The mission of the Center for Geospatial Data Analysis is to provide scientifically-based decision-support systems to a wide variety of technical and non-technical users, in order to promote the environmentally sound use of land, water, and mineral resources.
This mission is accomplished by employing state-of-the-art technology in geographic information systems (GIS), statistical and numerical analysis, and field instrumentation to develop and (or) apply: GIS database applications to resource evaluation and environmental issues; statistical and numerical modeling - particularly pertaining to issues of ground- and surface-water hydrology; real-time monitoring of hydrological conditions; non-traditional training via internships and apprenticeships.
Personnel of the CGDA are currently working with regulators and scientists from federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey USGS and the U.S. EPA. A variety of cooperative efforts are also underway with state agencies and local water-user groups. These include the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Reclamation (IDOR), the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), as well as local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and watershed planning groups.
User-friendly applications are needed for a wide range of environmental and resource assessments, such as prospecting for low-sulfur coal, restoration of wetlands, evaluating aquifer sensitivities and vulnerabilities, and so on. Solution of such difficult problems requires integration of theoretically based numerical and statistical models, complex multi-parameter databases, geographic information system (GIS) layers, and visualization tools.
In order to make the power of these technologies accessible to the widest possible range of users, a great variety of existing software packages that are not usually compatible (e.g., numerical hydrologic simulation applications, GIS packages, 3-D visualization software, etc.) must be integrated. Specially talented and broadly trained individuals are required to work effectively in such a complex computer programming/computational setting.
Examples of the software used by personnel of the CGDA to take GIS-based projects from inception to final product include GIS packages (ESRI ArcGIS: Spatial Analyst, 3-D Analyst, Geostatistical Analyst, and Hydrology Tools, ArcIMS, and ArcGIS Server; ERDAS Imagine), graphics and visualization packages (C Tech EVS and MVS software, ESRI ArcScene, ParaView, MatLab, Adobe Illustrator), and spreadsheet and database software. Programming knowledge utilized includes Matlab, Fortran, Visual Basic, C++, HTML, and Java.