University of California
Informatics and GIS Program


eBee X Training - North Carolina

eBee X Training

Raleigh, North Carolina

I headed to North Carolina with members of the California Heartbeat Initiative (CHI) last month for formal training on using their eBee X - Sensefly's newest fixed wing drone capable of high-resolution 3D, multispectral and, recently, thermal mapping.

The Crew

The CHI team included Becca Fenwick, Kelly Easterday, James Norris and a few external partners, Jacob Flanagan (Informatics and GIS) and Greg Crutsinger (Scholar Farms).

The Hardware

The Sensefly eBee is a fixed wing drone designed for mapping. In the past, fixed wings were a bit involved and usually required a well experienced pilot. Even with today's automation, this sort of drone can be discomforting for beginners where launching involves slinging it and every landing is a crash landing (eBee and similar) that require a loads of space because it's constantly having to move forward. In contrast, rotary drones like the DJI Phantom can do this from a single point and hover in place.

However, the eBee is one of the more intuitive fixed wing drone we've come by; it's automation abilities surpass even most rotary drones. It does require some initial mission planning, however, given their software's 3d interactivity and built in simulator, it's easy, comforting and, dare I say, fun?! The same is true about the launching and landing - for launch, it's a relatively low effort push forward. The landing is designed on the field laptop, can be aborted anytime and readjustable in real time (landing does require some runway, ideally soft i.e., grass. It is the trickiest bit). Just to further argue how automated and easy to use they are, our eBee did not come with controllers.

The Training

Matt and Daniel were our trainers from Sensefly - a Veteran affiliated with Google X and a GIS/Computer Scientist, respectively. They were well versed and covered the ins and outs of the system, including the software, mission planning, launching and landing and drone piloting (person managing the mission software is considered pilot). While not necessary, this training ensures we understood of every element of the drone's components, software options and became comfortable with it's operation.

Long Term Plan

CHI is looking to use drones for all sorts of remote sensing, mapping 3D, thermal and multispectral. This sort of information will be used to drive hydrological and other environmental models all part of the bigger picture of understanding increasing uncertain climate of tomorrow. For IGIS, this is another step in staying on top of this every growing technology.


Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 11:38 AM

IGIS 2018 in Review

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect back on what we've accomplished and where we've been, so we can see where we're going. 2018 was another good year for IGIS, with a number of notable accomplishments and new initiatives.

2018 was all about the TEAM

Our 5-year Program Review which began in January 2017 wrapped up in early 2018. VP Glenda Humiston wrote in her conclusions from the review, "IGIS is a very important service for academics across UC ANR as well as a bridge for ANR to access cutting-edge geospatial data, tools, science, and research." She indicated that "IGIS should focus on expanding its capacity and reach with drones (both people and equipment)", which we have done.

Our new Drone Technician and Data Analyst, Jacob Flanagan, has streamlined our drone data acquisition and processing workflow, enabling IGIS to significantly increase its capacity for drone services to ANR and its affiliates.

And, of course we gained a new GIS Wunderkind with the birth of Eleanor Johnson!

2018 was all about DRONES

DroneCamp 2018 was a huge success in San Diego. This has become our flagship training event, and one of the most comprehensive short courses on drone regulations, operations, and data analysis found anywhere in the country. This year we almost doubled our capacity by splitting up flight instruction (the instructional bottleneck) across two days, which worked great thanks to amazing support from our local host, the UC San Diego Environmental Health and Safety. Every year our training curriculum improves, and this year's program included visits to the UCSD DroneLab and the Wide Angle Virtual Environment (WAVE) facility. It will be hard to top UC San Diego as a venue (but we'll try in Monterey for Drone Camp 2019!).

