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GIS

Sustainable World Conference in Geneva: Collaborating for a better world

The GIS for a Sustainable World conference in Geneva, Switzerland is an opportunity to develop long-term and collaborative relationships with global organizations interested in corporate sustainability and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). As a proud a sponsor of this Esri and UNOSAT event, we had the chance to share some of our GIS work that is making an impact on global sustainability efforts. This year’s conference theme focused on applying GIS to people, planet, prosperity, and peace, and how intelligent maps and apps can accelerate efforts to implement the SDGs.

GIS for a Sustainable World

Sustainable Business Panel Session

The Sustainable Business panel session provided an opportunity for participants to hear from experts in specific thematic areas and discuss issues pertaining to their use of GIS. During this session, Michael Lippmann presented our work with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) funded India Water Tool. This tool helps users understand their water risks and plan interventions for water management in India. Other presenters in the panel included Tijs Lips from Bunge, Adam Romo from ISEAL Alliance, and Michael Marus from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Interactive Breakout Sessions

In addition to hearing about sustainability challenges and successes from the many global organizations in attendance, Blue Raster Program Manager Phil Satlof had the opportunity to participate in a World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored Map-a-Thon. The “Map-A-Thon for Good” event gave participants a chance to learn important workflows for data validation, all while creating an open data set to share with the humanitarian community and beyond.Activity at the GIS for a Sustainable World ConferenceWe also participated in the interactive field GIS mobile data collection exercise. In this session, attendees got hands-on experience using the latest in Esri field mobility software. The Exploration Team collected data from around the conference venue, then viewed it on the Operations Dashboard.

Additionally, the Blue Raster team visited with clients at the World Health Organization (WHO) and enjoyed the sites around Geneva. Before heading home, the team visited Chamonix and Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps. GIS for a Sustainable World

Blue Raster sightseeing in Geneva

To read more about the conference, visit the information page.

 

Using Drones to Advance Turfgrass Science at Green-Wood Cemetery

Last month, Blue Raster’s drone capabilities took flight. In a new initiative with Green-Wood Cemetery, Cornell University, and a group of turfgrass experts from across the United States, Blue Raster is using drones to help advance the science for confronting climate change in an urban landscape.

The issue at hand is the rapid spread of warm-season invasive grass species that impacts the aesthetics of the cemetery. This results in adaptive preventative maintenance practices and high costs to keep the cemetery looking beautiful. The group is studying alternatives and strategies that put Green-Wood on the cutting edge of urban climate change mitigation. This research is also applicable to any urban parks, public gardens, cemeteries and golf courses.

"Turf Guy" Dr. Frank Rossi of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Christopher Gabris from Blue Raster looking at high resolution drone imagery captured the day before

“Turf Guy” Dr. Frank Rossi of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Christopher Gabris from Blue Raster looking at high resolution drone imagery captured the day before

To study the spread of invasive grass throughout the year, Blue Raster flew a series of drone missions over the sprawling 478 acre cemetery. When additional missions fly for comparison, the data capture will provide high quality imagery that will identify invasive grass for measurement and monitoring throughout the year. Visit our Facebook album for more of the amazing aerial pictures.

Green-wood drone pictures

Using Esri’s Drone2Map and ArcGIS Online Web Scenes, Blue Raster was also able to deliver some 3D products, including the iconic gateway entrance and some large mausoleums.

Drone 3D imagery of iconic entrance

Stay tuned for updates on the project, the analysis, and the results of this very exciting turfgrass study!

Habitat and biodiversity in the ‘Urban Century’

This month, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) released “Nature in the Urban Century”, a report on the rising threat that urban growth and the proximity of people to wildlife will have on habitat loss. Dubbed the “urban century,” the report details the challenges of managing urban growth. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 2.4 billion more people in cities than today. That is an urban growth rate “equivalent to building a city with the population of London every seven weeks”!

Urbanization is a leading factor in habitat loss, but better planning and focus on sustainable development can allow for more integration of habitats into cities.

With urban growth and the expansion of cities, protected lands are becoming increasingly close to human development. The study estimates that by 2030, forty percent of protected areas will be within 50 kilometers of a city. These protected areas provide critical carbon storage that can help mitigate climate change.

