Our Work

Blue Raster helps you tell your story through interactive
mapping technology. Make your message clear, exciting,
and user-friendly for both mobile and web platforms.

Forest

Saving Wilderness Areas with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

African elephants

At the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), staff are using the Global Forest Watch MapBuilder platform to show their global impact. WCS works to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 16 priority regions. Their new MapBuilder platform is a powerful mapping tool for analyzing data in priority conservation areas.

WCS’ platform combines the use of remote sensing and GIS to visualize and monitor top priority regions for conservation. Through a combination of interactive mapping, data visualizations, and analytical reports, the platform provides staff with access to information on the current state of WCS protected areas around the world.

WCS' goal is to conserve the world's largest wild places in 16 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world's biodiversity.

The platform incorporates a breadth of data on priority landscapes and sea- and coastal- scapes (known as “scapes”). In addition, it visualizes key project areas where WCS is working to have a conservation impact on species. By centralizing this data all on one platform, users can visualize overlap and patterns. For example, staff can overlay forest fragmentation, infrastructure development, and conservation areas to quickly see if wildlife movement is blocked between and within protected areas. This is especially important in Africa, where species like elephants, giraffes, and zebras travel long distances between wet and dry seasons to survive.

WCS Mapbuilder Platform

In addition to the data on the platform, the site also contains powerful analytics powered by MapBuilder’s custom functionality. Through a unique workflow built by our two teams, WCS can connect their API with the Global Forest Watch API to return time-series statistics within the application. This enables users to run specialized analyses to answer questions such as:

  • Which protected areas have experienced the greatest forest disturbance in recent years?
  • How have species population trends changed over time?
  • Where are the last unbroken swaths of intact forest?
Visualizing Results

WCS can also visualize their impact. For example, thanks to conservation efforts, Nouabalé Ndoki National Park is free from logging and contains no roads within its borders. The park covers more than 4,000 square kilometers of contiguous rainforest and is a stronghold for iconic species including forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzees.

 

 

WCS’ platform is built with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, ArcGIS Enterprise, the Global Forest Watch API, and Google Earth Engine.

Check out the WCS MapBuilder platform today!

Data to Decisions with the Jane Goodall Institute

Working from the inside out, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) has notoriously worked for decades to protect the lives of Chimpanzees and other extraordinary wildlife throughout Africa. Blue Raster was elated to get the opportunity to work with JGI to create the Western Tanzania Forest Monitoring Dashboard, connecting communities and data to manage forests and habitats in Tanzania.

"There's no way we can even attempt to save these precious Gombe chimpanzees unless we could improve the lives of the people living around that last little oasis of forest."

-Jane Goodall

Wildlife throughout Africa are depleting due to loss of habitats, illegal poaching, disease, and illegal pet trade, but the Chimpanzees have been hit with some of the most dramatic losses in the last hundred years. Since 1994, the Jane Goodall Institute has focused on Community Centered Conservation, encouraging villages to participate in land use planning. The Forest Monitoring Dashboard was designed to use information collected by locals, evaluate if the monitoring efforts were effective and provide alerts immediately for action.

To create this application, Blue Raster worked with the Open Data Kit (ODK), which JGI has been using since 2010 for on-the-ground GPS Data collection. Locations of Sawmills, Wildlife Traps, and bullet cartridges are just some of things that monitors are looking for to alert Village Government and Park Chiefs of illegal activity.

Using ArcGIS Online, we began to create data services for use in the Dashboard. From the GPS Points came Patrol Paths, and from Patrol Paths came Village Participation. Within the Dashboard, each village can see how their monitoring effort relates to the surrounding communities, as well as determine the variety of threats and wildlife encountered, and explore images taken from each location.

After the completion of the Dashboard, Blue Raster traveled to Kigoma, Tanzania to present with Dr. Jane Goodall to the Regional Commissioners from Kigoma and Katavi regions. We worked with them one-on-one to understand the technology, how it could benefit them, and ways which it could be improved. This trip was one of the farthest from home, and one of the most rewarding. We then had to ask ourselves, what's next for protecting these animals? Can we use Survey 123 for seamless integration with the Esri GIS Suite? What about the use of Drones to detect forest threats? Our work continues.

Protecting Indigenous & Community Lands With LandMark

Blue Raster is pleased to work with the World Resources Institute (WRI) on a recent initiative to release new datasets and tools on LandMark– an online, global platform providing maps on Indigenous and Community Lands. The new analysis features and data focus on measuring the impacts Indigenous Peoples have on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Landmark Tree Cover Loss Analysis

LandMark Tree Cover Loss Analysis

According to a recent study, Indigenous Peoples and local communities manage at least 24% (54,546 MtC) of the total carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests, a sum greater than 250 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global air travel in 2015. Additionally, Indigenous Lands that are legally recognized experience rates of deforestation that are two to three times lower than non-tenure secure lands, according to Peter Veit, director of WRI’s Land and Resource Rights Initiative.

