Surveying, Mapping and GIS

Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development and enterprise architecture...

  • Geospatial Technology, End to End...

    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy


Posted by Dave Smith On 9/10/2010 10:54:00 AM 7 comments

As I have been ramping up on EPA's Facility Registry System over the last couple of months since coming on board with EPA, I have also had the opportunity to work on a number of other projects - one recent one that's rolled out is MyPropertyInfo.

The most truly fun thing about working in EPA's Office of Environmental Information is that they are involved in a lot of collaborative, cross-cutting efforts, so I get exposed to a lot of different things across the agency. As an example of this, in working with EPA's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer Larry Gottesman and FOIA staff, they were pursuing an idea of greater accessibility toward reducing FOIA requests, such as in the case of common requests for data which actually is already being published by EPA, but which may be scattered across separate locations in the agency.

One example of this is MyPropertyInfo -

Here, we sought to address frequently-asked questions about properties. This type of basic background and screening is highly useful and important to bankers, realtors, prospective buyers, developers and others who deal in real estate and properties - yet, to gather all of the relevant information about a property, one might have to visit multiple sites across EPA, or to submit a FOIA request and wait to have EPA gather the data from those disparate sources. So what we did in the case of MyPropertyInfo is quickly roll out a tool that basically just gathers that existing content in one place, and additionally provide it in printer-friendly form.

Thought it was essentially just screen-scraping (as we do not directly control some of the source reporting systems), it was nonetheless a quick and effective way of getting questions answered.  Moving foward, it again demonstrates also that using approaches that can provide easily integratable content like web services in addition to traditional HTML reports, content can be even more elegantly repurposed and reused in a variety of effective ways to answer business questions - with web services associated with the reporting engines, the widgets and iPhone apps for these types of applications will virtually build themselves.  For example, real estate sites like would also be able to dynamically pull environmental profile information about properties of interest to prospective buyers - hopefully a vision for the future at EPA.

Here is some additional perspective on MyPropertyInfo as posted to EPA's Greenversations blog by the FOIA office's Wendy Schumacher: