The California Department of Conservation has been using the DMP platform to conduct location research and analysis for years. When the department decided that it wanted to develop an app to give citizens the ability to review earthquake hazard zones, SmartParcels was the clear choice. Combining SmartParcels, a nationwide parcel database that ties parcel boundaries to 300+ property and tax attributes, with its existing California Geological Survey (CGS) regulatory data, the department developed an app that has streamlined public access to earthquake hazard data, improving awareness.
What Does the California Department of Conservation Do?
The California Department of Conservation is made up of scientists, engineers and other professionals dedicated to the State of California’s public safety, environment, and economy. The department’s intention is to balance the needs of today while protecting the future by fostering “wise use and conservation of energy, land and mineral resources.” The department oversees several divisions, including CGS, the Division of Land Resource Protection, the Division of Mine Reclamation, the Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources, and the State Mining and Geology Board.
Developing an App for the Public
Earthquake safety is a major concern for residents of California, but until recently it was difficult for the general public to know if a property fell into one of the regulatory zones for faults or seismic hazards. Properties with new construction or major remodels falling into these zones may require additional studies or be required to meet higher construction standards than other properties. Also, the presence of these hazard zones must be reported to prospective real estate purchasers as part of California’s natural hazard disclosure law. To address this, the department decided to develop an app: the Earthquake Hazards Zone Application (EQ Zapp).
“We developed the Earthquake Zone app using SmartParcels together with regulatory zones produced by the California Geological Survey, and intersected those with parcel geometries,” explains Nathaniel Roth, GIS coordinator for the California Department of Conservation. “We were able to develop a basic notification tool that the public can use as an interactive app, allowing them to easily see whether parcels they are looking at touch an earthquake zone.”
EQ Zapp is an online map that can be accessed from any computer, tablet or smartphone. Users type in an address, or share their current location using their mobile device or computer, to determine if a property is located within any areas flagged by CGS as earthquake hazard zones, or whether the property has been evaluated for earthquake hazards.
Prospective sellers and buyers of residential or commercial properties use EQ Zapp to learn about potential earthquake hazards. EQ Zapp pairs property data from SmartParcels with geological information from CGS to identify high-risk areas, including areas that are susceptible to strong ground shaking, fault rupture (where the earth breaks along a fault), liquefaction (soil that cannot support structures during earthquakes), and earthquake-induced landslides. This information is powerful for residents because it shows areas with potential earthquake risks. Local governments may require new construction in these areas to incorporate protective features to increase safety.
The California Department of Conservation is pleased with the initial response to EQ Zapp, reporting that website traffic doubled in just three weeks after deployment due to app searches. “We’ve gotten a good initial public response, and none of this would have been possible without SmartParcels,” says Roth. “We’ve gotten positive responses from colleagues and collaborators as well – notably folks from the US Geological Survey telling us that this is an important app, and that we’ve done a good job.”
The EQ Zapp is available to everyone. Click here to see how it works.
Using the DMP Platform for Conservation Projects
The State of California is a long-time DMP client, and the Department of Conservation also utilizes the DMP platform for other environmental projects. SmartParcels data helps the department better understand the areas in which it works, including areas containing oil and natural gas, geothermal resources, mining operations, and agricultural land.
“We use SmartParcels across many different projects as a baseline data reference set, and we use it as a screening tool for potential conflicts,” says Roth. “It shows us enough information that we know when we need to get more detail for cases where we need a deeper understanding. SmartParcels gives us an incredible starting point.”
SmartParcels helps the California Department of Conversation easily analyze property data for many projects. As an example, the department recently needed to determine how many schools, churches, and residential properties were located within close proximity of oil and gas wells in the Los Angeles basin. “SmartParcels helped us do this quickly without the need to collect and process county data,” Roth explains. “The DMP platform provided a useful illustration of where these properties were located, making it easy for us to see the affected parcels.”
The DMP platform allows for greater collaboration between the Department of Conservation and its sister agencies within the State of California. “We have the advantage of consistent data sets from across the whole state, and this allows us to talk in the same terms across all departments in the state,” says Roth. “This was a problem before using SmartParcels.” Streamlining cross-department collaboration has had a tremendous impact on the Department of Conservation’s efficiency. Says Roth, “it would take a huge amount of effort to replace what SmartParcels has done for us.”
Thank You to the California Department of Conservation!
Thank you to Nathaniel Roth and the California Department of Conservation team! It is incredible to see how your department leverages so much of what the DMP platform has to offer, from conducting property research to developing an app that improves public access to critical information.
How Can the DMP Platform Help You Develop an App?
All of the components in the DMP platform work together to provide powerful solutions for over 1,200 businesses and government entities. SmartParcels is a nationwide parcel database that ties parcel boundaries to 300+ property and tax attributes, and can be either streamed into your app in real-time through SpatialStream or accessed directly using our LandVision application. Best of all, you don’t need to be a GIS expert to reap all of the benefits. Let us show you how!