Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Aug 15, 2009
Project End Date
Dec 31, 2010
Grant Year
Project Director
Day, R. L.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Crop & Soil Sciences
Non Technical Summary
Emerging issues such as the economic downturn, global climate change and alternative energy development target rural communities. Geospatial technologies provide powerful capabilities to assist rural communities in addressing these issues but often use and expertise is lacking due to resource limitations. The National Consortium for Rural Geospatial Innovations in America (RGIS) seeks to provide research, tools and education to rural communities in uses of geospatial technologies for a variety of applications. Geospatial technologies provide tools to evaluate impacts of climatic change on issues such as drinking water supplies, drought vulnerability for farmers and more. Increasing energy costs associated with transportation, residential heating and manufacturing also increase pressures on rural communities. Alternative energy development provides significant economic opportunities for rural communities if they are poised to effectively address the economic and environmental issues associated with development of biofuel, wind, solar and natural gas resources. As land is converted from traditional use to use for alternative energy, local communities must have geospatial tools, data, and expertise available to them to insure that environmental impacts are minimized and that the local economy is enhanced. Geospatial information technologies will play a role in the rural economic recovery and migration to alternative energy development. Appropriate development can provide a stimulus to local economies, including investments in sustainable development and conservation intended to mitigate climate change and alternative energy development impacts. Geospatial information can help local communities attract and site new businesses; identify deficiencies in rural infrastructure and guide its development; enhance sustainable land management strategies in resource-dependent areas; evaluate environmental impacts of alternative energy development; and provide "telecommuting" and traditional employment. Geospatial tools also play a critical role in land use planning and disaster planning and mitigation for drought, floods, wildfires, disease outbreaks, other natural disasters, and emergency evacuations. In all these situations, we believe that the benefits of geospatial technologies are best realized when brought closest to those making decisions about the land - local officials, active citizens, interested businesses, public agency staff, and others involved in decision-making. Our research is aimed at determining what technologies and approaches work in various circumstances and for different issues. RGIS has a long-term commitment to stakeholders through involvment in pilot and demonstration projects. RGIS has built a reputation of providing needed and focused direct technical assistance and training programs, and recently, high quality conferences focused particularly on the needs of rural America.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The National Consortium for Rural Geospatial Innovations in America (RGIS) was created to help bring the benefits of geographic information systems and related geospatial information technologies to rural and tribal America. Eight sites across the United States conduct projects and technology transfer activities in their regions to support a common mission. The entire group has several collective activities such as a website, technical bulletin series, software evaluation, and educational modules. Each site contributes unique expertise and the experience from regional activities to the collective accomplishments of the organization. Common objectives of the entire project, carried out by individual sites include: developing and implementing geospatial software, analysis methods, online decision support system, and models to empower local governments, industry, organizations, and citizens to understand and participate in decisions that affect their lands, resources, economy, and quality of life; developing and evaluating tools to enhance rural security by using information technologies to enable more effective emergency response and disaster management, and by stabilizing and building local economies; educating and training people in the use of geospatial technologies for rural issues through workshops and programs, through creation of educational modules, web resources, technical assistance guidelines, printed bulletins, and videos; demonstrating state-of-the-art solutions for local land information systems through implementation of GIS and related web-based technologies for information access and dissemination to support the use of spatial data in rural issues; and fostering linkage to regional, state, tribal, and national land information systems and cooperation with agencies and organizations involved in their development and use, including promoting the use of federal initiatives such as NSDI and related components. In 2009, each RGIS site will conduct research in one or more priority areas: (1) rural response to climate change, (2) impacts and opportunities of alternative energy development, and (3) enhancing sustainable economic development in rural communities. Further, each site will (1) conduct local geospatial research on topics of interest to their particular state or region, (2) provide local support and services: training, technical assistance, facilitation and so forth for local and tribal governments; (3) conduct collaborative research where multiple RGIS sites participate in common objectives, and (4) participate in the RGIS Consortium. RGIS, through the individual and collective actions of its eight sites, will continue to be effective in assisting rural stakeholders deal with land-related issues through implementation and use of advanced geospatial information technologies.
