Geospatial Tools Evolve Engineering Processes

By: Elizabeth Landowski, PE, is a senior geotechnical engineer based in the Jacksonville, Florida, office of Gannett Fleming, GeoDecisions’ parent company. Her expertise in the firm’s Dams and Hydraulics Practice includes geotechnical design, construction, and inspections for a wide variety of dam and levee owners.

Collaboration is the key to success! Working with Dan Hunter and Sam Edwards, GIS analysts based in our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, office, I had the opportunity to transform how Gannett Fleming conducts dam and levee safety inspections for our clients using the Esri® platform.

Previously, depending on the field crew size, dam and levee inspections were performed with multiple papers, pencils, clipboards, maps, and cameras. Coordinating the inspection data and photographs back in the office was time consuming and cumbersome, and particularly if your handwriting is difficult to read or understand. Even photographs may not have been associated with the correct information.

Digital Conversion

Using ArcGIS, our team was able to migrate the inspections from paper and pencil to fully digital data. Field inspections are now performed with all necessary personnel working on one map from their cellphones. In the office, the data can be received, analyzed, and processed into several different outputs within minutes. By leveraging geospatial tools, internal processes have improved in several ways:

  • Collect information in real-time

  • Reduce data processing time

  • Improve quality control

  • Implement digital record of inspections.

While Dan, Sam, and I worked together to develop an inspection process tailored to dam and levee safety inspections, the same process can be applied across numerous disciplines, such as construction inspection, construction material testing results, water resource structural inspections, soil boring classification, and so much more! 

To learn how this process can improve your projects, please contact me at