Distinguished Achievement Award 2011

Distinguished Achievement Award, Melony Barrett

The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes significant contributions to the Survey in the recent past. Typically, a specific event triggers the nomination. The 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient is Melony Barrett for her (now) prize-winning revision of the Illinois Oil and Gas Resources (ILOIL) map application.

The original ILOIL map service was released in February 2004. It provided easy access to more than 180,000 Oracle database records to support research, exploration, and production of oil and gas reserves in the Illinois Basin. ILOIL quickly became a must-have service for oil and gas developers of projects in Illinois and led to new funding opportunities for the ISGS.

However, because of advancements in Internet capacity and computing technologies, the ArcIMS software driving the map was increasingly showing its age. Further, Esri had ceased support for ArcIMS, leading to the potential situation in which, were ArcIMS to fail, popular map services such as ILOIL and its companion, Illinois Water and Related Wells (ILWATER), would simply cease to function. Nonetheless, as late as spring 2011, ILOIL was critiqued by a master’s in GIS class at Penn State, which gave it high marks for usability even though it was showing its age.

Upon her return to the ISGS after working for the Illinois State Water Survey, Barrett accepted the challenge to transition ILOIL from ArcIMS to ArcGIS and to perform custom programming to enhance the web application with new capabilities. ILOIL 2.0 was released on September 28, 2011. While keeping all the former oil and gas content and all previous dynamic map capabilities, Barrett also rolled out new features that enabled

  • printing and sharing of customized map areas;
  • quick download of data within a customized area;
  • sophisticated data queries;
  • the ability to find specific wells, oil fields, counties, and locations; and
  • the use of customized base maps.


ILOIL 2.0 received strong praise from the Oil and Gas Section staff and rave reviews from oil and gas developers when demonstrated at industry meetings. Web usage metrics show that the old ILOIL was all but abandoned as soon as the new ILOIL was made available. Correspondingly, visits to ILOIL 2.0 increased from 1,000 per month in October 2011 to almost 4,000 per month in October 2012.

Through Barrett’s efforts, ILOIL has a new life and is able to support more sophisticated oil and gas (and other) research within Illinois. Not only has this fact been proven by the web statistics, but it is also evident in the increase in data sales documented by the Geological Records Unit for oil and gas records. Check it out yourself from our web page.

Barrett receives a plaque that reads, “2012 Distinguished Achievement Award: Melony Barrett, in recognition of your significant contributions to the improvement of the ILOIL web application for the benefit of industries and the people of Illinois.”

In addition to her plaque, Barrett’s name was added to the permanent plaque in the Natural Resources Building, and she received a monetary award to be used for work purposes.