Selected Projects

Selected consulting projects

  • ArcMap Add-In Development – In cooperation with TerraSystems Southwest, developed a custom ArcMap add-in to facilitate assigning disturbance level and disturbance type attributes to thousands of hexagons covering the Sonoran Desert. The ArcMap add-in was developed to assist TNC and TerraSystems with rapid data editing to support The Nature Conservancy’s Sonoran Desert Disturbed Lands Analysis project.
  • ArcSDE Implementation and Geospatial Project Portal – Provided database design, conversion and application development services to Statistical Research Inc., to assist them with implementing a Geospatial Portal to report on and manage their archeological excavation activities associated with the excavation of a historical cemetery in downtown Tucson for the development of Pima County Joint Courts Complex. Work included designing a Geodatabase for data storage and developing a Geospatial portal website to report project statistics via maps and dynamically generated charts.
  • Mission Aviation Fellowship ArcIMS Website Development – Developed a public ArcIMS website that integrated the Mission Aviation Fellowship‘s mapping capabilities with their global database of areas in need of aide. Tasks involved project coordination, ArcIMS application design and programming in, and migration of MySQL sector assessment database data and statistical tables into ArcSDE and SQL Server.
  • City of Colton Enterprise GIS – Supplied on-call services to support the City of Colton‘s enterprise-wide GIS implementation. Work included developing custom GIS applications, integrating GIS with other city management systems, and migrating data to ArcGIS and ArcSDE. Services also included implementation of an ArcIMS-based document search and retrieval engine for city documents (the AsBuilt Retriever) and a web-service based parcel reporting economic development application. Past services included ArcSDE implementation, ArcIMS application development, and GIS integration with the Synergen work management system.
  • Philadelphia Airport RSIP Needs Assessment – As part of the Jones Payne Group team, participated in the development of a needs assessment and functional specification for a GIS-based Residential Sound Insulation Program (RSIP) management system to be used for the airport’s current and future RSIP activities. Work included conducting personal interviews of PHL staff, compiling interview data into use cases, and creating a functional specification document of the system’s conceptual design.This project was part of the Jones Payne Group’s management and implementation of the Philadelphia International Airport’s Federal Aviation Regulation Part 150. Part 150 is a section of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) that sets forth regulations and guidelines for airports desiring to undertake airport noise compatibility planning. The purpose for conducting a Part 150 Study at an airport is to develop a balanced and cost-effective plan for reducing current noise impacts from an airport’s operations, where practical, and to limit additional impacts in the future.
  • Friend Communications Data Conversion – Performed map rectification and digitizing to develop a nation-wide travel region map for Friend Communications. The map was used to geolocate a database of populated places with its associated travel region to enhance the searching capabilities of their website.
  • City of Colton Geodatabase Design and Implementation – Worked with the City of Colton Information Systems and department staff to develop a conceptual Geodatabase design for the City’s new enterprise ArcSDE database. The project involved information product needs assessments, staff interviews, and conceptual design development.
  • Water Resources Institute ArcIMS Project Management Services – Provided ArcIMS development, training and support services to the Water Resources Institute (WRI), to assist with: forming a strategic direction for implementing and maintaining ArcIMS, designing and developing prototype ArcIMS applications, and providing guidance and training to WRI staff and volunteers on how to manage and enhance applications for ArcIMS. Deliverables included a custom built prototype ArcIMS application that integrated with a remotely hosted LaserFiche website to display water well data.
  • Imperial County Planning Department Accela/GIS Integration – Working with Mende GIS, assisted the Imperial County Planning Department with GIS application development and integration services to interface County base map data with their Accela permitting system database. Work also included developing GIS standard map products, creating planning related GIS data, and staff training.
  • L&L Environmental GPS and GIS Training and Consulting Services – Provided GIS and GPS consulting and training services for L & L Environmental. GPS training services include training staff to convert and import field data collected from their Trimble GIS units into ArcView 8.x and create wetland delineation maps.
