Accessible Information

by William J. Douglas, P.E., Senior Manager; Electronic Data Systems, EH&S, Plano, TX,
Izak Maitin, Senior Project Scientist; ERM Program Management Co., Exton, PA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 6, Pg. 59-61

Document Type: Feature article


As the amount of data relating to U.S. environmental policy grows, geographic information systems and advanced visualization system technology are being applied extensively to site investigations and manage both remediation and regulatory compliance data. Prior to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, there were only two relevant federal laws relating to environmental, safety and health issues for U.S. industry. By 1990 there were 23 such laws. In the last 25 years, the documents pertaining to E,S,H regulation have swollen from 5,000 pages to almost 90,000. The possiblities for exploring a site through data depend on the limitations imposed by both the systems and the quality of the spatial and nonspatial data. Careful planning, coordination and data-quality checks will ensure that the systems are compatible, that the data is unique and that any piece of data is viewed accurately in a spatial context. In combination, a powerful new system emerges, capable of comprehensively reviewing, analyzing and comparing hundreds of different scenarios to integrate the site as a whole, and provide the investigation team with a solid understanding of site conditions.

Subject Headings: Spatial data | Site investigation | Information management | Geographic information systems | Laws and regulations | Information systems | Federal government

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