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Natural Resources Data Portal app

, 25 Aug 2013
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A windows 8 tablet app for querying and sampling Natural Resource (soils/water) data.

Please note

This article is an entry in our AppInnovation Contest. Articles in this sub-section are not required to be full articles so care should be taken when voting.


The purpose of this app is to provide a gateway to natural resources data pertaining to almost every county within the continental United States. The current concept is to focus on water resources data – from the U.S Geological Survey (USGS), and soils data – from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

What kind of data is this, and what's its importance?
This data provides physical and chemical characteristics of a natural resource (soil or water) from a mapped region.  If a physical geographer wanted to calculate the drainage rate, or fluid drift capacity, of soil in a certain region, they would need to know the phys-chem characteristics of this soil in order to make meaningful calculations.  

Targeted users  

  • Educators and students in Earth Science fields, such as Geology and Physical Geography.
  • Policy makers in earth resource organizations (e.g. the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S department of Justice). 
  • Geologists. 

Data presentation 

Much of the data will be presented to the user in conjunction with Bing maps. 

Here is a quick scenario of how the app will work. 

Say a user wants to request surface-water discharge records for the Upper Wisconsin basin. The user would need to know the Lat-Long coordinates lying within the basin region. There are 3 ways of entering said coordinates: by travelling to the basin and letting the tablet’s GPS do the magic; by manually entering the coordinates; or by zooming into Bing using the apps multi-touch gestures and selecting a region from the map. 

Results will be returned by way of web services that link into the National Water Information System (NWIS) of the USGS. Returned data will mostly include kml (Keyhole Markup Language) data, for map overlay information, and various links for file attachments a user may download for extra information.  

Depending on the type of request, map overlay data will include download links, small images, data tables, and other forms of overlay metadata.

Sample surface-water discharge data overlayed in bing.

How user will request data  

A user will need geographic coordinates of an area in order to request soils/water data for that area. There are multiple ways to get these coordinates.  

  • Using the tablet’s GPS. If a user is physically at the location whose soils/water data they need to sample, the app will provide an option to invoke the GPS geo-placing capabilities.
  •  By selecting the sampling location in Bing maps, using the multi-touch zooming gestures of the app.
  •  By manually entering the coordinates in the app's request form. 

Other app capabilities 

The app will provide:

  • Charting facilities to present soils/water data sampled across multiple years. 
  •  Instant snapping of a map region, and options for tagging the snap with notes or photos taken at a sampling site. The snapped (and tagged) region can then be stored on the device, emailed, or shared across social networks. 
  • Weather data of user’s location using GPS, in conjunction with the tablet’s data connection. 

App category and platform
Education (Tablet Platform)
Development process 
We are using WPF and C# for developing this app. The Bing maps API will feature prominently, alongside RESTful JSON-heavy web services. This will be a data heavy app, and we anticipate making much use of the C# caching API as well as part of the file system.
And of course Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop will be the IDE.  


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer
United States United States
My professional experience in Software Development spans 2 years.
Much of that experience has been in Microsoft technologies: MVC.Net, Asp.Net, C#, VB, WPF, WCF, SQL Server, TFS, etc.
I currently work in the environmental sustainability industry, developing web tools for enviro-policy organizations and private individuals.
It's really cool to explore how technology can help solve some of man's environmental challenges.

Comments and Discussions

QuestionHow's app development going? Will you be submitting on time? PinstaffKevin Priddle23-Oct-13 8:27 
AdminThanks for entering! PinstaffKevin Priddle22-Aug-13 7:03 
GeneralRe: Thanks for entering! PinprofessionalSG8526-Aug-13 3:11 
GeneralRe: Thanks for entering! PinstaffKevin Priddle27-Aug-13 7:19 

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