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National Geographic Society

A Look at the Ohio River: Past, Present, and Future

Ohio River

Image is courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. The satellite image captured March 2018 flooding at the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash rivers.

Blue Raster partnered with The National Geographic Society, Lenfest Institute, and seven nonprofit newsrooms on a project entitled, Good River: Stories of the Ohio. The Ohio River runs 981 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, where it joins the Mississippi. It provides drinking water for five million people, and is also a thoroughfare of business, supporting jobs and communities. But it is also commonly cited as the most polluted river in the United States. For this project, PublicSource and six other participating newsrooms are producing a series of stories about the environment, economy and culture of the Ohio River watershed.

Good River Newsroom Partners

Ohio River StoryMap

To give readers a sense of how big the Ohio River watershed is, Blue Raster created a series of map graphics for the site’s landing page. The maps touch-upon topics including population concentration and impaired waterways. To create the maps, our team used data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and leveraged ArcGIS Pro to style the map graphics.

In the series, journalists share the beauty of the Ohio River and threats facing the region. To take readers on an interactive tour of the Ohio River, Blue Raster produced a StoryMap called Highlights of the Ohio for the project launch. The StoryMap features points of interest along the river and the watershed region.

The Good River News Partners will be publishing multiple stories from November 2019 through January 2020. To follow along with the project and share stories or questions, text OHIO to 412-528-6575. Additionally, you can follow #OhioRiverStories on social media.

Good River: Stories of the Ohio is a series about the environment, economy, and culture of the Ohio River watershed, produced by seven nonprofit newsrooms. To see more, please visit


To learn more about StoryMaps, you can start here.

National Geographic Fieldscope: Tools for Citizen Science

Blue Raster worked with the National Geographic Society to develop FieldScope, a mapping and analysis tool that puts data visualization and analysis into the hands of people participating in citizen science projects. The application focuses on projects with geospatial data, called “community geography” projects. Members of the public participate in data collection and analyze the data for geographic patterns.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the application enables any organization working with citizen scientists to quickly and easily create a FieldScope project that will store their data online and analyze it using graphs and other visualizations. By combining traditional hands-on data collection with web-based mapping, users can rapidly deploy, analyze, and share their data with others. It also provides a unique educational tool that enables students and classrooms to upload field data and view it in relation to their peers and the scientific community.

Said Daniel Edelson, National Geographic’s vice president for education, “Community Geography is a ‘killer app’ for teaching young people how to reason about geography. Students get to observe firsthand how factors vary with location and to learn from the data of others about how different places are connected.”

National Geographic FieldScope - Nitrates

FieldScope was created using Adobe Flex and Flex API for ArcGIS Server. To get started with FieldScope and learn more about the project, visit the National Geographic FieldScope website.

LandScope America

LandScope America is an online resource for the land-protection community and the public. Developed in collaboration by NatureServe, the National Geographic Society, and numerous partner organizations, LandScope America is designed to increase the pace and effectiveness of conservation action and investment throughout the United States. Blue Raster has contributed a unique mapping system to Landscope designed using ArcGIS server 9.3.1, Flex API, and Bing maps to enable decision makers, policy directors, and landowners to set and redefine their own conservation priorities. The aerial and satellite images allow conservationists at all levels to interact and relate with the American landscape. The ultimate goal of Landscope is not to create a new set of conservation priorities but to highlight and reveal important aspects of existing plans and priorities. For more information regarding LandScope please visit

LandScope America