Attracting Talent – Simple Steps, Great Results

Lindsay Pearsall - Director of Human Resources

Earth science and engineering firms are in a buyer’s market in 2019. Anyone in a leadership position in the Architectural/ Engineering/ Construction industry knows the mantra of “Always Be Recruiting.” At Aspect, we are no different. Our success (and our clients’) hinges on our ability to find and retain the most talented consultants in our industry. It’s essential, then, that our Human Resources department takes a very thoughtful approach to finding and hiring this top-tier talent.

Recently, at RecruitMAX 2019 – one of the A/E/C industry’s top professional industry conferences—Aspect’s HR Director Lindsay Pearsall shared a segment of her approach with a presentation “How to Build a REAL Candidate Pipeline with Phone Interviews and Informational Interviews.”

Some takeaways of Lindsay’s presentation are:

  • Why treating your candidate like a client should be your #1 priority

  • Conducting informational interviews to go beyond your current hiring needs

  • Simple solutions, like how and when to follow up with individuals, to maintain relationships

Lindsay’s presentation stressed that hiring managers need to remember how difficult it is to be a candidate. By flipping the script and treating candidates like a client, we are able to humanize the experience. Whether someone is hired or not, they should have an expectation of a positive experience and feel valued as a professional and as a human.

See current job openings for Aspect here:

New GIS Tool Helps Remove Barriers to Salmon Habitat Connectivity

Clean, cold water. Lush riparian vegetation. Gravels for spawning. These are some of the elements that create healthy habitat for salmon. The Upper Columbia region has some of the best in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, not all of this habitat is within the salmon’s reach. Removing barriers such as culverts and dams is a top priority for salmon recovery goals, but there are thousands of barriers, limited resources to remove them, and a diverse group of stakeholders with issues to address. What everyone wants to know first is: how do we decide WHICH barriers to remove?

Instream barriers such as culverts like this can limit fish passage to available habitat.

Enter a New Tool for Fish Habitat Decision Making

In partnership with the Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, the Upper Columbia Regional Technical Team (RTT), and a technical steering committee, Aspect created a GIS-based decision support tool that summarizes the overall quality of ecological conditions surrounding each instream barrier within the Wenatchee Basin. This custom spatial model provides insight into critical questions regarding barrier-removal priority:

  • Is there habitat available upstream from the barrier that salmon currently cannot access?

  • Is that available habitat of sufficient quality for salmon?

  • Is there known fish usage near the barrier already?

  • Are there barriers downstream blocking fish access?

This prioritization tool provides salmon-recovery stakeholders with a common approach to answer these questions. The variables under consideration at a barrier—upstream habitat quality, local stream temperature, connectivity to other barriers, etc.—each receive a score. Those scores are then added up to a total priority tier ranking for that barrier. By assessing each barrier through this scoring process, we’ve created an actionable apples-to-apples comparison of habitat benefits associated with barrier removal.

A preview of barrier removal ranking priority data.

A preview of barrier removal ranking priority data.

A Tier 1 ranking indicates the top priority for removal, indicating more biological benefit gained from a barrier’s removal. Tier 4 ranking is the lowest priority ranking, indicating little biological benefit gained from a barrier’s removal. UCSRB and the RTT use these categories to guide decisions on proposed project funding. The rankings are updated as available data sources improve.  Preview the results HERE. This tool will allow stakeholders to align and coordinate their barrier removal work towards the larger common goal of salmon-habitat connectivity within the Upper Columbia and throughout the state.

If interested in adapting this tool for your project and/or basin(s), contact Robyn Pepin for more information.

ETA (6/3/2019): Robyn Pepin and Taylor Rulien’s poster for this GIS tool won best analytical data presentation at 2019’s WAURISA Conference. Check it out here.

Talking Field Data Collection at 2019 OCEAN Connect Conference on April 11

Over the past decade or two, technological advancements have presented opportunities to streamline field data collection. However, migrating field staff to a paperless workflow requires more than choosing the right software and hardware.

On April 11, Aspect’s John Warinner and Robyn Pepin will cover this topic and give tips on how to effectively convert field data collection from paper to digital process at the 2018 Oregon Conservation Education and Assistance Network (OCEAN) Connect Conference in Sunriver, Oregon.

