Delaware Geographic Service Award Nominees for 2012
Delaware Coastal Programs (DNREC)
Delaware GIS Day 2011 Committee
McCrone, Inc. - Engineers, Surveyors, Planners
Dr. Peter Rees
Cast your vote here. Voting ends March 30, 2012!
Delaware Coastal Programs (DNREC)
Delaware Coastal Programs (DCP) is a part of Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). The central mission of DCP is “to preserve, protect, develop and enhance the resources of our state’s coastal zone through effective administration of the Delaware Coastal Management Program and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.” DCP has been a leader and actively involved in the Delaware GIS community for many years. Highlights of their activity include the following:
- First attempts usually are not successful and the first round of GIS for Delaware Coastal
Programs was no different. In 1992, a complex water quality project linking a stormwater
model to GIS was bit more than the program could handle. By the time the project was
completed, 3 years later, mainstream GIS was available on PCs and a commercial
version of the GIS-stormwater model was available. The value that came out of that first
effort was recognizing the powerful tool that GIS would become.
- Delaware Coastal Programs stepped into a leadership role in GIS during the fall of 1997
with the “Public GIS Data Release Project” unveiled at Coast Day. 1,000 cd-roms were
distributed with all of the GIS data *and* metadata in DNRECs holding. This effort was
recognized in 1998 with an ESRI Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award.
- For their work with Local Governments (Kent County Planning Dept. – COMPAS Project)
and Mapping natural resources (Mapping Ulva in the Inland Bays), DCP has been
featured in 2 ESRI feature publications: Managing Natural Resources with GIS and
Undersea with GIS.
- DCP is the lead state agency in developing the Delaware Sea Level Rise Adaptation
Plan. Through this initiative, DCP developed and made available an inventory of GIS
data for use in assessing vulnerability to Sea Level Rise.
- DCP has developed tidal flood inundation maps for the state, using watershed GIS data,
aerial imagery and mean higher high water (MHHW) marks along the coast. This was
done for different sea level rise scenarios. DCP shared their GIS methods and
distributes the results as PDF, KML and an online internet map viewer.
- High resolution lidar was flown for Sussex in 2005 and New Castle and Kent in 2007.
DCP collected the mass point data for these datasets, worked with the NOAA Coastal
Services Center (CSC) to reprocess the data into statewide, seamless digital elevation
models (DEMs) at 2- and 3-meter resolutions, and redistributed this to the public and
other state agencies.
- Through their involvement in Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO),
which encompasses DE, NJ, NY, MD and VA, DCP is coordinating the collection,
distribution and display of the latest high resolution lidar, critical infrastructure and
coastal habitat GIS data for each coastal county in the 5-state region.
- DCP is currently working with the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), as well as
communicating with other state agencies (DGS), on a plan to enhance the network that
support the horizontal and vertical datums we currently use.
- DCP coordinated and hosted an Elevation Data User workshop to improve
communication among the various lidar/DEM user groups in Delaware.
- Worked with researchers at UD and Delaware State University on an imaging project to
identify and map the benthic habitat and sub-bottom sediments of Delaware Bay and
- Staff from DCP routinely present at regional, national and international conferences such
as Delaware GIS, Coastal Zone, Coastal GeoTools, Delaware Wetlands, Delaware
Estuary Science and Environmental Summit, and the ESRI International Users
- DCP staff have active roles in user groups, technical, and sub-committees, such as the
DGDC and Executive Council and the Elevation Data Users Group.
Delaware GIS Day 2011 Committee
Megan Nehrbas (Committee Chairwoman), Darin Dell, Nicole Minni, Michael Hanna, Miriam Pomilio, Danielle Lamborn (Committee Co-Chair)
Since November of 2008 Megan Nehrbas has lead the GIS Day planning committee, a subcommittee of
the DGDC, in the organization of Delaware’s participation in the GIS Day event. GIS Day is an
international event held on the Wednesday of National Geography Awareness Week. GIS Day started in
1987, as part of the National Geographic’s Geography Week, as a way to expose society to the tools and
opportunities of GIS.
- The Delaware GIS Day event is held every November at the Air Mobility Command Museum in
Dover, Delaware, and is designed to support Delaware curriculum requirements for fifth-grade
students who are learning about geography, cartography and the world around us.