Project Methods
RGIS Chesapeake-Wilkes recognizes the critical role of spatial data/GIS and explores how to make it work, how to collaborate, how to leverage resources and how to maximize ROI. RGIS supports research, outreach, coordination, and education in the use of geospatial technologies in the Susquehanna environmental master planning process and to local governments in the deployment of enterprise wide GIS. RGIS-Chesapeake-Penn State provides outreach, conducts research, and develops geospatial decision-support tools for agriculture and environmental assessment. They are developing a Pennsylvania conservation/nutrient planning system, developing an agricultural drought vulnerability assessment system, and assessing LiDAR for vegetation mapping. RGIS Great Lakes continues development and dissemination of spatial information technologies that can assist Wisconsin's transition to a "bioeconomy." Major activities are: developing geospatial tools and analysis methods for biofuel supply-chain logistics; developing guidelines for sustainable production of biofuels on marginal lands; conducting landscape-scale analysis for optimization of production levels; and evaluating of biomass policy alternatives. RGIS Mid-South will leverage emerging academic research to provide new tools for rural governments and communities to acquire and process critical geospatial in support of planning/development, emergency response and security, and facilities management. The Mid-South office will also develop a suite of geospatial educational modules, web-based resources and technical videos geared specifically towards the needs of local government GIS technicians and practitioners. RGIS-South Georgia develops and provides geospatial technology opportunities to rural local governments and transfers these experiences, methods and technologies to other communities across our nation. These opportunities will be focused upon technologies enabling data capture in the wake of disasters and in support of environmental decision-making. RGIS-SG will deliver technical support to rural local governments seeking to develop and implement geospatial technologies. RGIS-Great Plains conducts local research, contributes to the RGIS inter-site research topic, conducts technology transfer and educational outreach, and carries out research that is applicable to the region. RGIS-Pacific Northwest provides geospatial solutions to problems facing rural managers, including visual sensitivity assessment for renewable energy facility development, analysis of rural supply and distribution chains related to freight transportation networks, development of a public participation GIS for mapping natural capital and ecosystem services, and use of geospatial techniques to aid rapid field assessment, monitoring, and aesthetic evaluation of lake shorelines. RGIS-Tribal Technical Center provides technology transfer through the use of short courses, distance education, and community-based demonstration projects in conjunction with the development of relevant geospatial applications focused on Tribal issues at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) campus for use on Indian reservation lands.

Progress 08/15/09 to 12/31/10

OUTPUTS: Chesapeake - Wilkes University deployed the Federated GIS project to Northeast and South Central counties, conducted data mining on baseline water quality parameters on the Susquehanna River related to Marcellus Shale energy development, developed selection criteria for evaluation of the geologic potential for CO2 sequestration in the Anthracite Fields of northeastern PA. Chesapeake - Penn State University developed PaOneStop, a web application that allows farmers to create maps necessary to meet regulatory requirements for manure transfers, initiated development of an online conservation and nutrient management planning module, designed a method to assess field-scale drought vulnerability for Pa, evaluated LiDAR data for riparian buffer assessment, expanded an educational program called FARMSAFE where FFA students develop Farm Emergency Response Maps. Great Lakes developed geospatial tools for logistics issues related to providing biofuels for a large heat and power plant, developed guidelines for sustainable production of bioenergy crops on marginal lands, conducted landscape analyses to determine land use and infrastructure allocations for comprehensive planning, and provided land use planning support to WI. Mid South provided on-line tools to aid in the processing of high-resolution imagery, developed and/utilized visualization tools for economic development planning, supported first responders through research in disaster mitigation planning, support and emergency response, provided geospatial support and services to Arkansas user communities, and provided decision support within State Government related to The Arkansas Biodiesel Project. South Georgia developed an On-site Waste Disposal Mapping System to capture of septic system installations in GA, provided geospatial leadership, technical support, and training to the GA Regional Commissions and rural governments, and explored the use of digital video for disaster damage assessments Great Plains build a blowing snow susceptibility research dataset in collaboration with the ND Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and the Surface Transportation Weather Research