Weekend Server Maintenance - November 30th & December 1st

Weekend Maintenance

This is an incredibly boring update - but we wanted to give you plenty of advance warning.  Starting at midnight on Friday, November 29th and extending until midnight on Sunday, December 1st - there will be intermittent access to 

If you're familiar with our terms - our normal maintenance window is from 12pm to 3pm on Sunday nights...but we need this extra time to safely and securely upgrade the servers that power CSDatum and our other software.

We chose this weekend because it's typically a very slow time for our site - but if this causes any particular hardship for you, please contact me directly and we'll figure something out.  We promise not to spill any gravy on your data and everything will be running by Monday morning.

Thanks for your patience and understanding...and enjoy the holiday!



New map overlays from DEP, PennDOT, FEMA, SRBC, USGS and more.

New Overlays

If you're familiar with the fantastic open data portal for Pennsylvania (PASDA); we now have the ability to display most of the data found there...directly in CSDatum!  But it's not just limited to PASDA information, we can display almost any WMS layer that has been published online. 

What's WMS, you might ask?  I'm firmly entrenched in the anti-acronym camp (AAC), but I support this one.  A Web Map Service (WMS) is a widely supported format for mapping and GIS data.  Which means it's a very easy way for PennDOT to share their traffic count information - or PA DEP to provide impaired stream data...and display it alongside your own stormwater mapping in CSDatum.  The WMS standard has been around for a long time - but for various reasons, we decided to update our service to include it.

Here's how it works.

Click on the familiar 'Overlay' icon on your map legend - which up until now, housed your static GIS files (think of parcel & zoning maps - manually clipped down and uploaded into our program).

Once it expands - you will see a new option list, very similar to this.


Click on any one of the new layers - and wait for it to load.  In this example, I turned on DEP's Integrated Attaining layer.

This will turn on the mapping for the entire state - and the layer is updated and maintained by DEP as they make changes.  No more manual clipping and uploading!  If you click or tap on a stream segment - you will see whatever information they've stored with that point or line.

Please note - we cannot control the 'style' of the mapping; meaning the color, symbols and thickness are dictated by others. We simply pass them through, as-is.

Here's another interesting example, SRBC's Topo Wetness Index.  Several of you had requested this overlay this summer - and here it is!


We can also display PEMA's 2018 aerial imagery - which is currently available for Adams, Cumberland and York Counties.

This is significant - because when many of you zoomed in, you were blasted with clouds or blurred imagery from our vendor Mapbox. No more!


For example, check out this street in SW York County.

But toggle on the PEMA 2018 layer.....and see the difference in clarity.

This imagery will NOT contain any road labels - but it's obviously a significant improvement. As PEMA continues to fly & photograph the rest of PA, we will make it available in CSDatum.  You can read more about their progress here.


You can also toggle on several layers at once - for example, here's the Fish & Wildlife Service Wetlands map over the USGS Contour Mapping and our Mapbox imagery.


Here's the full list of WMS layers in CSDatum
NWQMC Water Quality Sites - Streams
PennDOT Traffic Counts
PennDOT State Roads
PennDOT Local Roads
PennDOT Counties
PennDOT Engineering Districts
PennDOT Municipalities
PennDOT School Districts
PennDOT Bridges
PennDOT Rail Lines
PennDOT Drain Pipes
PennDOT TIP projects
DEP Streams CH.93 Existing Use
DEP Integrated NonAttaining
DEP Integrated Attaining
DEP Water Resources
DEP Streams CH.93 Designated Use
FEMA Flood Hazard Area
PAMAP Program 3.2ft Digital Elevation Model
SRBC Topo Wetness Index
PEMA Imagery - 2018
Univ. of Vermont Landcover - 2013
USGS Topoquad - 1983
USFWS Wetlands
USGS Contours
US Census Bureau Zip Codes
US Census Bureau Urbanized Areas - 2010
NOAA Water Quality Observations

We can control availability at a client level - so if you'd like a layer removed from your account...or even better, if you know of another WMS layer you'd like added - please let us know.

And don't worry, all of your existing 'Overlays' are still there.  If you'd like any of these removed or updated, again, send me an email and we'll get it taken care of!

Improved location accuracy & updated Terms of Service

Geolocation Services

Great news for Android users!  Google recently updated their Android platform - which means that your smartphone or tablet just got 2-3 times more accurate when mapping within a web browser.  Previously, the software was limited to an accuracy of 10 meters or 32 ft.  So if you were on a cellular network (not WIFI) and clicked on the 'Location' button in our map, you could be standing anywhere within the 32 ft. wide blue circle shown below.

Here I am - standing on the curb in front of our Lancaster office (before the update).


But now?  We're down to 3 meters accuracy or just under 10 ft.

See how much smaller that circle is?  That pin is almost exactly where I was standing on West James Street.  The benefits should be obvious - and improving the accuracy of our program is a topic we've discussed with many of you over the years.

As a result - we've added a new option for adding points, lines & polygons...add by location!

To use, simply click or tap into any Layer & Asset in your system.  In this instance, I'm going to map the location of a main water valve.

Tap on the new Location arrow on the menu bar.  This will enable 'High Accuracy' on your phone and you'll likely see a pop-up screen similar to this (you'll want to allow it).

Tap on the familiar "Add" or plus button.  In addition to the blue pin & circle, you should now see a 'Add Point by Location' option at the bottom of your screen.  

Notice the (~10 ft) at the end.  This is your location 'accuracy'.  The pin might be right on top of the manhole, inlet or valve but the web browser is only confident that you're within that 10 foot circle. 

So by tapping the "Add Point at Location" button - I added a new water valve - and all the controls should look familiar at this point.


A few disclaimers:

  • The program is still not to be confused with survey grade GPS mapping (sub-meter) and it's largely dependent on how many satellites your phone/tablet can see.  So if you're standing in front of a large building or under heavy tree cover, results will certainly vary.
  • Sorry Iphone/Ipad users - we're still waiting on Apple to make the same update.  The semi-good news is that you can still use the new feature!  You might even see the same accuracy as your Android peers...we just have no way of reporting it back to you.  Caveat emptor, as they say.
  • By enabling 'High Accuracy' on your device - it's looking for more satellites; which means your battery will drain faster.  Results will vary by device but please take this into consideration if you're going to spend a day in the field. 
  • We're still researching bluetooth GPS recievers, like the Bad Elf Surveyor. These devices can tether to your smartphone via bluetooth and can provide very accurate location signals.  The problem is - until Apple or Google updates their software, we can't access those precise coordinates!  So if you really want sub-meter accuracy, you're better off mapping your points in GPS and importing into CSDatum later.

Updated Terms of Service

Completely switching gears, we're happy to announce that on January 3, 2019 - an updated set of Terms will go into effect. 

Why did we do this?  Well, to be completely honest - we haven't updated them since CSDatum launched back in 2015 and we've learned a lot over the last 4 years.  In a nutshell, we streamlined some of the language and provided additional protection for you, the subscriber, if you wish to cancel your service...or if we ever need to change our pricing structure (it's been $2400/year since we launched and we have no plans to change it). 

All of these term changes were reviewed and approved by our Attorney AND a Solicitor from another municipality.

We realize most people don't want to read the fine print but if you do - here's an early holiday gift:

As always, we welcome your feedback and we're incredibly grateful for all the ideas, support and advice we've been given over the last four years.  Keep it coming!