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Land Use

The Future of 3D Zoning

Building the future of zoning in DC is no easy feat. Blue Raster is currently working with the D.C. Office of Zoning to introduce 3D into a Zoning Map, coming soon.

What can you expect to see? How about something like this:

You like shadows? Maybe see how they change over the day?

How about building heights? They fall inside the building height standards?

Coming soon, in partnership with our friends at the DC Office of Zoning

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!

Helping Secure Land Rights With LandMark

Blue Raster is proud to announce a major update to the LandMark interactive global mapping platform of community and indigenous lands. The original LandMark platform provided unprecedented information about the location of indigenous and community owned lands and the strength of legal protections available to these communities. The latest release builds upon that success by adding new functionality, upgrading back end processes to keep pace with latest technologies, and refreshing the design for an even better user experience. Working closely with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and a 13-member Steering Group, Blue Raster incorporated additional analysis capabilities, redesigned the map layout, added Python scripting to increase processing speeds, and integrated Amazon CloudFront to accelerate application performance.

LandMark Global Platform of Indigenous & Community Lands

We are very pleased to continue working with Blue Raster from the inception of LandMark in 2014 through this latest development phase. Their support has been instrumental in helping us towards our goal of becoming the go-to site for information on indigenous and community land rights globally.

— Katie Reytar, Senior Research Associate, WRI

The map’s new legend and navigation pane provide an intuitive and user-friendly way to explore indigenous & community land maps, country statistics, and legal security for these lands. The updated print function enables users to customize map views and export to a pdf, jpg, or png. Users can also generate location-specific reports by uploading shapefiles or drawing a polygon on the map. These reports include statistics on documentation, identity, and legal recognition of indigenous and community lands. Analysis is performed on the fly and the results can be exported for further study.

The ArcGIS JavaScript API, Highcharts, React JS, Python, and ES6 power the reports and mapping application. Be sure to visit the updated LandMark site today!

Peru Country Profile Page

Field Trial Success: Farming Sustainability With Esri Collector and ArcGIS Online

In 2016, The Proforest Initiative asked Blue Raster for help implementing their vision for an easy-to-use mobile-data-collection application coupled with an online dashboard for analysis and display.  Funded by the Global Forest Watch (GFW) Small Grants Fund, the project empowers Small-Holder palm oil farmers to collect and share information about their land with the ultimate goal of establishing tenancy and becoming RSPO certified. A field trial in Honduras was scheduled for summer, 2016.

Decision making:

After evaluating several possible solutions, Blue Raster and Proforest concluded that Esri Collector for ArcGIS and Survey 123  for mobile data collection along with Web APPBuilder for ArcGIS Online for display and analysis was the best fit for the pilot project.

Blue Raster helped create the mobile surveys by building forms in Spanish and adding GIS data including basemaps and imagery to be used in the field trial and dashboard. Proforest staff stopped by Blue Raster headquarters in Arlington, VA on their way to the field for in depth training and final review of the process before use.

The Proforest Initiative team continued on to Honduras to train Small-Holder farmers and associated staff in how to download, install and use the applications.

Success on the Ground:

The farmers were enthusiastic about their ability to locate their plots on the maps. Where up-to-date satellite imagery was available, the technical team and farmers used it to pinpoint farm boundaries on the app (in the field) and to discuss issues around their lands.

Associated staff and related groups immediately saw the possibilities of using the system to understand and manage deforestation and other sustainability risks.


The next step for 2017 is to scale up the technology and make the tools more widely available to smallholders around the world.

field collected and basemap data displayed on ArcGIS Online Web AppBuilder dashboard

London Zoo and Sustainable Palm Oil

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has devoted its efforts to wildlife conservation in Britain and around the world for over 180 years. At the upcoming Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT14), ZSL will present a new release of their Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT), a project they began two years ago with help from Blue Raster.

The toolkit provides a set of practical tools and information that help stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain monitor and manage the environmental and social risks of palm oil production. An interactive map, created by Blue Raster, allows users to overlay palm oil concessions with relevant environmental data. The upgraded version of this map features new data sets, including:

  • RSPO certified and FoodReg palm oil mills (WRI)concessions_mobile
  • GLAD tree cover loss
  • Intact forest landscapes
  • Peat lands
  • BirdLife Endemic Areas
  • Orangutan habitat
  • Tiger habitat

The map is capable of location search by address, coordinates or decimal degrees and layer search by concession type. It has a responsive design for use on mobile and tablet devices and has been updated with the latest Esri JavaScript, version 4.1. Check out the application here to explore the palm oil industry and learn more about its environmental impacts.

We have worked closely with Blue Raster since 2014 to develop the SPOTT map, bringing together the most relevant data from Global Forest Watch and other platforms, and linking them directly to our corporate transparency assessments… Next year, we are expanding SPOTT to assess companies with operations in other commodities, starting with timber, pulp and paper, so the next phase of development will see even more data and functionality added to the SPOTT map from GFW and elsewhere.

Alexis Hatto, Engagement Manager for ZSL’s Business and Biodiversity Programme


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