Thanks to Jacob's help, this year we captured over 6,500 acres of drone imagery (~2.6T data) all over California. Our largest drone project this year was a massive mapping mission at HREC after the River fire burned over half the property in July. We mapped nearly 3,500 acres in both RGB and infrared to help researchers understand fire dynamics and ecology, and collected a dozen aerial 360s over burned areas. We were able to complete such a large mission in part due to our new fixed-wing eBee drone, which has almost double the flight time of our big quadcopters.

IGIS Drone Flights, 2018

2018 was all about RESEARCH

In addition to the many research projects we support through GIS services and drone data collection, members of the IGIS team were authors on several excellent papers that came out in 2018.

Identification of Citrus Trees from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Imagery Using Convolutional Neural Networks

Visiting graduate student Ovidiu Csillik developed a workflow to detect trees from drone imagery using machine learning in eCognition, with imagery from Lindcove REC.

Csillik, O., J. Cherbini, R. Johnson, A. Lyons and M. Kelly (2018). "Identification of Citrus Trees from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Imagery Using Convolutional Neural Networks." Drones 2(4): 39.

From the Field to the Cloud: A Review of Three Approaches to Sharing Historical Data From Field Stations Using Principles From Data Science

Kelly Easterday's review of digitizing historical data, with a highlight on historical HREC research reports and the use of Machine Learning to pull information from scanned documents.

Easterday, K., T. Paulson, P. DasMohapatra, P. Alagona, S. Feirer and M. Kelly (2018). "From the Field to the Cloud: A Review of Three Approaches to Sharing Historical Data From Field Stations Using Principles From Data Science." Frontiers in Environmental Science 6(88).

Modeling Climate Suitability of the Western Blacklegged Tick in California

This is Shane Feirer's excellent modeling work on Ixodes pacificus (ticks) in CA in collaboration with Prof. Bob Lane and the CA Department of Health.

Rebecca J Eisen, Shane Feirer, Kerry A Padgett, Micah B Hahn, Andrew J Monaghan, Vicki L Kramer, Robert S Lane, and Maggi Kelly (2018) Modeling Climate Suitability of the Western Blacklegged Tick in California. Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 55, Issue 5, 29 August 2018, pp. 1133-1142.

UAVs in Support of Algal Bloom Research: A Review of Current Applications and Future Opportunities

UC Berkeley grad student Chippie Kislik did an excellent review of the use of drones for algal bloom research.

Kislik, C., I. Dronova and M. Kelly (2018). "UAVs in Support of Algal Bloom Research: A Review of Current Applications and Future Opportunities." Drones 2(4): 35.

2018 was all about COLLABORATION

We continued our long partnership with the Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) at UC Berkeley, and the UCANR California Naturalist Program to build the Climate Adaptation Clearinghouse. This flagship project created a one-stop-shop information portal for climate adaptation, led by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research. IGIS developed a custom Story Map template to view climate adaptation stories from around the state, as well as an administrative interface that will allow OPR staff to continue to maintain and update the content.

We also began a new collaboration with the UC Natural Reserve System (UCNRS) and their California Heartbeat Initiative (CHI), involving drone data collection across 10 of the NRS reserves as part of a multi-year, multi-site study on water-soil-vegetation interactions. The results will not only help us understand how California's ecosystems will respond to a changing climate, but we also enhancing the toolkit of data collection and analysis methods.

We partnered for the first time with The Wildlife Society Western Section and NRS Hastings Natural History Reservation to offer a customized version of our DroneCamp curricula tailored for biologists. Complemented by drone pioneers  in wildlife biology, and representatives from the CA Dept of Fish and Game and USFWS, the formula worked extremely well. We like collaborating on intensive multi-day trainings, because it allows us to concentrate on the curricula, meet drone experts from other fields and organizations, and get help with the many moving parts a multi-day training involves. We're please to repeat the Drones for Biologists training in April 2019.