- The GIS Day Committee consists of six committee members who organize over 40 volunteers
including station chiefs, tour guides and other miscellaneous helpers to help navigate over 300
students around each activity on the day of the event. They also solicited donations from
companies who use GIS in their workplace to help fund the event. Since 2008 some of the
activities that the students have experienced included but not limited to:
- GIS Scavenger Hunt
- Delasoft Billboard and RoadView
- Compass vs GPS
- Discovery map of a local community by the Delaware Geographic Alliance
- City of Dover - Emergency Services
- Air Mobility Command Museum Tour
- Mobile Command Unit
- Flight simulation - which uses digital
mapping to teach new pilots
- Entering into the world itself, a 20-
foot diameter Earth Balloon to learn
something special about each
- Map Jeopardy
- A hands on chance to use GIS to
discover which mystery animal was
going to be placed in a zoo
o how GIS has been used to track
shore bird migration
- The GIS Day Committee, in its planning of GIS Day activities, provides a public venue for GIS
professionals throughout the State of Delaware to interact with citizens of all ages. For those
Delaware GIS professionals who are GISP certification holders - or who are pursuing a GISP
certification - it provides a valuable "Contribution to the Profession" opportunity as well as just a
general opportunity to volunteer their time and efforts.
- The Delaware GIS Day Committee has taken the lead in hosting an annual GIS Day event for
students and teachers to attend. This is an annual event, held in Dover, has taken place over the
last four years. Since the first GIS Day event, the GIS Day Committee has introduced the world of
Geospatial technologies to over 1000 people. During these four years Delaware entities have
showcased what GIS Professional possibilities there are now and will be in the future.
- Since we are in the fourth year of holding this event, we have had over 100 volunteers. These
volunteers are our Delaware GIS Community. We couldn’t hold this event without the help from
our volunteers. This event empowers are GIS Community to realize the positive impact their
professional career can make to future generations.
- The GIS Day Committee provides a venue for Delaware GIS Professionals to showcase their
technology advances in GIS to Delaware’s youth, their teachers and others.
- By holding a Delaware GIS Day event it has provided an outlet for our Delaware GIS Professional
Community to showcase how they are using GIS in their day-to-day workflow. This, in turn, has
been an excellent venue for Delaware’s educators to see first-hand the benefits of this
technology. Within the last four years of holding this event, not soley because of this event,
changes to the K-12 curriculum are being made in which Geospatial technologies will be a part of
how our children learn in the future.
- The Delaware GIS Day Event, while organized by the GIS Day Committee, is a volunteer oriented
event. The GIS Day Committee solicits volunteers from the Delaware GIS Community to host
individual activities and to act as tour guides for the school groups. In post event surveys, the
volunteers have always been positive regarding the event and have indicated that they would like
to be involved in the event again.
- The GIS Day Event hosted annually by the GIS Day Committee is designed specifically to
educate elementary school children on what GIS is, its capabilities, its applications, and to
demonstrate the passion that the Delaware GIS community possesses about GIS. The Delaware
GIS Day Event brings students from all over Delaware and showcases geography and
geographic information system tools in fun, engaging ways to nurture interest in the GIS field for
GIS Coordinator, Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security
I would like to nominate Matthew Laick for the Delaware Geographic Service award. Since starting at the
Department of Safety & Homeland Security, Matthew has made a big impact within our department. From the day
he arrived he started to assemble a comprehensive GIS database with current data from the data owners. At the
same time he started to set up a regular update routine for this data. Matthew has now started to share this
comprehensive database with our agencies for their use This will ensure that our department as a whole is using
the most up to date data available. This is the first time that we have this kind of coordination within our
Department. Matthew is also using this data to update the phone systems in all 9 of Delaware 911 centers. This
data ensures that anyone calling 911 can be located. Matthew is also working on a Situational Awareness
Application that will be used for all types of situations that may occur within Delaware. It will ensure that all
involved will be utilizing the same GIS data for their response as well as making decisions. In all the work and
progress that Matthew has made within the Department of Safety & Homeland security is invaluable and is
helping to make the lives of every Delaware Resident a little safer.
Matt Laick has been working in the GIS field for over 11 years. He received a Bachelor of Earth Science Degree,
with a concentration in Meteorology, from California University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters of Applied
Geography Degree, with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems, from New Mexico State University.
He worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as a Geographer working on land
exchanges and range management. Matt came to Delaware to become Director of the Mapping and Addressing
office for Sussex County, where he was responsible for parcel mapping as well as a readdressing project for the
entire county. After a stint as GIS Manager for the Department of Transportation, Matt is now GIS Coordinator for
the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. His main task is to coordinate GIS data and use throughout all
ten Divisions of the agency. Away from work he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.