Blue Raster developed two mapping application for the report. The first shows the impact of urban growth on habitat, protected areas and carbon at the country level. The tabs along the map and the country popups show users how many square kilometers of habitat is lost to urban growth, the current percent and 2030 projected percent increase of protected areas that are adjacent to urban areas, and the carbon loss from expanding cities.

Habitat Story Map

Habitat Story Map

The second map looks at the relationship of urban growth trends and specific protected areas of urban-threatened species. The density of urban-caused habitat loss projected out to 2030 is viewed with existing urban areas, and highlights places where managing protected areas and urban biodiversity near cities is most important.

Habitat Story Map

The Nature in the Urban Century report states that while there’s still time to protect critical habitat even as cities grow, it will take concerted planning. Left unchecked, over the next two decades urban growth will threaten more than 290,000 km2 of habitat, an area larger than New Zealand. It’s up to local cities, national governments and international institutions to work together to look at the benefits generated by biodiversity and set specific goals for urban conservation efforts.

Click here to view the full report

3D Zoning in Washington D.C.

The Washington, DC Office of Zoning (DCOZ) provides assistance and oversight for the District of Columbia Zoning Commission (ZC) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). DCOZ reviews and accepts applications and enforces zoning criteria. With the help of Blue Raster, robust mapping and GIS tools provide citizens with general understanding and transparency around these criteria, rules and regulations. In 2016, Blue Raster and DCOZ collaborated to create the DC Zoning Map of 2016 and the Historical Zoning Mapping Application. New in 2018, we are excited to announce the next application in the series, the 3D Zoning Map. This new interactive map uses the latest geospatial and 3D technology to provide both residents and developers a tool to navigate and plan the District’s landscape.

DCOZ 3D Zoning image

To assist developers with visualizing what their project will look like against the current landscape, the 3D Zoning Map allows users to delete current buildings, upload new projects, and perform Before & After and Light Study analyses. Using Esri’s ArcGIS API for Javascript, data from DCOZ and the DC Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) is added to a Web Scene. Additionally, users have the ability to view zoning information from the Zoning Handbook and link to their address in the official Zoning Map.

DCOZ 3D Zoning imageThe 3D Zoning Map is an innovative public tool from DCOZ for citizens, developers, and agencies to collaborate and understand the zoning regulations in the nations Capitol.

“Our goal at DCOZ is to always be working towards greater transparency and to be increasing the amount of relevant information we can provide in interesting ways. It is our hope that the 3D Zoning Map will further demystify zoning and land use permitting in the District of Columbia and increase resident’s ability to participate in the process. We are excited to continue our partnership with Blue Raster through the release of the 3D Zoning Map.”  Matthew Holden, Zoning Data Coordinator, Office of Zoning | District of Columbia Government

LOOK UP and take a Skyfie

Ever wonder what people in far off places are seeing at the same time you’re looking up at the sky? On October 18, sky-watchers across the globe can take part in a 24-hour phenomenon by using Look Up’s new app, Skyfie, and share their experiences as they look up at our shared sky.

Working with the Dorothy Jemison Foundation, Blue Raster helped develop the Sky Tapestry 3D Globe for the October 18th Look Up event. Dr. Jemison, spearheading the Look Up event, is a physician, engineer, educator and entrepreneur, and was the first woman of color in the world to go into space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. She was a NASA astronaut for six years before founding her own technology company and is now the current principal of the 100 Year Starship organization.

The app captures expressions of what individuals see and feel and allows participants to see the sky from a different perspective. Images, audio/video, and text about the sky taken in the mobile app will populate the Sky Tapestry globe in near-real time.

The Sky Tapestry is built on Esri’s latest 3D Globe technology. Skyfies from the mobile app populate a Google Firebase database. Blue Raster developed a Node.js script to push records from Skyfie to an ArcGIS Online feature layer, which display on the Globe.

“I believe the impact of looking up at the sky can be as profound as seeing the Earth from space orbit. Especially when it’s a shared, worldwide experience!”  – Dr. Mae Jemison

Download the app for iOS or Android and take part in Look Up! Follow the #LookUpTogether, #Skyfie and #lookuponesky tags on social media for news and updates about this global event.

 

 


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