Land Use

Zoning Washington D.C.’s Future

Blue Raster and the DC Office of Zoning (DCOZ) worked together to create the DC Zoning Map of 2016, a mobile-responsive application that incorporates recently adopted DC Zoning Regulations of 2016 in a platform available to the public. The application provides users a rich representation of DC Zoning by color and offers powerful search capabilities, detailed PDF reports for properties, and high quality cartographic outputs. It delivers all the new regulations and maps to consumers accessing the web via a growing variety mobile devices and platforms, and was nominated by for Best Web/Mobile Product of the Year in the inaugural D.C. Innovation Awards.

The launch follows the first major rewrite of Washington D.C. Zoning Regulations since 1958. The modern application allows ease of access for the public who may be curious about their neighborhood’s potential development or proximity to historic sites, while being a valuable resource to residents, developers, and government agencies who want to keep Washington growing and lively while respecting the historic character of the city.

The DC Zoning Application leverages the latest technologies to provide these advanced features to the user. For example, ArcGIS for Server delivers geographic data via map services, and React JS and Backbone JS drive the architecture and sustainability of the code base. The site fully integrates with the government’s existing systems, such as the Interactive Zoning Information System, delivering valuable lot-level data and reports. Customized geoprocessing and vector printing allow users to export stylized, high-quality cartographic maps, while PDFKit produces standardized pdf reports for each property of interest. Sweet Alerts deliver customized messaging throughout the application experience.

Explore Washington D.C. and visit the application today.

NyambiThe new ZR16 zoning map application and the Zoning Handbook generate a greater active interest in zoning by presenting visual data and a lot of content in a clear and concise manner. Blue Raster effectively worked to translate DCOZ’s vision into an application we are all proud of.

– Nyambi A. Nyambi, Chief Technology Officer, District of Columbia Office of Zoning

Greenpeace Indonesia

Blue Raster partnered with Greenpeace and Global Forest Watch (GFW) to help protect one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems: forests. Their threat from fires and deforestation has been characterized by some as one of the worst environmental disasters in recent history. Fires across Indonesia have far-reaching effects on both air pollution and climate change while deforestation depletes the natural forests and changes landscapes for years to come. The Greenpeace Indonesia mapping application fuses the most helpful datasets together and makes them available to the public. Datasets include: detailed concession information including forest cover, fires instances provided by NASA’s Fire Information for Resources Management System (FIRMS), and selected animal habitats. 


Greenpeace Indonesia allows decision makers to accomplish ambitious goals by getting the latest data in the hands of the public: especially in the hands of people who can act on it. The Energy Desk at Greenpeace further describes the mapping app in their post, “Investigation: Mapping Indonesia’s fires and logging rights”. Additionally, Channel NewsAsia suggests in their publication, “Greenpeace Indonesia launches map to track haze-causing fires,” that the map can be used as evidence in court — this is certainly a game changer.

This application uses the ArcGIS JavaScript API, React JS, and Flux, creating a reliable repository of data that can be viewed and downloaded within the application. Many Indonesian residents are able to have access to data for the first time, and hold land owners responsible for deforestation and illegal fires that have repercussions across Southeast Asia.


Since the catastrophic fires last year, Indonesia’s president has made commitments to ending the destruction of the carbon-rich peatlands but this will only be possible with free access to up-to-date information on land use and land tenure. In 2011, the Indonesian government promised a single mapping platform to publish this data – One Map – but it now may not see the light of day until 2019 at the earliest. We can’t wait that long, which is why we’ve compiled and released the most comprehensive concession maps available. We worked closely with the team at Blue Raster to combine our data with several other map layers provided by GFW, including fire and deforestation alerts. Together, these data sets provide an essential tool for producers, traders, consumer companies and researchers to monitor activity on the ground in near-real time and – cruicually – see who controls the land on which fires and deforestation occur. Out hope is that the Kepo Hutan maps will spur the government into action and set the standard for the official maps which are so desperately needed.

-KiKi Taufik, Coordinator of Greenpeace Indonesia’s Forests Campaign

Take a Dip in The Texas Water Explorer

Blue Raster has long worked with The Nature Conservancy to tackle complex environmental problems using GIS analysis and expertise. The Texas Water Explorer does just that: transforming Texas water data into interactive, visual maps so that anyone can understand it at a glance.

The first step in creating the Texas Water Explorer was to create a dashboard, giving detailed background information to users learning about all of the water bodies and conservation indicators available. Read about each of the indicators and datasets, such as River Fragmentation or Sector Water Use, or explore each of the geographies across Texas from the Colorado River Basin to the Gulf Coast Aquifer.


