Engineering News-Record | Accelerate the Environmental Permitting Process With GIS

Every infrastructure project has a geographic component.  Geographic information systems (GIS) technology has a long history of supporting environmental consultants to visualize, organize and analyze project data, streamlining the regulatory environmental review process and reporting.

Freese and Nichols Inc. (FNI), a national engineering, planning and consulting firm based in Texas, creates major infrastructure. The firm recently assisted a large city in the Southwest with environmental clearance for aviation infrastructure at its spaceport by using GIS. The project, already facing an aggressive schedule, had been stymied by regulatory hurdles. Previous work had yielded an unfavorable preliminary jurisdictional determination, risking additional permitting requirements and a compromised project schedule. FNI determined that GIS could pave the best path forward.

Under the direction of Michael Lane, a professional wetland scientist, the team relied on ArcGIS, Esri’s mapping and analytics software, to visualize and manage data, as well as Ecobot’s environmental assessment platform, to rapidly execute fieldwork and an approved jurisdictional determination (AJD) package. Ecobot Collector supported fieldwork with automated calculations and built-in QA, while Ecobot Manager’s real-time access to results allowed for frictionless QA/QC and immediate report generation. Geospatial data collected in the field through Ecobot’s integration with ArcGIS Online was leveraged into exhibits for the AJD request.

“Their urgency became our emergency,” Lane says. “Ecobot enabled us to translate field data into regulatory forms with a swift turnaround, and ArcGIS Online integration addressed our GIS needs seamlessly. These tools were critical to FNI’s expediency.”

The power of these tools supporting Lane’s team accelerated the AJD process, which was immediately adopted by the Federal Aviation Association to close up the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) action and release the project to proceed. With the regulatory roadblocks cleared by FNI’s use of GIS tools, the spaceport was one step closer to launch.

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Our award-winning platform is built on the expertise of our scientific advisors, customers and teammates. With amazing customer service and engineers dedicated to building reliable, intuitive software, Ecobot is at the forefront of innovation.

Ecobot is a cloud-based platform that optimizes data collection and management for environmental permits, supporting efficiency and accuracy during fieldwork and post-processing. Ecobot helps customers deliver data consistency across a distributed workforce and enables them to utilize data in a variety of contexts. Ecobot is used by customers at the top AEC (architectural, engineering construction) and natural resources consulting firms; by numerous counties, state and federal departments of transportation (DOT); the mitigation banking industry; and utility, energy, and oil and gas companies.

Ecobot Collector, the mobile app component of the platform, is available for iOS via the Apple App Store, and for Android devices on the Google Play Store. Ecobot is an Esri Partner.
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