We were also extremely excited to launch a multi-year collaboration with the Karuk Department of Natural Resources and UCANR Specialist Jenny Sowerwine. The project title is a mouthful, "Karuk Agroecosystem Resilience and Cultural Foods and Fibers Revitalization Initiative: xúus nu'éethti – we are caring for it", but the essence is a series of research and capacity building activities by the Karuk tribe on cultural food and land management practices, and environmental monitoring. Our piece will be seven GIS workshops, drone flights, and research support over the next three years. We love the long-term and highly interdisciplinary nature of the initiative, and the first two workshops on Story Maps and 360 Photography went great in October 2018. Much more on this in 2019.

The IGIS Service Center continued to expand out our technical portfolio with numerous projects with researchers and staff throughout UCANR and UC. Some highlights include:

  • We created a webapp called the "Waterfowl Tracker" for Maurice Pitesky from UC Davis VetMed, showing real-time estimated waterfowl density in California's Central Valley. Designed to help poultry producers know when wild waterfowl are in their area, the app analyzes satellite data with a machine learning algorithm on a daily basis, and overlays the results with historical NEXRAD radar data and waterfowl habitat. It's a good example of how web GIS can bring the latest science to producers.
  • A dead tree biomass webapp allows you to visualize and download the estimated biomass of trees that died from drought and insect attack in California between 2013 and 2017. Under the hood, this webapp showcases the work of UC Berkeley graduate student Carmen Tubbesing, and is another good example of using technology to bring science to the public.
  • We made numerous enhancements to CalLands, a webapp that highlights land ownership and the distribution of cropland and natural habitat in California at the county and parcel level, for Specialists Luke Macaulay and Van Bustic.

2018 was all about TRAINING

Providing training in GIS, data collection, and data analysis has been at the core of our mission since 2012. Our training program has evolved as technology and needs change, and we continue to refine how we support the UCANR's network in an increasingly data-intensive world (stay tuned for a survey on workshop preferences).

We continue to teach in-person workshops on Introductory GIS, both desktop and web based. 2018 was also the year we officially migrated all our GIS workshop material to ArcGIS Pro - the successor to ArcMap which is going away. It's not that bad! If you'd like some handholding making the transition, see what's coming up on our training page.

Responding to a demand for higher-level GIS skills, we taught workshops on Spatial Data Analysis with R, GIS for Professional Foresters, LiDAR Data Processing, and Drone Technology for Biologists. As more and more people come to the workplace with basic GIS skills from college or grad school, we see the demand for advanced and applied trainings to continue.

Forestry GIS Workshop, Redding CA

We added a new workshop to our portfolio in 2018 - Immersive Visualization with 360 Photography. Our inaugural offering of 360 Photography was for the Karuk Department of Natural Resources, who are looking at 360 photos to accompany an environmental monitoring program. Like other geospatial technologies, 360 hardware and software have advanced by leaps and bounds in the last few years, but there are still many moving parts to using 360 photography effectively for research and extension. It's a lot of work to create a brand new workshop, but the hard work paid off and we see a lot of potential for this moving forward - virtual tours of RECS, bringing ANR clientele to the field, environmental education, etc.

We continue to partner with collaborators in our training programs. In fact, all but one of our workshops 2018 were conducted with partners, including Shasta County UCCE, GreenValley International, The Wildlife Society Western Section, UCSD Environmental Health and Safety, the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility, and the Karuk Agroecosystem Resilience and Cultural Foods and Fibers Revitalization Initiative.

We continued to increase our online support programs, which are growing slowly but surely. We saw a steady pickup in our online office hours, and made extensive use of Zoom for all kinds of Tech Support. We also ventured into webcasting, streaming two workshops on YouTube and Zoom, both which went well and continue to benefit people via the recording. Online training works great for specialized technical topics, and we'll continue to develop these formats in 2019.

2018 was all about SERVICE TO UCANR

Helping tell ANR's story is one of our favorite program areas. California is huge and the work of land grant institutions is inherently complex, but geospatial technologies give us powerful tools to convey the reach and impact we're having. More of this to come in 2019!