Center (STWRC), provided education and outreach through seminars on GIS and environmental modeling, assisted with water quality data collection along the Turtle River in eastern ND, and conducted video mapping of riparian zone vegetation. Pacific Northwest created a visual sensitivity model that incorporates trees and buildings, created methods for analyzing information about freight shipments within WA, developed a web-based participatory geographic information system (PGIS) for mapping natural capital and ecosystem services, and applied a web-based video mapping system for assessing aesthetic and ecological conditions of lakeshores. Tribal Technical Center continued it's outreach to local tribes through educational programs at the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), helped to maintain and support the Geospatial Technologies lab on the SIPI campus, and worked with other Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) with the goal of assisting them in their geospatial curriculum and program development. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals: Rick Day, Robert Neiderer, Yuanghong Zhu, Leah Wasser, Valerie Mebane. Partner organizations: Penn State Cooperative Extension, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts. Training: Penn State Geospatial Technology Program provided training for approximately 20 1-2day short courses. Partner Collaborators from RGIS: Wilkes-University, Pa GIS Consortium, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Central Washington University, Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute, University of North Dakota, South Georgia Commission. TARGET AUDIENCES: Training and outreach efforts are targeted to geospatial technology users throughout the U.S., including tribes and tribal members, in all disciplines including agriculture, environment, climate, economics, rural development, and emergency response. In Pennsylvania, web applications for agriculture are aimed at the 60,000 farms that need conservation and nutrient management plans and the entire agricultural industry that can be assisted by online marketing support. Each of the other seven RGIS sites has similar local and state-level constituencies. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Detailed documentation of individual impacts for each of the 8 RGIS sites is not possible here, so much of this discussion will be focused on collective impact. Firstly, RGIS sites collectively leveraged nearly $4.5M of funding from other sources to support objectives funded by USDA-NIFA as part of this special project. RGIS sites engaged in educational outreach, training, and technical support that benefited geospatial technology users and local governments throughout the country, including tribal communities. Sites engaged in modeling, website development, online geospatial application development or analyses that provided valuable information and analytical tools for a variety of applications spanning multiple disciplines including land use planning, agriculture, environment, ecology, climatology, emergency management, and economics. Additionally, the scale of applications ranges from single agricultural fields, to counties, states and the nation. In Pennsylvania, the PaOneStop System provides allows farmers to plan fields and farms whereas bioenergy research in Wisconsin provides analytical tools for for the entire state. In Pennsylvania, 40,000 farmers do not have current Conservation Plans and over 50,000 manure transfers occur each year. Bioenergy work in Wisconsin dealing with potential aggregation sites for the Charter Street Heat and Power Plant was used to guide a request for information by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to find out about bioenergy sources. Tribal Technical Center work is empowering tribes and in the use of geospatial technologies for managing their own lands as well as educating members for success in the workforce. Collaboration with tribes is expanding and the number of students is increasing. Work at the PaGIS Consortium and Wilkes University is coordinating geospatial data sharing among many county governments in an efficient and safe manner. As a result of their work, the executive boards of the Northeast and South Central groups approved deployment funding and have embarked on deployment in a self-sufficient mode. Climatic modeling in ND is providing tools that benefit average citizens traversing highways in poor weather conditions. Mapping of septic systems in Georgia is producing a database that is the first of it's kind in the region and their service to counties results in savings estimated at $200,000 per year. Ecology research in Washington State is providing tools to assess ecologic and aesthetic impacts of landscapes in a way that engages citizens. In Arkansas, over the past eleven years, outreach and technical support has benefited well over 3,450 private citizens and many federal, state and local governments located roughly within a day's drive of Fayetteville, Arkansas. RGIS-GP has formed a relationship with a local hydrologic and environmental monitoring program called River Watch, a basin-wide citizen water quality monitoring program organized and delivered by the International Water Institute and its partners through high schools and communities (


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