“The new data and analysis features on LandMark take the platform to a new level by not just showing the presence and legal situation of indigenous and community lands, but also their specific contributions to protecting the environment and the threats that they face from outside pressures such as deforestation, concessions, infrastructure development, and more.”

Katie Reytar, a research associate with WRI’s forest program.

Now, anyone can calculate the amount of tree cover loss in specific Indigenous and Community Lands on-the-fly, and learn more information including land cover composition and tree cover density. Additional datasets on the site include:

Landmark Custom Analysis

  • Intact Forest Landscape and Soil Organic Carbon
  • Pressures, including Mining and Oil Palm concessions, and Major dams
  • Land Cover & Change, including annual Tree cover loss and gain all available on a global scale at 30m x 30m resolution

To build the updated site, Blue Raster harnessed the power of ArcGIS Online, an entirely web-based mapping platform that allows organizational access to datasets. By leveraging ArcGIS Online, WRI can add, remove, or edit maps in a matter of minutes and publish their changes instantaneously.

Blue Raster also leveraged WRI’s Global Forest Watch MapBuilder application template to overhaul the design of the map. The map features an improved user-friendly navigation and analysis pane. The MapBuilder template allows anyone with an ArcGIS Online account to turn custom maps into interactive web applications. As part of the project, additional functionality was imported into the MapBuilder core, all of which is formally written in the documentation for anyone to add their own customizations to the template.

See LandMark’s new tools and datasets at www.landmarkmap.org.

Keeping Trees Green with DDOT

Blue Raster and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) worked together to create and launch a mobile-friendly DC Tree Watering Application. Keeping trees green in our city is a full time job for contractors, but their efforts can be significantly augmented by community involvement and the public’s willingness to water trees during the hot, dry summer months. The first two years of a planted tree’s life are critical, and every watering event increases the survival rate of the trees.

The application is powered by spatial data services hosted by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) ArcGIS Server, and a webmap in ArcGIS Online that can be easily updated or customized by DDOT in the future. A story map is also included that gives further information about each of the tree types in DC. Watering events or reports that trees need help are recorded by the application and used by DDOT to determine which trees may need additional attention. The option to upload a photo of people caring for their trees will let the community show DDOT how much they appreciate their urban canopy as well as people’s willingness to help keep our trees happy and healthy for generations to come.

Photo of Mayor Muriel BowserMayor Muriel Bowser launched the new DC Tree Watering Application during her recent Ward 6 community walk. “We are committed to embracing smart technology across city government, and with the launch of the new DC Tree Watering App we are encouraging all District residents to help support our urban forestry,” said Mayor Bowser. “Watering is the easiest and most affordable way for residents to help, and this app will allow us to coordinate our efforts.” 

Check out the DC Tree Watering Application, find your house, and see if there’s a tree in need outside that could use your help!

 

 

Discover Cambodia’s Watersheds and Ecosystems with WESTool

Blue Raster is proud to announce a partnership with Winrock International that has resulted in a completely redesigned Watershed Ecosystem Services Tool (WESTool), allowing users to explore the interaction of ecosystem services, land uses and socioeconomic factors across Cambodia’s landscapes. By combining advanced science with intuitive maps and tools, the WESTool offers valuable information at the local, regional and national scale to support decision makers and land managers who wish to understand and balance the value of remaining forests with development goals.

The WESTool estimates land use change, carbon stocks, greenhouse gas emissions, sediment and nutrient loss, changes in river water quality, impacts on biodiversity, population, access to market, and general agricultural production data at the national and local levels in Cambodia. This provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about the the impacts of land use change on forest ecosystem services, people and the economy in Cambodia. The tool provides for a more comprehensive understanding of the implications of land management decisions by offering information on both the historical impacts of land use change and the current value of ecosystem services.

As part of this project, Blue Raster redesigned an existing application using modern JavaScript and HTML frameworks, integrated openpyxl to create a custom summary analysis excel file based on user-specified areas, and optimized existing web services using Esri’s ArcGIS for Server to achieve a fast and responsive web experience.

“As the lead developer of the WESTool for Winrock I’m incredibly grateful to have partnered with Blue Raster on the development of the WESTool.  It is rare to have a team of developers that both have the technical chops to get the job done and the creative vison to take your idea and make them a reality.  Thanks BR!”

– Michael Netzer, Program Officer, Winrock  

Be sure to check out the interactive mapping application today!


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