- Matt provides service to the GIS community in Delaware by being actively involved within the community,
on the DGDC itself and on numerous sub-committees. He notes that this participation is an asset for his
work at Safety and Homeland Security. Having strong relationships with colleagues allows him to gather
the data necessary to update and maintain the mapping data in the State’s nine 9-1-1 centers. Matt has
been responsible for updating data in all of the centers; some had not been updated for several years and
many had different data formats. At this point, all data has been standardized and all 9-1-1 centers are
being updated on a regular basis.
- Matt notes, “Being part of the DGDC has allowed me to grow and understand my profession in many
ways.” Even when he is not serving as a chair of a committee, he always plays an active role and tries to
represent his constituency. Over the years, matt has served in the DGDC representing county
government, transportation issues, and public safety issues.
- Matt Laick has also tried to serve as a mentor. “I enjoy passing my knowledge to others who may benefit
from it. I also enjoy listening to others and I am always open to new and fresh ideas. If I am not willing to
at least listen to new ideas, I will become stale and stagnant.”
- Matt has also been a strong advocate for a State Wide GIS Infrastructure. He has encouraged the
Delaware GIS Community to push technology instead of just following it. As Director of Mapping and
Addressing in Sussex County, he led the way in many advances that benefitted the State overall.
Changing the way the county maintained Tax Parcel drawings, for example, from individual drawings to a
seamless countywide parcel fabric, helped improve the overall mapping of parcels, improved point
address and road centerline data, and provided a seamless countywide map that allows users to better
understand the relationship between different features.
- As Director of Mapping and Addressing in Sussex County, Matt had the opportunity to draft legislation
that would establish addressing standards for the county. The legislation, which was adopted into the
county code, was the first time any legislation in the county established how addresses were to be
assigned as well as how residents and business had to display their addresses. This was essential to
help emergency responders locate those who called for help.
- Matt Laick continues to try to increase outreach and communication within the Delaware GIS community
and with GIS professionals around the region and the nation. “By encouraging communication within our
community,” he says, “I feel that our community has made some positive advancement.”
McCrone, Inc. - Engineers, Surveyors, Planners
The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay Home Owners Association (HOA) takes pride in our 800-acre planned
residential development. The development includes 1,404 building units, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf
Course, the Lakeside Village commercial complex, and multiple recreational facilities. With all of these
properties and a wealth of amenities, the HOA was in serious need of an intuitive and cost-effective means to
maintain and manage the development. McCrone, Inc. understood our needs and proposed a solution that
merged aerial imagery, AutoCAD as-built record drawings, available utility company records, golf course
information, property conveyance, and management documentation into one user-friendly GIS solution.
Deliverables included the hardware, software, data and training.
- As managers of the HOA, we access information daily about the development and need for that
information to be organized spatially. Before GIS, we had people coming into our office to ask about
property information including floodplains, easement and rights-of-way, utility locations, etc. It was our
standard practice to drop what we were doing, consult our room filled with rolled-up paper files, or drive
down to the Sussex County Offices for information. This was a frustrating and inefficient method of finding
answers to simple questions.
- McCrone, Inc. presented us with the solution that solved our problems. McCrone, Inc. provided an
"Introduction to GIS" PowerPoint on the usefulness of GIS (with specifics on how it pertained to the
Peninsula), and their IT expert performed an onsite review of our computer system/network. During the
kick-off meeting, we confirmed the desired GIS layer content and discussed converting CAD information
into ESRI GIS layers. We then reviewed the computer set-up, installation of the necessary software, and
the training that would be provided for our staff. Our anticipation of using GIS was mounting as we
prepared for and gained the HOA Board of Directors approval.
- We now have a great tool for property management, organizing loads of data, as well as a work station
available to the HOA managers and members. The subdivision plats, easements, community facilities,
property records, monuments, streets, water systems, sanitary sewers, storm drains, storm water
management ponds, irrigation, wetlands, FEMA flood zones, recreational facilities, and street lighting is
all in one, spatially organized location. What would have taken me a couple of hours to do before GIS can
now be completed in 10 minutes! Homeowners can get answers to questions regarding their property,
builders about utility concerns, and maintenance personnel about the grounds. ! can quickly provide
answers based on as-built data, as opposed to just design drawings. McCrone even provided an
administrative log-on and a read only "common user" log-on for use by anyone without the fear of losing
or modifying the data. For instance, residents can check their utility service locations and property plats
against the community's common areas. Administrative staff can now focus on their administrative duties
saving the HOA time and money.