  • Michael Brandman Associates On-Call GIS Services – Provided on-call GIS services for Michael Brandman Associates. Services included GIS analysis, map production, GPS and GIS data collection, training, and GIS consulting and project management services. Due to their tremendous growth, MBA has since hired several staff who now handle these tasks for the company; and we are pleased to see their GIS program growing.
  • Rhode Island Airport Authority (RIAC) RSIP GIS – As part of the Jones Payne Group team, converted Rhode Island Airport Authority (RIAC)’s ArcView 3.x projects and data to ArcGIS 9.x format, including integrating ArcGIS with RIAC’s Lotus Notes RSIP database. Work also included developing a training manual for RIAC staff.
  • General Plan and Zoning Geodatabase Development – Developed a geodatabase for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Tasks included converting general plan and zoning paper maps from the City of Palm Springs and City of Rancho Mirage, plus integrating digital GIS data from the Cathedral City and the County of Riverside.The resulting geodatabase contained general plan and zoning layers derived from data of surrounding City and County agencies, plus geodatabase relationship classes to relate each agency’s different zoning and general plan designation to the proper zoning code in the geodatabase. In addition, coded attribute domains were created to assist the tribe with the continued maintenance of the geodatabase.
  • DARPA Grand Challenge Environmental GIS Management – As part of the Michael Brandman Associates team, performed GIS program management services to assist Michael Brandman Associates with the analysis and documentation of potential environmental impacts of Defense Advanced Research Project Authority (DARPA’s) Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle competition in the Mojave Desert. Work included GIS and GPS data collection, analysis, map production, compiling the project’s final report to the USFWS, and coordination with DARPA staff and subcontractors.
  • Applied Geodetics Navior Application Development – Developed the release version of the Navior ArcView 3.x extension for Applied Geodetics. The extension integrates georeferenced as-built scanned drawings with ArcView. Deliverables included the compiled extension, Avenue source code, setup and end-user documentation, and an integrated Windows HTML help file.
  • GPS and GIS Training and Consulting Services – Provided GIS and GPS consulting and training services for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. GPS training services include training tribal staff to use their Trimble Pathfinder Pro XRS receiver and Trimble TSC1 datalogger with Trimble’s Pathfinder Office and Asset Surveyor software.
  • Chaffey College GIS and GPS Faculty Training – Provided training to selected Chaffey College faculty on the operation of two Trimble Pathfinder Pro XR GPS units that were acquired through a FIPP grant. Instruction consisted of sessions on how to install, configure and use the Trimble Pathfinder Pro XR GPS and TSCe Datalogger; install, configure and use Trimble’s TerraSync and Pathfinder Office software, and perform GIS analysis of GPS data in ArcView.
  • Nobel Systems ArcIMS Application Development Services – Provided ArcIMS application development services for Nobel Systems to assist them with developing a new version of their GeoViewer product that leveraged ArcIMS – where the previous version used MapObjects.
  • City of Colton Synergen Work Order Management System Integration – Assisted the City of Colton with the integrating its GIS data and ArcIMS applications with the City’s new Synergen work order management system.
  • City of Colton MapLibrary Implementation and Data Integration – Assisted the City of Colton with implementing DCSE’s MapLibrary product. As part of the implementation, we developed scripts to batch upload the City’s existing scanned as-built drawings into MapLibrary, and reconfigured other GIS databases and applications to use MapLibrary as the source of all scanned as-built drawings.
  • Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District ArcObjects Application Development – Completed the development of two ArcObjects applications to assist Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District GIS staff with the editing and maintenance of hydrants and valves in their ArcSDE database.
  • GIS Analysis for a Tribal Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan – Assisted Michael Brandman Associates (MBA) with GIS analysis activities to support their development of a multi-species habitat conservation plan for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Donoghue and Associates worked with MBA staff to determine suitable areas for the conservation of species such as bighorn sheep, as part of the plan’s conservation element.
  • City of Colton ArcIMS Website Development – As part of a project to develop GIS applications for the City of Colton, CA., developed an ArcIMS web site and several web services for the City’s Public Utilities Department. The ArcIMS application is currently deployed on the City Intranet, and consists of an html-based user interface that is used to deliver most ArcIMS services, and java-based utility viewer interface that is used for utility facility asset viewing. Donoghue and Associates recently assisted the City with upgrading to its ArcIMS web services to ArcIMS 4.