Key areas of the presentation will include:

  • Overview of commercial off-the-shelf software and reporting systems

  • Case studies and lessons learned by Aspect’s field and data teams

  • Successful talking points to convince decision makers

See good field techniques and analysis put into practice, with some mountain biking thrown in for good measure here:

It's IPAD Mini vs. Trimble GPS in a mapmaking showdown on the sunny trails of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust in the Wenatchee Valley.

And read more about our experience with how one suite of field data technology has improved our workflow.

November 1 at NWGIS 2018: The Art of the Helpful GIS Presentation

Associate Data Scientist Parker Wittman and Senior Geospatial Data Scientist Blair Deaver will be on a panel — “The Art of the Helpful GIS Presentation” — this Thursday at NWGIS 2018 in Bremerton. The four-person panel presents on tips and techniques to deliver a GIS presentation at a conference or at the office.  Parker will discuss ways to improve the delivery of a presentation and Blair will present on tips to master a successful technical demonstration.

ESRI President Jack Dangermond is giving the highly anticipated keynote speech at this year’s conference on the future of GIS.

Visualizing Stormwater Infiltration + Visualizing the Story

Aspect recently led a first-of-its-kind approach to help the City of SeaTac (City) understand water quality requirements at the land use planning stage. Aspect, along with Robin Kirschbaum, developed publicly-available webmaps that visualize stormwater infiltration potential at a parcel level across the City’s 10 square miles. These maps will help both City planners as well as developers screen development options with infiltration requirements and make this step of the land use planning process much more efficient.

Take a look at the interactive Story Map for this exciting new tool here:

Read Emelie’s article in the Daily Journal of Commerce about this pioneering project.

Meet Mike Mills

Mike Mills recently joined Aspect's Portland, Oregon office.  Here are five questions we asked to get to know him better.

Mike Mills, Project Software Developer


1.    Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 

I was born in Portland Oregon, but grew up in Sisters, Oregon (just north of Bend).  

2.    What inspired you to pursue software development? What made you curious about it?

I learned how to code my freshman year of high school and from then on knew exactly what I wanted to do with my professional life. 

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 

I really enjoy solving complex problems, which coding allows me to do with ease. The thing that excites me the most is to finish a project and have a client be completely satisfied with the work that’s been done. 

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 

When I‘m not working, I enjoy running around the Portland waterfront and reading with my wife. I also enjoy salmon fishing every season with my Dad and Mom in Newport, Oregon. 

5.    Where in the world would you like to travel next? 

After visiting Italy this last October, I would love to go back to Europe and visit either France or Spain. My wife speaks French, so that would be a bonus having a translator. 

Meet Chris Bellusci and Blair Deaver

Chris Bellusci and Blair Deaver recently joined Aspect's Bend, Oregon office.  Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better.

Chris Bellusci, Associate Business Systems Architect

Chris hiking near the Maroon Bells -- two peaks in the Elk Mountains in Colorado.

Chris hiking near the Maroon Bells -- two peaks in the Elk Mountains in Colorado.

1.    Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 

I was born and raised in Missoula, Montana on a small ranch, where I developed my love for the outdoors and our natural resources. From Missoula, I moved to Seattle where I spent 10 years going to school, working, and exploring all the great outdoor activity it had to offer. But I felt I needed to get back to something a bit smaller in city size (and more sunshine) so I moved to Bend, Oregon, a place I really call home and have loved it ever since. 

2.    What inspired you to pursue data infrastructure? What made you curious about it?

My degree is in Electrical Engineering, but my first job right out of school was for Boeing Aerospace where I supported the hardware and software that developed the first design-by-wire aircraft, the 777. I saw the power of how technology can revolutionize an industry or a way of doing business. This set my path into the world of software. 

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated?

My focus is helping industries solve their complex business problems by applying technology solutions. My real belief is business process should drive the technology approach, which is why I enjoy learning so much about our client’s business and helping them to find the best solution to meet their business needs. I believe that applying technology to better manage our natural resources is the next great frontier.

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 

Being outside!!! I love Bend because of the four seasons it has to offer and I love being outside in each one of them, whether if it’s 90 degrees in July or 10 degrees in January. Hiking, biking, camping, skiing--I enjoy all of it!  

5.    Where in the world would you like to travel next? 

It has been over 15 years since I have visited Europe and I would like to get back there again this time with our two children. I would like them to see and experience other cultures, plus I have an older brother that lives in London, UK, so a good excuse to go.

