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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.

Land Use

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

Story Map Delivers #ProtectOurCoast Campaign

In January 2018, the White House proposed opening nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling. On the East Coast, governors are speaking out with concerns about the risks offshore drilling would pose to the coastal environment, economy, tourism, and quality of life. Out of 22 U.S. coastal states, 15 governors stated opposition to drilling. Additionally, over 140 local communities along the Atlantic Coast have passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling, seismic testing, or both.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) launched a public messaging campaign to elevate the voices of local communities opposed to offshore drilling when the previous administration released its proposed drilling plan in 2015, and has continued these efforts in light of the current administration’s plan to reopen the possibility of drilling in the Atlantic. Working in six states throughout the Southeast, SELC has over 70 attorneys and nine offices dedicated to clean water, healthy air, mountains and forests, and coastal protection. A nonprofit organization, they work at all levels of government and with all three branches to strengthen laws, hold government accountable and stop environmental abusers.

For the #ProtectOurCoast campaign, SELC worked with Blue Raster to develop a Story Map outlining the major concerns of offshore drilling in their region. SELC was interested in creating an interactive story-telling tool to better inform communities about the threats of offshore drilling and to drive public comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The Story Map highlights state and local opposition, incompatibility with existing military training areas, impacts of drilling infrastructure, and threats to coastal economies. SELC also draws attention to the region’s abundance of natural resources, including habitat for species like the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, dozens of National Wildlife Refuges, National Seashores, state protected areas and ecologically important marine areas, where a single oil spill would devastate the healthy waters and clean beaches that are critical to wildlife and coastal communities.

Learn more about the risks of Offshore Drilling at the campaign page and Story Map!

 

Working with Blue Raster has allowed SELC to provide users with the ability to learn the core concerns of opening the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling, and the power to interact with the data on their own terms. The assemblage of marine and coastal ecological data, compatibility of military operations, industrial footprints, and community opposition created a set of stories, difficult to communicate through print maps alone. Blue Raster helped SELC transform an ArcGIS Desktop workflow into a multi-faceted geospatial tool with Web App Builder, Story Map Templates and ArcGIS Online. The result-an interactive, engaging experience for users to explore the impacts of the proposed drilling plan by showing what’s at stake for communities, environmental resources, economies, and quality of life along our coast, and how these factors overlap and interplay.

Jovian Sackett, Senior Geospatial Analyst, Southern Environmental Law Center 

Conserve and Protect with The Land Trust Alliance

Since 1982, the Land Trust Alliance has supported conservation by providing its over 1,000 member land trusts with education programs, legal insurance, and a voice in Washington speaking for conservationists. With the Find a Land Trust Map, the Alliance gives individuals around the country a means of identifying local organizations working on conservation.

The Land Trust Alliance set out to update the map with a modern, intuitive user interface while maintaining the previous map’s search and filter functionality. Blue Raster’s design team worked through several rounds of design and conducted user testing to ensure that users would be able to quickly find land trusts in their area. By including key information about protection priorities, acres under protection, and Accreditation status, the map makes it easy to find the right land trust.

Members can update the status and information associated with each Land Trust easily. Blue Raster used the latest technology to grab user submissions daily by running a, automated Lambda script hosted on Amazon Web Services and publishing updates to the data hosted on ArcGIS Online.

 

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.


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