Here are some selected screenshots of a few custom developed applications.


Recent Posts

Re-­engineering the Business Process of Desert Tortoise Data Collection

John Donoghue, Former Technology Manager at Ironwood Consulting

Ironwood Consulting Inc. (Ironwood) is a biological resources consulting firm in Southern California, and specializes in biological resource management, including desert tortoise permitting and mitigation. Ironwood is known for its successful work on large-­scale solar development projects in the Mojave Desert. Most recently, Ironwood was responsible for the pre-­project surveys, permitting, relocation, and monitoring of tortoises on four large-­scale solar energy projects: Desert Sunlight (3,000 acres), Silver State South (2,400 acres with 104 tortoises), Stateline (1,500 acres with 41 tortoises), and Dry Lake SEZ (serving three solar energy developer clients over a combined 2,000 acres with 45 tortoises). These projects combined required the successful translocation and monitoring of over 200 desert tortoises.

The problem
The large-­scale solar development projects Ironwood was managing required collecting a great deal of field data. During active desert tortoise field seasons, over 70 biologists would be collecting location, health, and other data on desert tortoises moving throughout project sites and offsite mitigation areas. This data was used to determine each tortoise’s territory, ascertain its health and identify other tortoises it may be interacting with. The information was necessary to help plan and ensure the successful translocation of tortoises from the project development site to nearby mitigation preserves, where tortoises would continue to be monitored to confirm they were adjusting to their new homes after the move.

Field biologists worked in remote locations that were often out of cellular voice and data access most of the time. Historically, field biologists collected data on paper forms that were later transcribed into Excel for analysis and reporting. Later, Ironwood adopted a system that used Pendragon Forms for offline field-­based digital data entry. This data was later synced through a server into a Microsoft Access database for storage and use. While the Pendragon Forms system accelerated the process of collecting and digitizing field data, biologists were aggravated by its antiquated interface and wanted forms that worked like the other iOS and Android applications they regularly used, with features that included scrolling pages, advanced data entry constraints on fields, photographs, GPS support and more.


  • Previous interface lacked modern features and user experience
  • Some data was entered into more than one form to record a single activity
  • Data entry errors were common
  • Data required time-­consuming and expensive manual QA/QC
  • Data available to system users was not relational and could not easily address questions asked by project managers
  • Projects hosted in separate databases with different schemas
  • Lack of standard database schema hampered efforts to gain efficiencies and prevented meta-­analyses across projects

The Pendragon/Microsoft Access system also required field biologists to enter some of the same data into different Pendragon forms, which resulted in many data entry errors and required a great deal of oversight and time-­consuming manual QA/QC. With Ironwood simultaneously managing multiple large-­scale solar projects, the time consuming manual processes that the Pendragon/Microsoft Access system required became very costly. Furthermore, the system wasn’t designed to support multiple end users, and the data products produced by the system were not designed to quickly answer the questions project managers were regularly asked by the solar development clients and agencies. Since each project was hosted in its own separate Access database with varying schemas to accommodate the peculiarities of each project, the absence of a standardized multi-­project database made analyses across projects impractical.

Developing a New Solution
To address these limitations, Ironwood decided to design an entirely new system that could support hosting multiple projects with multiple simultaneous users, while providing a greater variety of data products to address the different needs of field-­biologists, project managements, clients, and agencies. Ironwood began by meeting with their biologists in charge of desert tortoise management to review the shortcomings of the current system and discuss the envision the opportunities a new system could generate. The information from this and subsequent meetings resulted in a new database design that comprised a core set of tables and table fields that were designed to manage the data for multiple projects, and could accommodate all previously collected tortoise data, as well as incoming data for all upcoming desert tortoise projects. To ensure the database could support multiple simultaneous internal and external users working on different projects, the new database was implemented in Microsoft SQL Server. This also provided a foundation to support integrations with GIS other business systems.

In looking to replace Pendragon Forms, Ironwood reviewed a number of alternative iOS and Android applications for field-­based data entry. Ultimately, iFormBuilder was selected because it provided several benefits: there were iFormBuilder applications for both iOS and Android; the form building process in iFormBuilder was very intuitive, and the resulting forms had the modern user interface and user experience the field biologists desired. iFormBuilder forms also offered many features Ironwood needed, such as data entry constraints, data input masks, context sensitive field visibility, field validation, GPS support and in-form photos. Finally, the field biologist workflows were often best implemented as sub-­forms, and iFormBuilder sub-­forms were more intuitive to field biologists than the previous Pendragon Forms.

Integrating iFormBuilder and SQL Server
A fundamental goal for Ironwood’s new system was automating previously manual processes, and automating the transfer of data from iFormBuilder’ forms to Ironwood’s SQL Server database was a critical component. Fortunately, iFormBuilder offered an XML Post Data feature that pushes a copy of each record’s data from iFormBuilder to a user defined web page every time a new record is successfully uploaded to the iFormBuilder server.