Blair Deaver, Senior Geospatial Data Scientist

Blair riding the Jem biking trail in Utah.

Blair riding the Jem biking trail in Utah.

1.    Where are you from? If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, what brought you here? 

I grew up in Washington, D.C. I fled west for college in search of real mountain ranges I could explore on my mountain bike.

2.    What inspired you to pursue GIS and IT? What made you curious about it?

When I was going to school at the University of Oregon I worked part-time for the US Forest Service as a Hydro-technician in Oakridge, OR. I was a seasonal employee with aspirations for a full-time field job.  I quickly determined that a full-time job would be difficult. A peer at the time mentioned to me that if he were me, he would learn everything there is to know about this thing called “GIS”.  I quickly transitioned much of my school focus to Geography and GIS.  I was fascinated by GIS and quickly learned all I could.  When I graduated college, I was fortunate to get a job at Esri in Redlands, CA. I went from working in the woods for 10 hours a day to helping Esri customers solve technical problems behind a desk. The transition was a bit rough at first, but I have loved every minute of it. 

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 

I love the pairing of earth science + technology to solve real problems. I enjoy working with others to focus on the mastery of understanding a problem rather than quickly jumping to an engineering solution. I have worked over 20 years in the geospatial and IT industry. I have seen lots of change in the industry. What motivates me daily is to always keep learning. Being able to design and deliver technology solutions for earth science customers requires technical agility, creativity, and a solid understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 

I love being a father and husband. You may also find me riding and racing my bicycle on trails throughout the PNW. I also love trail running and winter sport activities.

5.    Where in the world would you like to travel next? 

I would love to travel to Africa. All parts of Africa. I better save up my vacation.

New LiDAR Maps Reveal Skagit County's Geologic Landscape

LiDAR mapping – the process of methodically using pulsed lasers from a plane/helicopter to map aerial-view landscape features – helps communities plan for landslide hazards, understand potential floodplains, and learn about geologic features previously unknown. Because LiDAR penetrates through tree canopies, it produces much greater detail and precision than typical aerial maps. So, when new LiDAR maps are released (particularly in areas with heavy tree cover, thus meaning much longer lead times to create new maps) – it is a cause for excitement in the earth science and geographic information system (GIS) communities.

Skagit County just finished a year-long LiDAR mapping project of the county and produced a great new story map that reveals features--including a prehistoric landslide near Cultus Mountain – that were not apparent on the previous aerial maps.

The region’s first generation of LiDAR maps was a tremendous advancement over the aerial photo-based survey maps that had been used for generations. While very useful, the limitations in quality of the older LiDAR was most apparent in steep and heavily vegetated areas – frustrating because those are exactly the areas where you most want the best data. The greater detail and accuracy of this new generation of LiDAR maps presents a leap forward in resolution and ability to survey these important areas. 

Compare the quality of the 2006 LiDAR map of Guemes Island (left) to the new version (right)

Compare the quality of the 2006 LiDAR map of Guemes Island (left) to the new version (right)

The new generation also frequently includes “green light LiDAR”, a method with the ability to penetrate water and reveal the bathymetry of shorelines, streams, rivers, and other shallow water bodies.  Both of these improvements greatly improve our ability to rely on the new LiDAR maps for interpretation of geomorphic features and active processes, and detect natural and human-caused changes in the environment. 

Take a look: Skagit Lidar Map Journal

Aspect’s Growing Data Science and Mapping Services

Science and engineering insights fueled, managed, and clearly communicated through technology. 

This sums up Aspect's successful client-focused approach since our inception in 2001. This year, we’ve enhanced the technology piece of this formula by adding three new staff, with over 10 years working together, focused on software development, technology integration, and geospatial data science. Chris Bellusci, Associate Business Systems Architect, and Blair Deaver, Senior Geospatial Data Scientist join Aspect’s recently opened Bend, Oregon office; and Mike Mills, Senior Project Software Developer, joins Aspect’s growing Portland, Oregon office.

These three will enhance Aspect’s already robust Data + Mapping services—helping our clients and project teams with solutions like map-integrated stormwater monitoring dashboards; environmental data management system design and integration; technology needs assessment and road-mapping; web map and GIS application development; integrated systems for mobile field data collection; and the development of machine learning-based approaches to basin-scale hydrology issues.