We built the UCANR Footprint webapp and underlying data to visualize the academic footprint of Advisors and Specialist in California. The breadth of the our distribution is impressive, but the webapp also reveals areas where more academic staff and funding are needed.

We also designed a new wall map of the UCANR system, showing not just Cooperative Extension offices and RECS but also descriptions of four programmatic components of UCANR and logos of the Statewide Program and Institutes (can you name them all?). Next time you have a question about ANR's work at the local and state level, this is a good place to start. By early 2019, we're hoping every ANR office in the state has a copy of the map.

We continued our participation in ANR tent at the 2018 World Ag Expo talking to visitors about ANR programs and drones in agriculture. The World Ag Expo is one of the highlights of our year, and we'll be back in 2019.

World Ag Expo, Tulare, 2018


None of this could have been possible without the help of a long list of collaborators, and phenomenal program support from UCANR. We'd like to thank everyone who helped make 2018 such a productive year, and all the best in 2019!

Posted on Monday, December 31, 2018 at 1:03 PM
Tags: annual review (1), IGIS (61)

IGIS Releases New Map of the UCANR Network

IGIS is pleased to release a new map of the ANR network. This poster-size map of the state includes 60 Cooperative Extension Offices, 9 RECS, and 6 affiliated campuses. The legend is accompanied by short descriptions of the main components of ANR, as well as logos of the Statewide Program and Institutes. As far as we know, this is the first attempt ever to map the entire ANR continuum.

Designing the map took several months. Our goal was to create a map that would serve both as a useful reference as well as communicate ANR's mission, structure, and programmatic breadth. Shane Feirer and Andy Lyons developed over 14 drafts in 2018 with input from the Strategic Communications Team and numerous County Directors. A prototype was displayed at the Statewide Conference in April 2018, where we received great feedback including the locations of a couple of satellite offices we didn't know about!

The final product has a classic look and feel to it, with numerous design elements from the ANR Branding toolkit. We created the map in ArcGIS Pro and designed it for bulk printing with a commercial 4-color offset printer. The later was anything but trivial, and we documented a number of tips and lessons learned in a new Tech Note.

Copies of the map have already been distributed to most County Directors and RECS, with a few more to go (if your office hasn't received one, please let us know!). We hope the map will educate visitors about ANR's geographic and programmatic breadth, as well as help orient new ANR employees to our amazing network and beautiful state.

A high-quality PDF copy of the map will be available in the ANR Repository in early 2019, making it easy to print additional copies at copy shops and office supply stores. The ANR network is alive and growing, so a map like this will never be finalized. We will continue to keep the PDF copy updated when we hear about changes to office locations and Statewide Programs. We love to get feedback, so please let us know what you think!

Posted on Friday, December 21, 2018 at 12:33 PM
Tags: IGIS (61)

Monterey is the Place to be for Drone Training in 2019

As drone usage continues to grow exponentially, 2019 stands to be another busy year for the IGIS drone training program. We are pleased to announce two offerings of our popular 3-day comprehensive drone mapping short course, both of which will be held in Monterey County with two outstanding collaborators.

From April 9-12, 2019, we'll be teaching the second annual Drones for Biologists workshop at the gorgeous Hastings Natural History Reservation in collaboration with The Wildlife Society Western Section and the UC Natural Reserve System. This training event specifically caters to the interests of natural resource managers, and includes special sessions on using drones for wildlife research, UAV regulations from the US Fish Wildlife Service, and updates from the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife. New for 2019, participants will have an option to stay for an extra two days to conduct a mentored research project (can you detect turkeys with drones?), that we plan to collectively write up and submit for publication. If you've never been to Hastings, it's a beautiful 2,500-acre oak woodland reserve in the Carmel Valley with onsite accommodation and training facilities. Registration is now open, with discounted rates for TWS members and UCANR employees.