- The team of professionals at McCrone, Inc. (Scott Aja, Michael Bryce, Mary Lynch, Erica Rhoades, and
Derek Skilling) did a great job creating a user-friendly map application. It is similar to Google Earth, in the
sense that, it permits the user to click the layers on or off that you want displayed over the high-resolution
aerial imagery. The training they provided allowed me to maintain, modify, and even add content in the
- The Peninsula is prioritizing a list for updates and future desired data entry. We will be contacting
McCrone for more data capture and display. Some of the future layers will include: newly placed utilities,
existing gas lines, more irrigation spray heads and lines, and meters for both electric and water. The
ability to spatially organize all our existing information and update our map has made me very passionate
about this tool. The burden of sifting through piles of information looking for one detail; not having a
contiguous display of all my utilities, property lines, easements, and rights-of-way; and being stretched
too thin with daily responsibilities has been eased with this time and money-saving tool provided by
- McCrone, Inc. has provided a tool to the Peninsula Home Owners Association at Longneck that provides
valuable information in a spatially organized fashion. Providing this tool has made home owners
information readily available and saved the HOA money. The ability to come into the Management Office
and view property information, utilities information and location, right-of-ways, etc. has opened the eyes of
home owners, management, and care takers to the power of Geographic Information Systems. The more
people that experience the power of GIS will create a greater demand, thus, opening the door for others
in the Delaware GIS Community to provide a similar Facilities Management service.
- McCrone, Inc. provides direction and leadership of GIS applications to individuals, companies and
governments located in Delaware. Some examples would be Delaware National Guard (3D Scanning &
GIS Services), Peninsula HOA at Longneck (GIS-Facilities Management Tool), Ten Pin, LLC (Site
Locations Along railroads on the Delmarva Peninsula). In addition, McCrone, Inc. has actively
participating in the Delaware Geographic Data Committee (DGDC) meetings, presentations, and
- Training our clients is an integral part our product delivery. Ever since our first experience with GIS in the
mid 1990s, we’ve discussed mentoring up front with our clients and GIS is not implemented if clients don’t
commit to learning to use the resulting GIS products.
- Advanced applications of the basic GIS applications are integrated into our products through the use 3-d
Scanning and Business Analyst (an ESRI extension). We have successfully guided start up clients and
fast food franchises to place their stores at locations identified by their own criteria. As well, we have
provided 3 dimensional scans of facilities that may be utilized in GIS.
- To date, our focus has been on applications to benefit the greater GIS community. Perhaps, in the future
we will be able to comment on policy advances based on our experience. One area we believe needs
exploring is making property records available on line, like in neighboring Maryland.
- McCrone, inc. continues to reach out to governments, companies and individuals and educate them on
the usefulness of GIS. In addition, McCrone, inc. plans on presenting to the GIS community at events like
the DGDC in April. The efforts of McCrone, inc. will educate the people and allow them to see, first hand,
how GIS can make their lives easier, thus creating opportunity for the GIS Community.
- McCrone, Inc. is not just a technical service provider, but a trainer and teacher, too. McCrone has offered
non-certified and ESRI Certified Training Courses and continues to provide training to whoever may need
it. McCrone has built Geographic Information Systems for communities and followed the installation of
hardware and software with the appropriate training to utilize the technology. McCrone has also proposed
to train individuals at post secondary education facilities, the Delaware National Guard, and
municipalities. McCrone will continue to educate ourselves, our clientele and lead in the field of GIS,
shaping the next generation of Delaware’s GIS community of users.
Dr. Peter Rees
Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Delaware
I am writing to place in nomination the name of Dr. Peter W. Rees for the 2012 Delaware Geographic Service
Award. Dr. Rees is a faculty member in the Geography Dept. of the University of Delaware. In addition to his
consistent and substantial contributions to the geographic education of undergraduate and graduate students, Dr.
Rees has worked tirelessly for more than twenty years to bring geographic knowledge, perspectives and skills into
K-12 classrooms in Delaware. Three important contributions stand out:
- In 1989 Dr. Rees worked with representatives of the National Geographic Society and with the Delaware
Dept. of Public Instruction to found the Delaware Geographic Alliance. This organization has grown to a
membership of more than 600. The Alliance promotes geographic literacy by providing Delaware
teachers with quality professional development in geography. Under Dr. Rees’ leadership, key teachers
received in-depth training from National Geographic and ESRI and returned to Delaware to share their
knowledge in teacher institutes and training sessions introducing the use of GIS. Dr. Rees led two-week
summer institutes for teachers from 1990-2000 and taught numerous special courses designed to meet
the needs of teachers who wished to integrate geography into their classrooms.