Data + Mapping Practice Lead and Aspect’s Director of Professional Services Parker Wittman explains the benefits to clients, “Chris, Blair, and Mike boost our core skills and add industry-leading, sought-after services like web development and cloud-based data management expertise,” Wittman said. “Reflecting the world at large, our clients will continue to seek out solutions that are interactive and mobile-platform friendly, that translate large amounts of data into scientific and business insights. These clients require teams that are analytical high-performers, who speak in the languages of business, regulation, earth science, and technology.”

Chris Bellusci

Chris Bellusci

Chris Bellusci recognizes Aspect as an emerging leader in the data science and mapping world. “Joining Aspect was a clear choice for us. They’ve always partnered their earth engineering and science experts with creative technologists focused on client satisfaction. The three of us (Bellusci, Deaver, and Mills) see a lot of potential to help Aspect’s growing client base,” Bellusci said. “The cloud and web tools we leverage can shrink project times and costs—for example turning a typically three-week monitoring report process into three days. Mountains of data that were tracked by hand previously can now be managed in the cloud and presented to decision makers in minutes instead of weeks.”

Chris has been working in the world of IT/software development, support, and product management for more than 20 years, with an educational background in Electrical Engineering. For the past 12 of those years, Chris has been helping clients plan for and build technology-driven solutions related to earth science problems. He is a seasoned project and client manager with a penchant for new business development. 

Blair Deaver

Blair Deaver

Blair Deaver’s educational background is in Environmental Studies and GIS. His geospatial expertise is both broad (everything from open source GIS, scripting, mobile development, dev ops, data management, enterprise IT) and deep—he is a recognized Esri GIS expert and is Amazon Web Services certified. Blair is known for an incredibly nimble style of problem-solving, a trait that meshes well with Aspect’s overall approach to client services. 

Mike Mills

Mike Mills

Mike Mills’s core expertise/background is in web and database development—he’s done everything from statistical analysis (writing custom kriging algorithms for in-browser spatial analyses) to mobile application development.  He’s a full-stack developer with a decade of experience delivering solutions for earth science and engineering projects. Mike’s educational background is in Mathematics and Computer Science.

Chris, Blair, and Mike all joined Aspect from GeoEngineers, where they had previously worked as a team for the better part of 10 years. Together—with Associate Water Resources Engineer, John Warinner—Chris and Blair make up Aspect’s new Bend, Oregon office. With Mike joining Aspect’s growing Portland office as well, Aspect is continuing its earnest expansion into the Oregon earth + water market. The experts who are part of Aspect emerging Oregon presence service all the firm’s core practice areas—and are collectively a reflection of Aspect’s multidisciplinary approach.


The Story of a 106-Year-Old Northwest Map Making Institution

The color of the water is off; it’s too dark. So he prints the map three more times, each time adjusting a small detail.”  

Yup, that’s map making. Aspect's mapping team was nodding along to this touching Seattle Times story about a 106-year-old map-making business. We’ve had a Kroll map hanging in the office ever since Aspect’s early days for motivation and inspiration. It serves as an important reminder that you never know the longevity and influence the maps you create just might have, even the little details have to be just right.

The Kroll map hanging in Aspect's Seattle office

The Beauty and Power of LiDAR in Geology

Kudos to the good people at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)/Washington Geological Survey for their absolutely incredible Esri Story Map, The Bare Earth.

Here at Aspect, we use regional LiDAR data treasure troves nearly every single day. From landslide hazard analysis, to stormwater infiltration feasibility, to fault identification and mapping–our team of geologists and GIS analysts are well familiar with the power of this incredible, rich data.  

However, we've never seen such a thoughtful, thorough, and beautiful presentation of LiDAR's role in geology as this. In addition to the breathtaking LiDAR visualizations, it's a wonderful example of the narrative and explanatory power of a story map

Bravo, DNR. Bravo.

...oh... and happy GIS Day/Post-GIS Day! This is a wonderful way to celebrate.

Meet Caroline Van Slyke

Caroline Van Slyke recently joined Aspect's Seattle office. Here are five questions we asked to get to know her better.

