Title

GIS as a Decision Support System for the Evaluation of Environmental Documents: Case Study: Environmental Quality Board of Puerto Rico

Publication Date

12-2003

Committee Chair

Kelly Chan, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Thad Tilton, M.S.
Steve Kopp, M.S.

Abstract

The task of the environmental documents evaluation process is to assess their correctness and completeness based on the requirements of the law. The actual evaluation method used by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) of Puerto Rico shows some limitations. Currently the Board is using a manual method to evaluate the geographic component of documents. This manual technique makes it difficult to identify the project location, to visualize different factors affecting the project area, or to search the data needed to conduct the evaluation process. Access to geographical information is another major problem faced by this Board. Therefore, there is a need to integrate automated techniques that would help facilitate the assessment process and augment its procedures.

GIS offers a wide range of tools that can be used in the environmental documents evaluation process to solve the problems of sharing, collecting, accessing, and integrating geospatial information. The power of geographic visualization and the support information accompanying the graphics makes GIS a viable solution for the evaluation of the environmental documents.

The main objective of this project is to design a GIS application to support the decision making process concerning the evaluation of environmental documents. Its goal is aimed at the development of a geodatabase that will facilitate the access to geospatial information and a GIS system to support the decision making process through its automation.

All the necessary information to assess the documents is gathered and loaded in a geodatabase. An easy to use GIS interface was created by the customization of ArcGIS 8.3 using ArcObjects in VBA and VB 6.0. New functionalities specifically for the environmental process in the EQB of Puerto Rico were successfully integrated to the standard GIS software.

The environmental document correctness will be assessed using the newly developed GIS methodology and it completeness will be reviewed by a checklist added as part of the interface. This new automated process is a faster and more accurate way to make decisions.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands

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