assess the degree to which the population is spatially divided, as judged by the selected variables. In other words, do people cluster more strongly with others who share their community background or others who have a similar socioeconomic status in some respect? The analysis demonstrates how geographically weighted statistics can be used to explore the degree to which single socioeconomic and demographic variables and relations between such variables differ at different spatial scales and at different geographical locations. For example, the results show that there are regions comprising neighbouring areas with large proportions of people from the same community background, but with variable unemployment levels, while in other areas the first case holds true but unemployment levels are consistently low. The analysis supports the contention that geographical variations in population characteristics are the norm, and these cannot be captured without using local methods. An additional methodological contribution relates to the treatment of counts expressed as percentages.”