April Update

See what work the Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL) supported in the busy month of April

1. Class Support

2. Student Support
3. Campus Connections
4. Outreach


1. Class Support:

  • Environmental Integration II: Collecting and Analyzing Information (ENV201/202): Final Presentations:
    • One of the five student groups in 201/202 decided to focus their final project on looking at the Mill River watershed, the watershed that Smith is in, using the ArcSWAT (soil and water assessment tool) toolbar in ArcMap. We helped introduce the students to the ArcSWAT toolbar and discuss what watershed area would be best to map using which layers. We also supported the group’s efforts by helping to troubleshoot issues like exchanging built in weather data for locally collected precipitation statistics — we were unsuccessful in this despite the many attempts.
    • Jon, the Director of the SAL, and Victoria, the Post-bac Fellow joined the final presentations for this class along with some members of CEEDS. The student groups were all very impressive in their presentations on the following issues addressing efforts towards increasing campus resiliency:
      • Resurfacing a campus parking lot with permeable material
      • Comparing the energy use of a house with a vegetarian/vegan dining hall (Gillett) and a traditional dining hall (Chapin)
      • Proposing the installation of organic lawns on campus
      • Surveying students to assess correlations between individual environmental awareness/practices and demographic background
      • Using ArcSWAT to map the Mill River watershed, then analyzing and mapping the simulation results
  • GPS Workshops:
    • The SAL hosted two GPS workshops to cater to students who will need these skills for summer work as well as to those interested for other reasons:
      • GPS I Workshop: the group learned to use the mapping-grade Trimble Juno units to collect data outside — this time we mapped the bike racks around campus — view one page instructional here
      • GPS II Workshop: the group used Fulcrum’s online platform and mobile app to collect data around campus of chalkings using a mobile device or tablet. This workshop was the first of this academic year to use mobile mapping, and was especially exciting for us in the SAL as well as for the participants because of how easy to use the application proved to be! View our one page instructional sheet here
Fulcrum App on an iPhone -- Map View

Fulcrum App on an iPhone — Map View

Attributes of a single feature

Attributes of a single feature
















2. Student Support:

  • Student final project support:
    We supported a number of students who used GIS as a part of their final projects in a variety of ways in a variety of classes:

    • One of the graduating seniors working throughout the year with Geoscience faculty wrapped up her work in the SAL focused around creating a baseline survey of well-water quality near proposed hydraulic fracking sites in northeastern PA
    • A group of ENV senior students worked briefly with the SAL to develop a map to complement their proposed expanded compost route for Smith. The map was created in ArcGIS Online, using the built-in Network Analysis tools to create the most efficient route for compost pick-up to travel around Northampton
    • We are in the process of wrapping up our work with Jessie Blum, the senior student working with the Botanic Gardens and the SAL to map invasive species around Paradise Pond. Her most recent endeavor has been to clean-up our invasives database that contains four years of GPS data from summer interns. Jessie is developing a standard for meta-data population that will be applied to the previous year’s data and will be used in future iterations of this project! Jessie will be off to central Mass this summer interning at a botanic garden, but we expect to see her around the SAL and Smith Botanic Garden as she helps us develop a new invasive species mitigation plan.
    • A senior ENV student worked in the SAL throughout April on a GIS project to help her propose a new purpose for a building in Holyoke that has been vacant since it underwent fire damage a few years ago. She used the GIS to contextualize the area around the building with layers like vacant lots, lots being developed by Holyoke, zoning regulations, and median household income
  • Student Summer research prep:
    • We’ve worked quite a bit this month to help students become more familiar with ArcGIS Online for their work with NOAA this summer including the use of Esri Story Maps
    • We have also helped students prepare for summer research by training them on our Trimble Juno units and renting out said units, some of these summer research projects include:
      • Mapping reef formations in the Mojave Desert
      • Using the GPS to navigate to previous research points in Newfoundland
      • Mapping ponds in Missouri for soil sample collection and coring


3. Campus Connections:

  • Smart Campus:
    Our Smart Campus working group has continued to meet throughout April to work on various mapping projects in the SAL, see the group minutes here


4. Outreach:

  • Mill River Virtual Walking Tour:
    As part of an Earth week (month) celebration the Mill River Greenway Initiative has teamed with the Spatial Analysis Lab to create a virtual walking tour of the Historic Mill River. The tour starts at the President’s House on Smith’s Campus and travels south down along the current Mill River, down to where the diversion of 1940 occurred. The tour then heads East along the historic Mill River, which ran next to today’s bike path. The image below shows the prototype of the map, which will eventually be an interactive story map for viewers to follow; check in for updates.

  • Nepal Earthquake Response Mapping Workshop:
    In response to the recent earthquakes in Nepal, the Spatial Analysis Lab organized a workshop for students, faculty, staff, and other Smith community members to contribute to the OpenStreetMap humanitarian mapping effort. We wanted to provide people with a space and time to dedicate their attention to supporting the relief efforts in Nepal, even during the busy week before finals. The workshop brought 26 people to the SAL where Jon and Victoria gave a short presentation on the basics of using the online mapping platform, and spent the rest of the time troubleshooting with participants. See our post on the workshop for more details. We will host a second workshop this Wednesday (5/6) from 12pm-1pm to accommodate those who couldn’t attend last week and to continue to support the effort — see the post here
  • Update to Jobs Page:
    We spent some time this month assembling an up-to-date jobs page! This page is catered towards all students by listing both summer internship opportunities as well as more extended opportunities for graduating seniors. Check out the new jobs page and look to our home page to access the jobs page again in the future. Job postings will be updated every Wednesday, if not more frequently.