- In the early 1990’s the State of Delaware began a comprehensive overhaul of the school curriculum.
Sensing an opportunity to establish the place of geographic instruction, members of the Delaware
Geographic Alliance became involved in the drafting of the Social Studies and Science standards. The
result was a program that includes real geography instruction at every grade level K-12. Dr. Rees served
for three years on the leadership team of the Social Studies Commission, contributing to the drafting of
the standards. In subsequent years, he penned Understanding the Geography Standards, a reference
document for educators designed to guide planning of curriculum and assessment related to the
standards. Dr. Rees also served as an item reviewer for the state testing system for many years, assuring
the content validity of the state assessment.
- High school teachers in Delaware expressed a need for high-quality, engaging instructional materials
based on the new standards. In response, Dr. Rees secured a research grant from the National
Geographic Society and launched the Delaware Geography Health Initiative. Each of the eight
instructional units in this collection is based on a real problem facing Delawareans. Each unit includes
GIS reference maps based on data collected by Dr. Rees and his team. Each unit challenges students to
build and apply spatial analysis skills in the solution of problems. The units were published in CD-Rom
format and have been widely distributed within the state at workshops and trainings sponsored by the
Delaware Geographic Alliance. The Delaware Dept. of Education has adopted the eight units of the CD
for use within the Delaware recommended Curriculum. During the summer of 2011, a new course for 9th
grade students was launched by the Delaware Dept. of Education. The eight units of the Delaware
Geography Health Initiative provide the basic building blocks of the course. Dr. Rees has participated in
training sessions launching the new course.
- Dr. Rees main contribution to service has been for 43 years the training of students in geography who
have gone on to be important figures in the Delaware GIS community (Vern C. Svatos was one of my
early students who took a number of my urban geography courses), and working with teachers to support
and encourage their ability to use GIS in Delaware’s K-12 classrooms.
- Dr. Rees founded the Delaware Geographic Alliance in 1988, today the principal vehicle in the state for
strengthening geography and GIS instruction in Delaware’s K-12 community. Coordinated the Alliance
from 1988-2005, which has now grown to over 600 members; for 20 years ,developed and ran summer
institutes and teacher workshops highlighting GIS and geography instruction methods. Secured funding
from numerous sources, including the National Geographic Society, the State of Delaware and ESRI,
totaling $1.376m to support the Alliance, including three Eisenhower Professional Development grants
(total $55K) to run two-week summer workshops providing GIS instruction to K-12 teachers.
- Served for three years on the leadership team of the Social Studies Commission that formulated and
adopted the first explicit standards for geography instruction in Delaware. Subsequently served for 14
years as the geography content reviewer of items for the state assessment (DSTP).
- Dr. Rees selected and secured positions for teacher candidates to train as instructors in GIS and
Geospatial Analysis at national workshops sponsored by National Geographic Society. Received the UD
2009 Excellence in Advising and Mentoring Award involving many years of directing students towards
careers in geography, and numerous K-12 teachers, who have gone on to become leaders in the GIS
and geographic education communities in the state.
- Published scholarly articles focusing on GIS, for instance:
- (with Jordan Silberman): “Reinventing Mountain Settlements: A GIS Model for Identifying
Potential Ski Towns in the U.S. Rocky Mountains” Applied Geography, 30 (2010):36-49
- (with Jordan Silberman): “The Delaware Geography-Health Initiative: Lessons Learned in
Designing a GIS-Based Curriculum” Journal of Geography, 109 (2010): 61-74
- Dr. Rees secured $46K Grosvenor grant from the National Geographic Society to support the Delaware
Geography-Health Initiative, a series of eight instructional units for high school based on a real problem
facing Delawareans. I was the primary author of each unit that uses GIS reference maps based on
original data and challenges students to build and apply spatial analysis skills in the solution of problems.
The units were published in a CD-ROM format (2007) and have been widely distributed within the state
through workshops and training sessions sponsored by the Delaware Geographic Alliance. Recently ,
these instructional units have been adopted by the Delaware Department of Education as part of the state
recommended Social Studies Curriculum, to be used by all 9th-grade students in the state as part of a
mandated geography course.