    Caroline Van Slyke, Senior CAD Specialist

    Van Slyke.jpeg

    1. Where are you from?

    I hail from a small town in northeast Ohio that had one stop light. We lived on a dirt road and couldn’t see the neighbor’s house because it was too far away.  After years of high humidity, winter blizzards, and lake-effect snow, I packed everything up and headed west to the Emerald City of Seattle.  I’ve been here for almost 30 years and never tire of this beautiful state.

    2.    What inspired you to pursue CAD? What made you curious about it?

    To me, CAD wouldn’t exist if drafting never existed. One of the classes I took during my senior year in high school was a drafting class where we used pencils and T-squares because CAD did not exist.  The subject matter came very easily and as a result, I was put into a small subset of students affectionately named “All You Others” that did advanced studies while the rest of the class followed the standard curriculum.  it was so enjoyable that I decided to pursue an AA in Mechanical Engineering.

    3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 

    Every day, there is something new and exciting to work on!  Over my career, I have helped engineering professionals with many different projects spanning all engineering disciplines, which affords exciting learning opportunities daily.  It’s fun to have a pulse on the Puget Sound region by way of being involved with projects in our line of work.

    4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 

    I secretly rock out and play the blues on my guitar and when it’s not raining, drive my car around the track at Pacific Northwest Raceways at high velocities.  I also indulge in video games when time permits.

    5.    What is the most unusual thing in your wallet, pocket, or purse right at this moment?

    Just for conversation starters, I have a 45-rpm record adapter that I will occasionally show to a post-vinyl record era person and see if they can guess what it is.

    Visualizing the Gender Wage Gap at the 2017 ESRI Conference

    In the map-making world of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ESRI is the de facto software of the industry. To keep up on all things GIS-related, Aspect’s GIS crew attends conference and networking events, including this year’s annual ESRI User Conference in San Diego.

    Aspect's Senior GIS Analyst Robyn Pepin (far left), other members of WWGT, and ESRI President Jack Dangermond (middle) at the 2017 ESRI User Conference.

    Aspect's Senior GIS Analyst Robyn Pepin (far left), other members of WWGT, and ESRI President Jack Dangermond (middle) at the 2017 ESRI User Conference.

    This year, Senior GIS Analyst Robyn Pepin attended the conference representing both Aspect and Washington Women in GIS and Technology (WWGT). Several members of Aspect’s GIS staff participate in WWGT -- a group who together promote a diverse work community by providing support and opportunity for women to advance their spatial careers. 

    At this year’s conference, WWGT submitted a poster to ESRI’s annual contest: Washington State Gender Wage Gap in the Work Force. This poster was designed to encourage a data-driven conversation surrounding the gender wage gap and included the history of women’s contribution to the technology field. Aspect’s Kaitlin Schrup contributed a historical timeline graphic to the poster, and Robyn Pepin presented the group’s poster with other WWGT members

    To learn more about WWGT, check out their Facebook page: 

    Check out a story map about the poster here:

    When Science Meets Bike to Work Month

    With May just wrapped up, Aspect's annual participation in Bike to Work Month is in the books! This year, 40 Aspect employees participated in the Washington Bikes Bike Everywhere Challenge. All month long, we logged our bike rides and commuting mileage to and from our offices in Bainbridge Island, Bellingham, Portland, Seattle, Wenatchee, and Yakima to compete with other Washington Architecture and Engineering firms for the coveted 2017 A&E Bike to Work Month trophy. 

    The highly coveted (depending on who’s asking) Golden Helmet that Aspect won in the A&E section of the 2016 Bike-to-Work challenge.

    The highly coveted (depending on who’s asking) Golden Helmet that Aspect won in the A&E section of the 2016 Bike-to-Work challenge.

    For some Aspect-ians, it isn’t enough to just ride bikes around to compete for a prize. Bike to Work Month presents the perfect opportunity to strap some expensive field gear to our bikes and mix a little science into our weekend rides. On a recent weekend, an Aspect team set out to do just this by testing two different GPS mapping devices along trails in the beautiful Chelan-Douglas Land Trust in the Wenatchee Valley.

    Watch the video for a firsthand look at the trail ride.

    Accuracy is at the heart of our Data and Mapping studio group. Some mapping devices are more accurate than others. A little extra effort selecting the right piece of gear before rolling out to a site visit can lead to the creation of a better dataset to help get the job done. The difference in GPS device accuracy can be hard to appreciate by reading raw numbers from a manufacturer’s specifications, but a visual presentation can drive the message home and show how your data can be improved by selecting the right device.

