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procedure similar to that used in Phase 1 will be employed.  New technologies, such as ESRI’s Data Interoperability Kit, Feature Manipulation Engine, and ArcGIS Server 9.2 will be evaluated.  Phase 2 is planned for May of 2007.

Using Coal Mining Geospatial Data

Within the various SMCRA organizations, managers have struggled with demands to modernize business processes, improve efficiency, and produce higher quality work products in a budget-constrained environment with limited resources.  A key factor affecting these demands is the high but hidden cost of managing paper information products such as narrative reports, tables of environmental data, and maps.  Historically, SMCRA organizations have required that mining companies provide these information products with every permit action involving considerable quantities of paper at great expense in order to conduct analyses supporting regulatory decisions affecting surface coal mining operations.  Extracting features shown on coal mining operation maps with their associated attributes for storage and management in a Geographic Information System (GIS) allows access, analysis, and reuse of this data by modern software applications.  This is a significant technological advancement in processing data contained in the information product most resistant to conversion to “intelligent data” – paper maps.  With this development, opportunities now exist for re-engineering SMCRA business processes to employ automation to improve efficiency, and use of scientific software mapping applications to conduct better analyses resulting in higher quality work products.

In the modern SRA working environment, a spatial data infrastructure which uses data storage structures in a client-server architecture will promote acquisition of new spatial data from the mining industry in a digital format; aid in conversion of existing paper-based maps to digital format through scanning and digitizing; support the business processes of the organization through the use of scientific software to display, query, and map coal mining spatial data at desktop workstations; provide spatial data for use by mobile computing devices equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology at coal mining operations; support Electronic Permitting (EP) initiatives; and establish a foundation for On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP).  OLAP allows users to query summarized, multidimensional data; apply relevant business logic; retrieve information; and produce fast, consistent, and accurate information products that support decision-making in applications without manual data manipulation.  A brief description of how OLAP applies to geospatial data can be found on-line at http://www.esri.com/news/arcuser/0206/olap1of2.html.

For many reasons, SMCRA organizations will require coal mining spatial data infrastructures which support the present operational needs of their organizations and provide an adequate foundation to meet future challenges.  At the SRA, these infrastructures will be used in the management of day-to-day activities related to technical review of coal mining permit applications and inspection of coal mining operations.  At OSM, coal mining spatial data collected from SRA infrastructures and aggregated into national datasets will be used to help implement the nation’s coal mining laws and regulations, promote better understanding of the potential impacts of surface coal mining operations, detect and identify problems,  and provide new opportunities in the assignment of resources to resolve potential environmental issues.

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