The New Jersey County Planners Association (NJCPA) hosted its regular meeting on February 19, 2016 at Thompson Park Visitor Center in Lincroft, NJ. Dom Elefante of MERI, illustrated the life cycle of a development permit from a GIS planning perspective. His presentation highlighted how permit tracking software and GIS are used to find property records and identify potential environmental constraints in the form of riparian claims and proximity to wetlands.
A planning tools expo organized by the New Jersey Planning Association was held on January 28, 2016 in New Brunswick; planners and other officials from State, County and education were present to share information about new tools for planning, transportation and emergency management. Dom Elefante, GIS Administrator from MERI presented the NJSEA Emergency Response Information System (ERIS) and water level alerts. These tools which benefit NJSEA municipalities, specifically First Responders of the 14-member municipalities include among others: on-the-fly access to Right-to-Know information pertaining to storage of hazardous chemicals in warehouses, fire-fighting pre-plan forms, fire incident reports, floor plans of critical facilities and water elevation alerts.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded funding to the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) to conduct research within the Meadowlands District .
Meri will measure the exchange rate of carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases in marshlands that receive tidal waters of different levels of salinity. These factors influence the natural storage of carbon and release of greenhouse gases from wetlands. Over the next 3 years MERI will receive $511,381.00 in federal funding for research that will inform decisions for wetland preservation and mitigation in the NJ Meadowlands.
More than 70 federal, state, county and municipal GIS professionals from all over the State of New Jersey/New York, along with professionals from private firms attended The New Jersey Geospatial Forum. The NJ GeoForum is a meeting place for the discussion of questions and issues related to the acquisition, management and communication of spatial information; a meeting meant to foster collaboration among GIS practitioners. The meeting was hosted by MERI and held at the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority campus on 9/18/15. Presentations were provided by the following members:
Francisco Artigas, MERI. Communicating Geographically in the Meadowlands: A GIS Perspective
Jason Bottcher, Hudson County. Utilizing ArcGIS Online for Government
Gabrielle Fausel & Nick Hutton, NJTPA/ Baker International. NJTPA Asset Management Data Model.
Steve Romalewski, CUNY. Online Mapping Notes from the Other Side of the Hudson.
MERI GIS is assisting members of the East Rutherford Police Department in creating detailed building floor plan maps of the town’s critical facilities. These maps provide the East Rutherford Police important information for emergency response situations. With the police department’s help, the MERI-GIS team is constructing maps highlighting building access points and other features that will help officers and responders quickly navigate these buildings in case of an emergency.
MERI and Natural Resources scientists are working to collect samples of benthic fauna from mudflats in the Meadowlands District as part of an EPA grant designed to assess the contaminant levels of mud dwelling critters that are the main source of food for some birds migrating through the Atlantic flyway. As the summer season comes to an end, migrating birds will start returning south to their wintering grounds and shorebirds will be stopping by the mudflats in the Meadowlands of New Jersey to feed before continuing their journey south. Scientists plan to determine the amount of contaminants the benthic fauna has accumulated from the sediment in which they live in this highly developed estuary. Another part of this study will examine the current diversity and population density of invertebrates at Meadowlands sites previously sampled several years ago. This will allow the researchers to recognize change over time in those benthic communities and from that infer changes in the quality of the habitat. The results of the two parts of this study will allow for informed decision making on natural resources management.
NJDEP Office of Natural Lands Management staff members visited with MERI and the Natural Resources Management Department on August 4, 2015. Presentations and discussions were provided by both Departments on their respective activities. Participants also toured the MERI laboratory, Library and GIS lab and Scientific Education Center. The day was complete with a pontoon boat tour through Sawmill and Mill Creek.
The professors and students from Montclair State University’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program came to meet with MERI staff. Staff members gave presentations regarding the MERI overview, GIS program and the Chemistry lab operations. The group also enjoyed a tour of the GIS lab and the Chemistry lab after the presentations.
The AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors Year-end Meeting was held at the Meadowlands Environment Center. Guest speaker, Dr. Francisco Artigas, Director of the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) gave an overview of the functions of MERI. The Program Manager from NJDEP and all the Ambassadors from the State all attended the meeting.
The GIS Team from Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) visited the Borough of East Rutherford’s Fire Station on Herman Street to show mapping tools available from the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority’s (NJSEA) Emergency Response Information System (ERIS). ERIS is a mapping tool provided to each member municipalities of the Authority focused on emergency related spatial data. Tools that were showcased included the Borough’s ability to create pre-plan reports, incident reporting, upload photos, view floor-plans and identify hazardous materials found in a building (i.e. substances that are reported to NJDEP’s RTK Program and MERI provides these reports in ERIS). MERI also demonstrated the water level alert where responders or town officials can subscribe to this alert (via text message or email), and are notified when flood waters approaches 6 feet. Water level alerts originate from continuous water level measurements from River Barge Marina (Carlstadt). Responders and/or Borough Officials can view corresponding static flood maps, and focus in on areas that may potentially flood. Other focus of the meeting was the use of GIS technology to map out key facilities within the Borough that may require detailed mapping for Police Department use. The outreach program overview sessions will continue through the summer/ fall of 2015, and will focus on meeting with specific groups of the towns.