    To demonstrate the importance of using the right tool for the job, a senior GIS analyst and her loyal canine sidekick chose to ride a loop of the Sage Hills trail system to put two common tools of the trade to the test – the Apple iPad Mini (tablet GPS) and the Trimble R1 submeter (submeter GPS).

    Apple iPad Mini (left) and the Trimble R1 Submeter (right)

    Apple iPad Mini (left) and the Trimble R1 Submeter (right)

    After their ride, the team dropped by Aspect’s Wenatchee office and crunched the data, mapping out the trails tracked by both the tablet GPS and the submeter GPS. While the calculated overall ride length varied by only a few percentage points between the two devices, a close inspection of the data revealed dramatic variation in the projection of the trail lines over an aerial image. As shown in the photos below, the path tracked by the tablet GPS typically deviated +/- 16 feet away from the trail mapped by the submeter GPS and contradicted the trail lines visible in the overlaid aerial photos.

     This disparity is a case study in why the tablet GPS can be a good tool for recording a general site location, while the submeter GPS excels at capturing the integrity of the details at a site. The Aspect team’s efforts demonstrated the importance of high quality tools for quality data—and high quality bike rides!

    Lea Beard Talks Tableau and EQuIS at ICEDM in Oregon

    Aspect’s Lea Beard was invited to speak at the 7th Annual International Conference for Environmental Data Management (ICEDM) this week in Oregon.  Lea’s talk is on using environmental data management systems such as EQuIS in conjunction with powerful graphical analytics systems like Tableau to easily produce reliable, beautiful insights into data.



    Environmental Data Management Done Right: EQuIS in Action

    Aspect’s Data + Mapping team uses time-saving tools to streamline our data analysis and processing to inform conclusions, design, and reporting—at the center of which is the environmental data management system EQuIS. Having long been leaders in the field of environmental chemistry data management, we have recently migrated from home-built, custom database systems to this industry standard. Our expertise with this powerful software has been bolstered by Senior Staff Data Scientist Lea Beard, who joined Aspect last summer. She is an EQuIS expert who turns her deep analytical chemistry and data management skills into efficiencies and insights for Aspects project teams and clients.

    Why we use EQuIS:

    • It is reliable and stable, ensuring the integrity of our clients’ valuable data.
    • It helps us to process, review, manage, and analyze data as rapidly as our projects move.
    • It enables us easily tailor reporting outputs to the nuanced needs of a project.
    • It ensures adherence to standards and helps us to maintain consistency across projects.
    • It safeguards our data’s compliance with environmental regulatory standards.

    Created by EarthSoft, EQuIS is optimized to handle a broad-range of environmental data—particularly environmental chemistry data. EQuIS gives us the “brain” to formulate answers to the questions its users may ask, such as:

    • How many fish passed through this culvert last year?
    • To what extent have the concentrations of chlorinated solvents in groundwater responded to the remediation system operation?
    • Was the Reporting Detection Limit for Lead low enough to meet the Quality Assurance Project Plan?
    •  What were water level elevations in this monitoring well network from 2010 to 2015?

    Having this framework already in place saves us and our clients time and money that would otherwise be spent building or customizing software to meet ever-changing needs. EQuIS also contains built-in solutions for common problems encountered in environmental reporting. It’s been put to the test by a wide cross-section of users—consultants, public agencies, corporations, laboratories—who have contributed their feedback and worked out bugs as they go. With a diverse group of users informing how it works for them, EQuIS is able to keep up with the state of environmental reporting.

    Case Study in How EQuIS Simplifies Our Data Collection

    Our staff heads out to a project site, tablet loaded with Fulcrum in hand, and begins to collect data. When the day is done, they send samples to the lab for analysis. Taking the field observations and measurements from Fulcrum and the analytical results from the lab, Lea feeds these two data sets alongside one another into EQuIS. With these normally separate datasets stored together in one spot, EQuIS makes it easy to access and search. Automated alerts and reporting based on preset parameters (perhaps a particular contaminant level has been detected or exceeded) means that project teams can make timely decisions about their next round of data collection or further investigation/inquiry. Reversing the direction of the data, Lea can then feed those results back into Fulcrum, sending it out to the team in the field, ensuring they have the most up-to-date information at the site. In the past this information exchange would have taken a week, but with EQuIS and Fulcrum, it takes mere hours.

