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Web Informatics and Mapping (WIM)

Based out of the Upper Midwest Water Science Center (UMID), Web Informatics and Mapping (WIM) is a team of Geographers, Hydrologists, Physical Scientists, Computer Scientists, and IT Specialists who develop web-based tools that support USGS science and other federal science initiatives.

We are a group of around 25, based out of ten states across the contiguous United States. We come from a diverse set of technical backgrounds, and combine our collective expertise in cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), earth sciences, information technology, and software development to deliver practical and innovative custom products to meet our cooperators’ needs. Our team is mission and results oriented and believes federal service does not prevent us from finding novel approaches and innovative solutions to the challenges we face in our work.

Group photo of 21 smiling people standing in a wooded area in the spring.
Front row (left to right): Julia Prokopec, Harper Wavra, Aileen Clarke, Lorraine Metz, Chad Fanguy, Daniel Rubin, Milan Liu
Middle row (left to right): Lauren Privette, Andrea Medenblik, Aaron Stephenson, Hans Vraga, Kathy Dooley, Maggie Jaenicke, Andrew Laws
Back row (left to right): Anders Hopkins, Joey Inskeep, Ethan Bott, Blake Draper, Gene Trantham, Joe Federer, Erik Myers
May, 2023

WIM was officially established in October of 2008, when the dissolution of the Cartography and Publishing Program (CAPP) left a small group with GIS and cartography experience working under the Wisconsin Water Science Center on web mapping projects. In its early days, the team was known as Wisconsin Internet Mapping (typically shortened to WiM). Our first project was a collaboration with the Mercury Research Team, also based out of Wisconsin, developing an interactive mapping application showing estimated methylmercury levels in National Parks waterbodies. The application was used by the National Park Service as a decision-making tool to determine where to invest resources in remediating methylmercury contamination. 

WIM’s project portfolio – and team – grew and evolved slowly and steadily over the following years, as networking and word-of-mouth connected us to new projects with similar needs. As our portfolio grew, so did the diversity of our cooperators; technical requirements and complexity of our solutions; extent of our products’ reach; and capacity for our team to operate effectively within the federal space. As a result of this growth, WIM adopted its current name, Web Informatics and Mapping, to better reflect the type of work we do. Today, WIM is one of the few dedicated software development groups within the USGS, and our work is 100% reimbursable, allowing us the opportunity to continue working on a diverse set of projects.  

WIM’s work generally falls into the following categories: interactive map viewers and data visualization tools involving static and dynamic data, which support simple viewing or more complex data-interaction workflows; tools and software, typically of a geospatial nature, that assist with data preparation, transformation, and management; geonarratives and other out-of-the-box applications to facilitate data and science communication using enterprise tools; and consultation services on technical topics for which we have related experience. 

While most of our projects come from USGS Water Science Centers and the USGS Water Mission Area, one of the most exciting aspects of the work WIM does comes from the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of USGS science projects within and beyond our Science Center. This is possible due to the support of UMID and the reimbursable model we follow for funding our projects. In Fiscal Year 2023, we worked on over 75 projects with around 35 cooperators across the federal government. Within the USGS, we contributed to projects under all 6 mission areas and 6 of the 7 regions. We’ve also had the opportunity to work on projects for the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Department of Interior, and even the White House. 

Currently, many of WIM’s major projects stay true to the team’s original work building web mapping applications in the water science space. Our largest funded project is StreamStats, a web application that offers a variety of geospatial analytical tools for water-resource planning and management, including basin delineation tools that can provide basin characteristic information for a user-selected location. WIM also contributes to the Flood Inundation Mapping (FIM) Program, which develops and validates flood inundation map libraries, and provides users with access to flood inundation maps alongside real-time streamflow data, flood forecasts, and potential loss estimates.  

Our interactive mappers and web systems are also used to share information and support response during extreme weather events. The Real-Time Flood Impact Map (in development) will use streamgage measurements to predict the impact of flooding on critical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. The Short Term Network (STN) is an internal application and database which supports the Survey’s event-based sensor deployments and high water mark data collection efforts nationwide, a critical resource during hurricane season.  

WIM’s contributions outside of the water science space include Motus, a rapid-response earthquake data portal used by trained seismology technicians in the USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center (GHSC). WIM has provided software developer expertise to help the GHSC to modernize the interface used for critical USGS earthquake response, which ultimately serves the USGS ShakeAlert® earthquake early warning system. The Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership (WHISpers) is a wildlife disease event reporting system that allows for the timely, accurate sharing of wildlife disease event occurrence. WHISpers is developed in cooperation with the USGS National Wildlife Health Center.  

In coming years, WIM hopes to expand the work we do, especially as the demand for modern web development tools for science communication grows across the federal space. As we seek to expand our technical proficiencies to meet cooperator needs, we’re regularly hiring individuals with a variety of different skillsets, experiences, and backgrounds. Since the start, WIM has prided itself in building a team of individuals with high integrity, strong work ethic, and a commitment to continued learning, who encourage us to evolve to meet the changing demands of our organization. In this way, we hope to continue pursuing innovative approaches to deliver on the USGS mission of providing science for a changing world.