Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Creating an application-based solution to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada oversight of all their properties.

Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) has a large portfolio of properties, including: Light HousesCoast Guard BasesAids to Navigation (Lights, Ranges)Docks & Wharfs and Harbours. Many of them are in remote locations and some of them are contaminated with pollutants. DFO has on-going programs to maintain these properties as well as to remediate the contaminated sites. 

The Challenge

DFO was faced with two key business challenges:  

  • Travel to the remote sites is very expensive, specially for inspection purposes and typically involves helicopter charters.   
  • It is often not readily apparent which properties need to be investigated for contamination. Investigating all of them would increase program costs prohibitively. 

HoweverDFO has a vast amount of aerial imagery of sites going back to the 1920’s with increasingly high-resolution new imagery being obtained every year. DFO determined that analysis of these images provided an excellent record of change over time at these properties and an indication whether they might be contaminated. In addition, the high-resolution imagery allowed for preliminary “remote” inspection of the properties and could reduce the need for travel. Finally, the imagery was critical documentation that needed to be provided to contractors carrying out maintenance or remediation work at the sites.  

However, DFO was faced with serious technical challenges in leveraging their imagery assets: 

  • The sheer volume of multi-terabyte imagery datasets made it impractical to manually sift through the imagery.   
  • Providing property-specific information and documentation to contractors for purposes of maintenance or remediation work through a request, search, extract and distribute process was very cumbersome and costly in terms of staff time. 
  • DFO’s network infrastructure was not adequate for managing access to the imagery datasets. 

The Approach

MNP worked with DFO to design and develop an application-based solution that solved the technical challenges and enabled DFO to successfully overcome the business challenges. The solution: 

  • Organized all the imagery data into an updatable storage framework; 
  • Provided easy-to-use, seamless access to the imagery data through a map interface without any navigation of file structures; 
  • Enabled data exchange with DFO’s corporate asset management system to allow for properties to be searched for using a configurable query tool with free text search; 
  • Allowed DFO users to publish property-specific engineering and technical documents;  
  • Enabled contractors to view and download technical documentation through a map-based interface; 
  • Allowed self-serve point-and-click extract and download of the imagery data for areas of interest through an intuitive map-based interface and no interaction with the underlying image files 
  • Enabled “change over time” viewing capability by overlaying imagery of multiple vintages and enabling users to control “transparency” of the image layers;   
  • Provided a rich set of map layers using external web services from provincial governments, federal government, local governments, and private sources, such ESRI Base maps; real-time NOAA & Environment Canada Weather data; Bing Imagery 
  • Provided temporary hosting services so that the solution could be deployed and used by DFO without burdening DFO network infrastructure and support.  The system will be migrated to an Azure cloud environment.  

The solution architecture includes: ESRI ArcGIS ServerESRI Image Server Extension (used to serve mosaic imagery – built with Python scripts – and to allow for change over time analysis). The application was developed using the ESRI JavaScript API. It is a HTML 5/JavaScript Compatible, ASP.NET MVC 4 browser-based application. The system was developed using Visual Studio 2012. 

The Result

  • DFO has been able to reduce the number of helicopter charters annually by using the system to conduct “remote” preliminary inspections and to optimize inspection trip routes. The savings from reduced travel significantly exceed the cost of developing the system.   
  • Delivery of the property maintenance program has been enhanced and accelerated through easier sharing of imagery and documentation with contractors.  
  • DFO has been able to deliver its contaminated sites program more efficiently by using the system to identify sites more likely to be contaminated without expensive ground investigations. 

These results have been obtained using MNP’s solution which can be applied to any organization with a large portfolio of remote facilities.