Last week at the Hasting Natural Reserve in Monterey County, IGIS joined forces with The Wildlife Society Western Section for a workshop on drone mapping for wildlife biologists. Over three days, 25 participants learned about drone technology, the science behind mapping with drones, regulations at both the federal and state levels, flight operations, data processing and analysis, and 360 drone photography. The workshop was hugely successful.
The workshop once again proved the value of collaboration. The Hastings Natural History Reservation, a UC Berkeley field station under the UC Natural Reserve System, was a superb location for the workshop, and Resident Director Vince Voegeli took good care of us. IGIS team members Sean Hogan, Andy Lyons and Jacob Flanagan, provided the core of the technical material building upon earlier workshops include last year's DroneCamp. Steve Goldman, UAS Coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) spoke about the use of drones in CDFW including their recently finalized regulatory policies and procedures. Steve Earsom from the US Fish and Wildlife Service recorded a similar presentation for participants. Professor Emeritus David Bird from McGill University educated and entertained the audience with several presentations about UAVs in wildlife research over his long and distinguished career. All of this was put together by TWS Western Section Workshop Coordinator and master planner, Ivan Parr.
We are looking forward to more drone mapping workshops and love the collaborative model that combines institutions, technical backgrounds, and applications. Our next multi-day drone workshop will be another offering of DroneCamp coming this summer. Stay tuned for an announcement in the near future.
Earlier this month, IGIS held another two-day workshop on using drones for agriculture and land management. As with previous workshops, the material included drone technology, safety and regulations, principles of remote sensing, mission planning, flight operations, and data analysis. Although the winds were too strong on the first day to fly, we couldn't have asked for nicer weather the second day and everyone got to try to their hand at the flight controller.
We were also quite fortunate that the timing coincided with DREC's Farm Smart program. Farm Smart is a winter educational outreach program at DREC which caters to 'snowbirds' who descend upon the Imperial Valley from all over the country each winter to enjoy the pleasant weather. For six weeks, Farm Smart organizes half-day visits to the center including presentations, cooking lessons and a tractor tour of the center. Sean Hogan gave presentations to three Farm Smart groups on their farm wagons, explaining the how modern drones work and are being used to monitor crop health and growth. The local paper, The Imperial Valley Press, covered the day and wrote a story that appeared the following day.
We were especially pleased to have a good contingent of workshop participants from Mexicali across the border. At a time when the headlines are filled with talk about walls, it was heartening to see the great potential for cross-border collaboration in ag technology. Many of the participants were from the Faculty of Engineering at La Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, where they are working on developing new sensors and navigation systems. Another group of participants came from the Imperial Irrigation District, whose many responsibilities includes monitoring hundreds of miles of irrigation canals.
From our perspective, the value of workshops goes well beyond the development of technical skills and knowledge. We love to hear about different applications of spatial technologies, and bring together diverse audiences with different areas of expertise and interests. These are the core ingredients of innovation and collaboration, which is the essence of Cooperative Extension. From this perspective, the DREC workshop was not only a great success in teaching a couple dozen people how to fly drones, but will continue to yield benefits that we can hardly anticipate.
- Author: Robert Johnson
I recently attended the Pacific Research Platform Science Engagement Workshop hosted by CITRIS and Calit2 at UC Merced. The PRP is a "data freeway" currently being developed by researchers at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley to connect the major research universities and other research institutions on the west coast with the goal of sharing large datasets and computational resources at speeds of 10-100 Gbps.
The focus of the workshop were a number of digital archaeology projects that were either already using the PRP architecture or had the potential to do so. It was quite interesting to see the efforts being undertaken to preserve at-risk heritage sites using drone imagery, 3D scans of artifacts and 360° virtual reality imagery. All of these techniques produce massive datasets (often several terabytes) which require extensive post-processing and therefore are exactly the type of projects that the PRP was designed for.
After the presentations, we headed over to UC Merced's new WAVE (Wide-Area Visualization Environment) facility to check out some of the virtual reality imagery that had been discussed. The WAVE consists of twenty 4k 3D monitors arranged in a parabolic curve to create an immersive VR environment. We saw several incredibly detailed image sets of archaeological sites in Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Belize that had been processed and were being served through the PRP architecture. The effect was quite impressive, it really was the next best thing to being at the actual site.
All in all, this was a real eye-opening workshop that gave a compelling picture of the future of sharing and visualization of Big Data.
- The HALO Trust Clearing landmines with Google Earth Pro
- Jane Goodall Institute
- Appalachian Mountaintop Removal
- Chief Almir and the Surui Mapping indigenous culture in Google Earth and monitoring the Surui Carbon Project with Open Data Kit
- WWF & Eyes on the Forest Mapping forests and wildlife ranges in Sumatra with Google Maps Engine