Department of Environmental Conservation

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Technology and Data Management

Conservation Innovation Award

Award Recipient

Melissa Albino-Hegeman - Biologist at DEC's Bureau of Marine Resources Office in East Setauket

Summary of Accomplishments

Melissa works in the Bureau of Marine Resources Shellfish Growing Area Classification program that is an important facet in protecting human health and safety from shellfish consumption illnesses. During her short tenure, Melissa has brought technical wizardry in several areas of the program, including simplifying data collection efforts; providing more cohesive and accessible data management; and providing staff with innovative Geographic Information System (GIS) tools, templates, and training. Melissa has worked with staff from DEC's Division of Water (DOW) to make local municipal storm water outfall maps available on GIS. Prior to this effort, outfalls could only be located through labor intensive inspections along the shoreline. Similarly, Melissa created a shoreline survey geo-database to provide a tool that enables staff to conduct more targeted shoreline survey inspections while maintaining the survey data in one cohesive and standardized database.

Melissa enlisted partners (DOW) and implemented solutions that have resulted in more accessible data and more efficient use of staff resources. Her work with Google Earth KML files has provided an innovative platform for sharing important public health and regulatory information with outside agencies, user groups, and the general public. Melissa's technical knowledge, vision, and innovation are especially noteworthy in light of the Department's current resource shortages.

By visiting the Google Maps and Earth webpage, you will find the Emergency Shellfish Closure Google Earth (KML) file that was created by Melissa. Viewing this file in Google Earth helps shellfish harvesters identify the most recent shellfish harvest area closures around Long Island and New York City.

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