Tag Archives: GIS

GIS Day: Celebrating the “Mappiest Day of the Year”

By Sarah J. Pierce, Environmental Scientist/GIS Specialist for Pare Corporation

GIS Day was organized by Esri, a leading company in the field of mapping technologies, and has been celebrated since 1999, after consumer advocate Ralph Nader suggested dedicating a day to show how geographic intelligence touches everyone. According to Esri, “a Geographic Information System (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends.” GIS Day celebrates these capabilities and allows users to showcase their unique GIS accomplishments. This year, Pare celebrated the “Mappiest Day of the Year” on November 15 by looking at how we are using this technology in our engineering projects.

GIS can use a variety of sources including GPS data, open source data layers, and CAD-compatible shapefiles to display a variety of data in a visually appealing way. This capability is especially important in providing a meaningful deliverable to a client. Maps and figures typically include aerial photographs of a site as the base map, which is then layered with other data such as wetland locations or other constraints in order to better understand the geographic restrictions of a project. The attributes of the geographically referenced information can be resourcefully stored, analyzed, evaluated, manipulated and displayed.

Pare’s GIS committee manages and uses data to create visualizations of project information so that it can be more easily shared and analyzed.  It gives our engineers the tools needed to complete buildout projections, locus mapping, dam-breach modeling, water system modeling, site constraint analysis, and infrastructure asset management.

As part of our “Mappy Day” celebration, the GIS committee celebrated four recent projects that used GIS to better help the client.

Narragansett Bay Commission CSO Phase III Program

Pare created a GIS database containing shapefiles of select portions of the existing Narragansett Bay Commission Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system within the cities of Central Falls and Pawtucket. This database was generated using scanned copies of the city’s original printed drawings dating back to the mid-1800s.  The digital format was then imported into a hydraulic model using record plans of the existing CSO system and aerial photograph interpretation.  Georeferencing these plans allowed Pare to view the locations of the CSO system in relation to the current layout of the cities and understand flow directions and connectivity within the sewersheds. In addition, Pare used GIS to create visual representations of the proposed project elements of the Phase III CSO Program. These visuals were incorporated into the Environmental Assessment for the project and proved to be valuable in understanding the geographic implications of project elements.

Cumberland MS4 Inventory

The Town of Cumberland, RI contracted with Pare to help bring its municipal separate storm sewer (MS4) system into compliance with the Rhode Island Pollutant and Discharge Elimination System’s reporting regulations.  For this, the Town is required to provide a GIS map of all outfalls, receiving waters, drainage systems, and the contributing areas to the MS4 outfalls.  Pare used existing as-builts and visual observations to compile a geodatabase of all structures and then located all outfalls in the town using GPS equipment. Each outfall includes relevant information including pipe size, material, condition, and even has a photo attached to it within the map.  The Town will be able to maintain this map and add features to it as stormwater elements are built and connected to the existing drainage system.

Upper and Lower Sandra Pond Dam Inundation Mapping

Pare uses advanced two-dimensional modeling software to develop dam failure inundation maps. To aid in emergency management planning, the inundation shape files from the model are used to generate up-to-date emergency contact lists for downstream residents, roadway impacts, and potential evacuation routes. The use of GIS software has been invaluable in providing more efficient emergency management techniques and can even be used in real time to monitor a variety of different dam failure scenarios developing on the ground.

Rhode Island Veterans Home

Rhode Island Veteran’s Home in Bristol, RI

Permits from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and/or the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) can have a significant impact on a project’s design and schedule. To determine which permits were required for the construction of the recently built RI Veterans Home, Pare examined existing aerial photography and GPS-located wetlands. The data was incorporated into a figure to depict the closest wetland resources to the project’s limits of disturbance. These constraint analyses are provided early in the design process to prevent the need for costly design revisions resulting from discovering site constraints in later stages of design.


Our GIS Day celebration ended with a “brain mapping” opportunity to explore how GIS could be used in current or future projects at Pare. To see how we are applying this technology to our own work, please visit the online GIS map of representative projects we’re proud to showcase on our website here. We will be sharing more information about our GIS projects in the months to come at http://www.parecorp.com/Services/GIS

I Thought GIS Was the Newest Primetime Crime TV Show!

