Geographic information systems (GIS) and related technologies are active tools in addressing environmental and hydrologic problems. The application of spatial methods to environmental and hydrologic problems has been supported by the rapid development of computer systems, software, and the internet. The present computing environment has become increasingly dynamic and the use of spatial methods to address local issues has been rapidly growing.
The fields of environmental studies and hydrology have long been active areas for the development of standard guides and practices. ASTM has been active in the development of standards for site characterization, modeling of surface and groundwater systems, and the application of statistical and geostatistical techniques. Standards related to spatial data are more recent. These include the content of digital spatial data and procedures for capturing and recording surface location and elevation. Work has also been done on defining characteristics for particular sets of data in the United States. This includes developing base data layers and classification schemes for some thematic layers. Some work has been done on analysis methods.
The use of spatial methods to address site-specific issues will be assisted by further development of the standards process in this dynamic environment. Data management, data integration, and data quality are common issues in this environment. Common methods, practices, or guides that address these issues will assist in the application of spatial methods to site-specific issues.