Summary

A nonprofit environmental organization focused on preserving the small remaining parcels of original prairie wanted a collaborative tool to help organize work projects, integrated with simple GIS tools and biological assessment capabilities. Here’s how we approached these objectives.

Nonprofit Landowners Web Site


Remnant Prairies is a nonprofit environmental project created to provide a variety of information services to landowners who hold small parcels of original prairie — which are about the only kinds that are left. These services center around helping preserve, improve, and when possible, expand these remnant areas. To this end, the organization wanted a site that accomplished the following:

  • Provide private project areas for each landowner entity within which project participants could communicate, share documents, and otherwise manage their properties.
  • Offer simple geographical information system (GIS) tools for annotating maps of land parcels.
  • Manage serial assessment of the biological quality of parcels through a technique called “floristic quality assessment,” which involves recording what plant species are present in a parcel and calculating various statistics from data about the local biological significance of those species.
  • Provide a clearinghouse of related organizations working in this field.

The Epimetrics Epicenter platform was a natural starting point for this organization’s web presence. The People and Groups tools handle the required membership and compartmentalization needs that divide access to areas in the site according to user roles and project memberships. Out of the box, this provides each landowner her own working area for her operations.

The database-backed Ruby on Rails infrastructure supported building out the other systems needed:


  • A plants database that included “coefficients of conservatism” data for each species plus automated links to Google searches for images and additional information.

  • An organizations database equipped with a tagging system to provide additional characterizations of each organization.

  • A locations system implemented with the Google Maps API that lets administrative users set up maps of their lands and add point, line, and 2D area overlays.

  • The FQA system linked to 2D areas by which users record plants they’ve found at a given time on their lands and then automatically get floristic quality results.

With these various tools always available over the Internet, distributed groups of people can collaborate in planning, performing, and evaluating their efforts at habitat restoration in these threatened parcels.


Created: September 15, 2009 12:50
Last updated: March 08, 2010 17:13


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