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Going Mobile at U.S. National Arboretum!

Blue Raster developed and launched a new mobile application for The United States National Arboretum, giving scientists and visitors a unique experience and new way of exploring the research grounds. The National Arboretum is a division of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the main in-house research arm of USDA. This mobile app for Apple and Android builds off of the online Botanical Explorer tool (ABE) released in 2012.

One of Washington, D.C’s hidden treasures, the National Arboretum receives over 500,000 visitors annually. Covering over 440 acres and 9.5 miles of roads, this public garden is a living museum and center for major botanical research and public education.

Built using Esri’s AppStudio for ArcGIS, the application is available for free download in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

Arboretum Mobile app

The mobile app allows users to locate themselves on the grounds, easily find information about ongoing exhibits, as well as locate visitor services such as parking, restrooms and water fountains. Roam the grounds freely or take advantage of many pre-defined tours sized just right for the time you have, complete with individual stops, photos and descriptions.

For those looking to dig even deeper, individual plants records are displayed on the map and searchable by Name or Accession Number, and extensive scientific data are included for much of the collection.

Arboretum Mobile app

Whether an avid explorer, a researcher or a first-time visitor, this interactive mobile application goes beyond the paper map to offer a unique experience for all users to investigate and learn more about the Arboretum than ever before.

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

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