Drones and Geographic Information Systems

In government we aim to drive down costs, reduce our action times and support decision making and policy decisions that improve the overall quality of life for Utah residents. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are typically thought of as data plus analytics equals data driven decisions. The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining uses GIS to extend that equation where data plus analytics plus data driven decisions equals improved service delivery to both the public and to industry. In using GIS we are able to take limited resources and very easily and strategically fix problems where and when they occur, which extends our limited resources and improves our efficiencies. 

When Division staff didn’t have the capability to fly drones for data acquisition, they were limited to conducting their work using traditional methods. They would use pen, pad, and cameras to collect data and then come back to the office to manually enter it into a computer database. Staff has now begun using Esri GIS software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications on mobile devices to minimize time and errors.

By implementing database standardization and drone technology, staff are now generating data sets that can be archived and used to accurately document existing conditions for oil, gas, and mining activities. This data has reduced disputes and provided data that could be used for litigation matters.

Web based applications help regulate, innovate, and educate our staff and the public so they can stay updated and informed with natural resource activities in Utah. Staff are focused on centralizing data and publishing it to ArcGIS Online, allowing them to spend more time ensuring responsible development of natural resources and environmental protection. The public can be more confident that tax payer dollars are being used responsibly and consistently.

We are building geodatabases for each of our programs- Coal, Minerals, Oil and Gas, and Abandoned Mine Reclamation. We are working with our existing databases to produce web maps, applications, and hosted feature layers. By utilizing these types of databases we are hoping to aggregate, integrate and standardize our geospatial data across the division. We are also leveraging drones and remote sensing to provide much needed insight and documentation to ensure compliance rules are being met and best management practices are being applied to our lands in Utah. The derived drone data will be published to ArcGIS Online for the inspectors to view and make better land management decisions.

Senior GIS Analyst Tom Thompson and Director John Baza were presented with the prestigious SAG award, presented at the annual ESRI conference in San Diego this month. This award is given to .01 of 1% of ESRI users. The award was given for Tom’s presentation Inquiring Mines want to know: Leveraging Location Intelligence for Mine Inspection, incollaboration with Engineering Technician Michael Van Hatten, Associate Director Dana Dean, and Division Director John Baza.

Photo L to R: Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Senior GIS Analyst Tom Thompson, Esri Founder and CEO Jack Dangermond, Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Director John Baza