By Kailyn Corrigan, Marketing Coordinator at Pare

As a non-engineer/scientist, there is a lot of unfamiliar language I’ve come across since my introduction to the A/E/C industry in May 2014. For example, there is an entire division at Pare Corporation dedicated to geotechnical engineering – a term I’d never heard before I visited the company website. In order to be a successful marketing contributor, I try to notice which words come across my desk or within office earshot most often, and I ask a lot of questions. In 2015, I began to notice the term “GIS” more and more often, and so I realized it was time for me to investigate what GIS means and why its mention is on the rise.

In December 2014, Pare hired Sarah Pierce, a recent graduate of Westfield State, to join our Environmental Science group. In June of this year, Sarah was promoted to a full-time GIS Specialist and Environmental Scientist, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind giving me a quick tutorial—a “GIS for Dummies,” if you will.

Wikipedia weighs in

Before meeting with Sarah, I made sure to check what GIS stood for, seeing as that was my first question, and nowadays one is expected to “Wikipedia” the basics. I learned GIS stands for “Geographic Information System.” Well that was a relief! At least I was familiar with the three words that comprise the acronym. I’m not always so lucky. I perused the resources Sarah provided me before the interview to develop a basic understanding, and I noticed that GIS is not exclusive to the A/E/C industry. Excited to share something in common with GIS already, I prepared my questions.p3p2-lg

I sat with Sarah, and asked for the less technical explanation of how GIS is used in our industry. Sarah explained that “GIS allows you to view data as a geographic representation.” For example, before GIS, location and project data was entered and viewed in list form, using software such as Microsoft Excel, and then data was applied to a map in a two-part process. GIS has made it a one-step process, which Sarah credited as one of GIS’s biggest benefits, “GIS has cut fieldwork time in half.”

A Growing Technology


Now that I understood a little bit more about what GIS actually accomplishes, I was interested in learning why it is a growing technology. According to my Googling, GIS has been around since the 1960’s. GIS consists of an electronic display map, where the information you upload is associated with the corresponding geographic coordinates. When I asked how the growth spurt in GIS usage started, Sarah showed me the computer tablet she uses. While GIS has always been a helpful tool, prior to the development of portable computer tablets, GIS was restricted to desktop computers…which obviously aren’t as compatible with working in the field. The tablet has enabled engineers and scientists to enter and review data, whether they are in the office or knee deep in swamp land. Software companies like Esri have increased the mobility of GIS and the reasons for using it through tablet apps, such as Collector, which syncs information with ArcMap Online, the GIS software used on desktops.

Moving Forward


A Pare project illustrating the visual components of data mapping.

I asked Sarah about Pare’s specific GIS expansion and which projects have benefitted the most from GIS technology. Currently it is used most often in feasibility studies, setback (a term commonly used in floodplain management) maps, and asset management in hydraulic modeling. However, Sarah hopes to utilize even more opportunities, and has developed a plan to do so. Sarah will be holding Lunch & Learns open to all staff. By providing the newest developments in GIS information and resources to staff members, our engineers will find new ways to integrate GIS into their projects. When I asked for an example of an area where GIS isn’t being used but should be, Sarah mentioned that it can be used as an alternative to computer aided drafting (CAD) in some cases. She hopes that Lunch and Learns will spark ideas among staff members and ultimately alleviate the workload of our very busy CAD department.


A Pare project that used GIS to map components of a Town’s water system.

As a recent graduate, Sarah hopes to stay ahead of the ever-evolving GIS technology and remain at the forefront of the field. GIS software is updated on a yearly basis, so this will be no easy feat, but she looks forward to making GIS her professional priority. Since I learned a bit about GIS, Sarah also shared her ideas of how the Marketing department may be able to benefit from data visualization in proposal making and through our web presence. I am looking forward to working together and exercising my newfound understanding of yet another really cool engineering tool. For more information on GIS, its capabilities, and how you can apply it to your work, visit the GIS resource website that one of Sarah’s college professors created.