NextGen GIS and the Environmental Database


Courtesy of EarthSoft, Inc

Next Generation (NextGen) Geospatial Information System (GIS) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Cold War legacy sites environmental records—spanning nearly 40 years—in the Environmental Database, are managed by the DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM). As key LM assets, these records must be managed and maintained efficiently and effectively. There are over 16 different applications that support the databases containing environmental and geospatial information. Current applications, respective systems, and processes require significant upgrades to effectively operate in the future.

A multi-disciplined LM team collaborated to develop functional requirements and design a NextGen GIS solution. NextGen GIS (also referred to as GEMS 2) replaced the legacy Geospatial Environmental Mapping System (GEMS) and its associated databases. The upgraded system has better map functionality, expanded layers, support, upgrades, speed, ease of use, expandability, Internet-based external users, and cross-agency commonality for map sharing, development, and collaboration. Its processes help ensure that LM environmental data are properly preserved and protected while also allowing open and transparent operation between LM and system users; state and federal regulators; local, regional, and national stakeholders; and the public.

NextGen GIS can be accessed through the LM website at under Mapping and Monitoring (GEMS), or directly via

LM has customized its NextGen GIS application to draw validated information from a database of 4.7 million analytical results and 232,000 water-level measurements for 58 long-term surveillance and maintenance (LTS&M) sites. Data were collected from transferred sites over a period of 40 years, and used to capture and store historical environmental information such as analytical chemistry data, groundwater depths and elevations, well logs, well construction data, geo-referenced boundaries, site physical features, and sampling locations from LTS&M sites.

Stakeholders, regulators, and project personnel can use this web-based application and data to display information in several forms, such as interactive tabular reports, graphs, geospatial displays, or with the data labeled or highlighted in map views.

The new system is user-friendly with support for the responsive design (for smaller laptop screens and tablets); versatile for analysis of environmental data, including export to .csv file format (Excel compatible); self-analyzing, access to supporting site logs and inspection photos; and has the ability to overlay external mapping features onto LM-focused site maps. A more advanced version of GEMS was also deployed, providing additional functionality to internal federal staff.

LM released the initial NextGen GIS, version 2.0, in early January 2014; with additional versions 2.1 and 2.3 released in April and August 2014. Future versions of the system will integrate land use (e.g., parcel ownership, mineral rights, covenants), institutional controls (e.g., land restrictions and access agreements), and real and personal property layers.

External customers for NextGen GIS include local, regional, and national stakeholders; regulators; and other government agencies. Public stakeholder groups will be able to view and analyze historic and current site environmental data. In addition to the web application, users can also consume the many LM site mapping services via Esri Representational State Transfer (REST) technology into their own GIS application, similar to how GEMS allows users to overlay U.S. Bureau of Land Management—Public Land Survey System and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Data—National Hydrography Dataset onto the GEMS map.

Throughout the process, LM has built relationships with other government organizations by sharing requirements, design, and system architecture through conferences and one-on-one demonstrations. LM plans to continue using this platform to share environment data and analysis for efficient collaboration of LTS&M information, and to continue interfacing with other government agencies and organizations such as the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and USGS.

Current activities are underway to integrate the NextGen GIS with a new environmental support services, commercial off-the-shelf—or COTS—product named Environmental Quality Information System (EQuIS), developed by Earthsoft, LLC. LM staff conducted a comprehensive requirementscapturing, build-verses-buy, and pilot study leading up to the decision to procure and implement the EQuIS product.

NextGen GIS and the Environmental Database
Implementation is underway with a phased migration of LM sites into the system. The first migration is expected to be completed by March 2015. The final data migration should be completed by July 2015. EQuIS will replace the 16 existing, individual systems and manual processes currently being used by LM, with an all new, integrated process and toolset for more efficient and effective support of LM’s LTS&M mission.

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