Ironwood developed an web application that contained a set of URL endpoints to receive XML data posted from iFormBuilder. The application parsed the incoming XML data and inserted data as new records into Ironwood’s SQL Server database. During this process, the application also performed QA/QC on incoming data, standardized data formats, and transformed the location information contained in the posted data into Open Geospatial Consortium (OCG) compliant spatial data for use in Ironwood’s ArcGIS system and other applications. Finally, the application sent each user synching data to iFormBuilder an email that informed them of their successful data sync and identified any potential data errors found by the QA/QC processes.

Another goal of the new system was to re-­engineer the data collection business processes to remove duplicate data entry processes and reduce the number of digital forms needed. The previous Pendragon forms were designed to populate single database tables. Field biologists often had to enter some of the same data into different Pendragon forms as they performed a single activity, such as a health assessment – in which biologists completed one Pendragon form to record a tortoise location, and another Pendragon form to record tortoise health data.

In contrast, Ironwood designed its iFormBuilder forms around the activities biologists performed during their tortoise survey and monitoring work. As the data was received by Ironwood’s application during syncing, the application would automatically populate the appropriate tables. Therefore, a field biologist could use an activity specific iForm to record data for multiple associated activities, and the application would sort the received data and populate the data into each relevant table.

Leveraging Better Data
To help provide more expedient and broader access to the data gathered in iFormBuilder, Ironwood also developed an website that served as a central hub for field biologists, project managers, clients, and agencies. The resulting web portal supported multiple users and projects, and provided access to data as soon as it was synced from iFormBuilder and pushed into Ironwood’s SQL Server database. The web portal provided dashboards where users could view tortoise statistics and interactive maps of tortoise locations that were dynamically generated from the database using data from the most recent iFormBuilder application sync.

The web portal provided data in different formats for the various types of users the system supported. Field biologists and agencies accessed the portal to download dynamically generated Excel and GPX files that contained the most recently recorded tortoise locations and other information. Project Managers and Clients downloaded dynamically generated KML data for mapping in Google Earth, and viewed dynamic charts and statistics to review project’s status and look for potential issues. Unpublished URL endpoints allowed the data to be brought into ArcGIS Online, Google Earth and other systems.

In addition, by storing the location data as OGC compliant spatial points, the database could be directly accessed by GIS systems, and was persistently linked to Ironwood’s esri ArcGIS system where Python scripts automated daily cartographic quality maps used by field biologists, project managers, and clients.

The better data input constraints provided in iFormBuilder significantly reduced Ironwood’s QA/QC needs. Despite having developed an automated backend QA/QC process, Ironwood later found that 95% of the data pushed into its database had no potential QA/QC issues identified by that process as the errors were constrained during data-­entry in iForms.

Field biologists were especially pleased with the new system. The iFormBuilder forms provided a modern user interface and user experience they expected, and iFormBuilder features such as designating the default device keyboard for fields, data input masks, and context sensitive field visibility, significantly increased the speed with which biologists could enter data into iForms, while being confident that data was accurate.


  • Considerably fewer data errors
  • Increased adoption of digital forms
  • Greater trust in data
  • Much faster data turn-­around
  • Significantly lower data management costs
  • Improved client confidence in data management process
  • Increased client satisfaction
  • Improved agency cooperation
  • Stronger client relationships

The iFormBuilder XML Push workflow has greatly benefited field biologists by ensuring that the data the biologists recorded and synched was instantly added to Ironwood’s SQL Server database and biologists were immediately informed of its availability.

By developing a data portal website, Ironwood was able to leverage iFormBuilder and SQL Server to provide biologists, project managers, clients and agencies with access to all data anytime they needed it. Clients have praised the system and are using it regularly to keep informed on the progress of the mitigation programs for their projects. By making data collection processes transparent and providing clients with readily accessible data in the formats they needed, Ironwood was able to better communicate the data collection effort with its clients which reinforced the client’s trust in Ironwood’s data collection processes.

Though considerable effort was involved in reaching agreement with on a new database design and data input forms that bridged the gap between the needs of the field biologists and Ironwood’s end-­users, by implementing an integrated iFormBuilder, SQL Server and solution, Ironwood was able to reengineer the business process of desert tortoise data collection. While the entire system took time to develop, the major benefits were realized when the system was fully implemented on multiple projects, where it essentially ran itself with very little intervention, resulting in significantly reduced data management and reporting costs, ultimately transforming a once cost-­intensive activity into a financial and practical benefit to Ironwood’s clients.

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