    EQuIS weaves together the data streams and creates meaningful output.

    A Helping Hand Sets Clients on the Right Data Management Path

    While EQuIS has the power and flexibility to make managing data easy, it can be a bit daunting to learn and implement. Lea helps guide clients through the set-up process – deciding on reference values, figuring out which lab electronic data deliverable formats to use, building reporting standards – forming the framework of their ongoing data management needs. From there, Aspect can help clients create software customizations to make summing groups of analytes (such as polychlorinated biphenyls) straightforward and reproducible, and offer assistance on making data easy to export into Ecology’s Environmental Information Management (EIM) database. Our in-house experience with EQuIS allows us to help clients tell their project’s story clearly.

    Having someone like Lea at the helm of a program like EQuIS allows us to efficiently collect, manage, and report on data, ensuring that the rest of our team can focus on what they’re best at: science and strategic advice for our clients.

    GIS Day Roundup

    Aspect commemorated GIS Day, a part of Geography Awareness Week, with a spirited celebration featuring maps, trivia, and cake. 

    The festivities kicked off with a presentation by Senior Data Scientist Parker Wittman, highlighting some of the GIS team’s work over the last year. They have developed innovations using Fulcrum in concert with Google Earth, EQuIS, and other software to make field testing, sampling, and reporting much more efficient. Citing specific work Aspect has done for the Port of Seattle at SeaTac Airport, Parker demonstrated how the systems we’ve created are helping the Port assess the potential impacts proposed construction/redevelopment would have on the existing stormwater infrastructure and keep the existing mass of ever-updating data organized and easily accessible. Our team is strategically employing automated tools where it can save projects time and money.

    Later in the day, we cut the cake as the GIS team set out to stump the rest of us with several rounds of GIS / geography-related trivia questions. 

    Of course, a GIS Day celebration would not be complete without an informative map. The GIS team polled staffers on all the places they’ve lived throughout their lives. Using the analytical software Tableau, they created this lovely lattice crisscrossing the world. 

    Field Data Collection Goes Mobile

    It’s already difficult to imagine doing it any other way.

    At Aspect, we collect data. Lots and lots of data. We collect notes, measurements, GPS coordinates, photos, field observations, asset inventories, and on and on. All of the information we collect is almost always tied to some sort of spot on the earth: a well, a catch basin, a stream gage, a geotechnical boring. All the projects and people and paper and files and handwriting – it’s a lot to manage. Doing things the “old-fashioned way” means compiling and collating paper forms, JPEGs, and data files. It means entering notes from the field into a computer back in the office. It means playing a game of “telephone” with our data. It means time (and money!) for our clients.

    Enter: Fulcrum.

    We’ve installed Fulcrum software on mobile phones and a stable of tablets to help manage, organize, and execute our large, complex sampling and field data collection efforts. It enables us to create interactive, spatially-aware forms that help expedite projects and contribute to accurate, clean, and professional work-products. We’re ensuring that the data we collect is consistent and that photos, coordinates, and information we gather stays connected. As simple as that sounds, it means incredible gains for our projects and measurable benefits for our clients.

    Here are a few of the features that we love:

    • At the click of a button, in real-time, field data can be downloaded in the office – enabling office staff to develop maps and analyze data as it is being collected.
    • Data can be downloaded in many file formats to support the specific needs of an individual project (Excel, CSV, GIS Shapefiles, Google Earth KML, etc.).
    • Data requirements and dropdown menus can be established for any or all fields on the form – ensuring consistent, site-specific information is collected.
    • Forms can be built to evolve as data is entered – improving the usability for field staff.
    • Data can be checked and validated on-the-fly – giving field teams real-time feedback and guidance on the collected data.
    • Calculations are built-in and automatic – which saves time and prevents calculation error.
    • Photos, videos, and audio can be collected as a part of each form – intrinsically linking those files with the locations which they document.
    • Locations and any known data can be pre-loaded to the forms – which means field staff can figure out where they need to go and what they need to know in one place.

    With Fulcrum, since mobile field data collection is finally flexible and feature-rich, easy to deploy, and easy to use, we’re recommending it for use in many of our new and existing projects.

    See how it looks in the gallery below.