Once in the explorer, users can view and compare data, for example, River Flow Alteration and Presence of Invasive Species. Indicators have pop-ups powered by Highcharts showing trends in data over time.  Export tools allow the creation of custom reports that can be downloaded as Excel and taken on the go. The Texas Water Explorer uses the ArcGIS JavaScript API and Knockout.js to deliver the large amount of data supplied by The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy has called the Texas Water Explorer a “one-stop shop on the current state of water in Texas”, an essential component to informed decision making that will lead to healthy communities, healthy environments, and a thriving economy now and in the future. (TNC Launches Texas Water Explorer)

By 2050, our population is set to double to 54 million and every region in Texas is in search of water to support its fast-growing communities. It’s essential to arm decision-makers with the best information available so they can make sound choices and be good stewards. This tool provides important data that can help Texans support healthy communities, a healthy environment and a thriving economy now and in the future.

-Laura Huffman, Texas State Director for The Nature Conservancy

Turning Concept into Reality: Green Infrastructure

Water is one of the world’s most pressing challenges.  Faced with the opportunity to find better water solutions for global stakeholders, the Earth Genome, backed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), enlisted the help of Blue Raster and Arizona State University to create the Green Infrastructure Support Tool (GIST). The interactive web mapping application provides high-level wetland-restoration site analysis and portfolio prioritization to address water scarcity and was recently launched at GreenBiz 2016.

The tool employs criteria-based screening via spatial data and end-user inputs, enabling end users to weigh options across the region and compare relative value and costs. Financial metrics include net present value, area cost curves, and environmental return on investment. Together, they help determine the best “bang for buck” restoration sites to provision water across an entire basin. The application combines environmental data such as wetland areas, biodiversity and land cover with business initiatives that consider both investment and costs for various land-cover restoration options, resulting in a truly spatial decision support system.

GIST Site Definition

Key in the development of GIST was the ability to present data in an easy-to-use way and to incorporate millions of points of disparate environmental data. As a result, corporations, governments, water authorities, resource engineers or anyone interested in potential water restoration are able to create their own development sites with corresponding financial analysis. The reporting engine supports comparing multiple sites, determining the optimal green infrastructure investment, based on landscape characteristics and hydrologic modeling.

GIST Analysis


The ability to create these custom reports is made possible by on-the-fly statistical/histogram calculations leveraging the ArcGIS Image Server extension. The GIST also uses the ArcGIS JavaScript API and Highcharts to supply the data and charting throughout the application.

“Blue Raster was a terrific partner. The Earth Genome exists to unite data, science, visualization and end users to solve some of the planet’s most wicked problems. Blue Raster was essential in pulling off GIST, what we believe is a breakthrough tool that puts environmental data, translated via world class science, into the hands of real decision makers. I’m most pleased with the work Blue Raster did on the visual interface. The tool is elegant yet simple: anybody can use it to find the opportunities that make most financial sense for their organization.”

Earth Genome – Glen Low
Co-Founder, The Earth Genome


Securing Land Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Communities

LandMark Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands

Blue Raster partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and a 13 member Steering Group to create LandMark, the first-ever attempt to build a global repository of community land rights data. Launched on November 10, the LandMark website is the world’s first interactive global platform to map these lands.

According to WRI, up to 65% of land in the world is held by indigenous peoples and local communities, but only 10% is legally recognized as belonging to them. LandMark aims to help these communities publicly document their land boundaries, particularly in countries where there are no systems currently in place to do so.


Blue Raster created the site using WordPress, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS for Server, and the JavaScript API.

“Blue Raster has been a great asset to the World Resources Institute and our partner institutions in designing and developing the LandMark mapping platform. Especially valuable was their proficiency in creating a flexible product with a big-picture view towards future growth and development, as LandMark is a project that is constantly evolving,” said Katie Reytar, Senior Research Associate at WRI.

The site allows users to explore maps at both the community and national level, with the goal of helping key audiences including:

LandmarkOn-iPhone-v2LandmarkOn-iPhoneCompanies who are interested in identifying areas for potential investments and want to reduce company risk and costs associated with acquiring contested land.

Community members and groups supporting them who are looking for a platform to proactively document their land publicly.

Governments, to better recognize community land rights and encourage fellow public officials to take action based on examples of other nations.

General public, to gain a better awareness of the extent of land rights issues worldwide.

To learn more about the project and see the platform in action, check out WRI’s project page.

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