Data Analysis Exercise, Drones for Biologists Workshop
The week of June 17, 2019, we'll be offering our third round of DroneCamp. This is our flagship drone training event, and like previous DroneCamps, the 3-day curriculum will cover an overview of drone mapping technology, regulations, mission planning, flight practice, data processing and management, and analysis with GIS software. This year, we're thrilled to be collaborating with the DART Consortium, a public-private-nonprofit partnership in Monterey centered around developing the UC Monterey Bay Science and Technology Center (UCMBEST), establishing a drone tech R&D park at the former Fort Ord, and developing programs at the UC Santa Cruz Fort Ord Natural Reserve. To add icing on the cake, DroneCamp 2019 will merge seamlessly into the DART Drone Symposium on Friday June 21. The symposium will feature sessions from industry, leading researchers, and service providers. If you've ever sought a truly comprehensive week of drone mapping instruction with updates from the cutting edge, you'd be hard pressed to find a better pairing than DroneCamp plus the DART Symposium. Registration for both events will be open in February.
Flight Instruction at DroneCamp

We're thrilled to be providing these two trainings on drone data collection for the public, and even more thrilled to be working with collaborators who complement our areas of expertise with deep dives into technology developments, research, and policy. To use drones effectively involves navigating some deep waters, these workshops will save aspiring drone users vast amounts of time, money and painful mishaps. Hope to see you there!


Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at 2:54 PM
Tags: dronecamp (2), drones (19), IGIS (61)

California Adaptation Clearinghouse Website Launched

IGIS and the California Naturalist Program are pleased to help celebrate the launch of a new information portal on climate adaptation. The California Adaptation Clearinghouse was officially launched at the California Adaptation Forum in August in Sacramento. The site was developed by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility, CalNat, and IGIS.

The Clearinghouse is a database-driven platform with a wealth of curated resources for climate adaptation. The site originated out of Senate Bill 246, which mandates OPR to provide resources on climate adaptation for local governments, regional planning agencies, and other practitioners working on adaptation and resilience. The database also contains sea-level rise resources collected by the Ocean Protection Council under Assembly Bill 2516. It's an amazing resource for anyone looking to strengthen climate change preparedness in their local government, community, or business.

The database includes numerous planning resources that have been developed and vetted by experts in the field. For example, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network has a how-to guide for local governments on developing equitable, community-driven climate preparedness plans, which you can find in the Clearinghouse. There are also examples of vulnerability assessments, local plans, and funding strategies. The majority of resources are hosted by other organizations, but unlike a Google search all the resources in the Clearinghouse have been reviewed, annotated, and cataloged by subject matter specialists.

To help find resources, the Clearinghouse has a number of search options, including more than a dozen topic categories adapted from Safeguarding California, the state's overall roadmap for building climate change resiliency. You can also search by Type of Impact (e.g., drought, sea level rise), Resource Type (e.g., case study, assessment, policy guidance), and of course an interactive map. Each resource has a descriptive blurb so you can quickly find what you need.

Adaptation planning can be information intensive, so the Tools and Data section of the website is devoted to helping people find data and crunch the numbers. Interested in rangelands? Check out the CA Landscape Conservation Cooperative's compiled Threat Assessments to California Rangelands. Sea level rise? Perhaps the CosMos modeling tool from USGS, or the Surging Seas tool from Climate Central. Like all resources, each tool and dataset has a user-friendly description, a technical summary, a bit about the data, and links to the source. One of our favorites is the California Energy Commission's Cal-Adapt, which includes both historical and projected climate data downscaled for California.

Providing a more personal perspective, the Clearinghouse also contains stories about climate adaptation from individuals, community groups, and businesses. The stories were collected by the UC ANR California Naturalist Program and their vast network of certified naturalists. The climate stories are diverse and compelling, from a concerned grandmother who becomes engaged in a community choice energy program, to a solar project engineer working to strengthen measures to prevent heat stroke in field staff. An interactive Story Map developed by IGIS helps users find stories from their area, some of which even have audio or video clips so you can hear the story in the speaker's own words.

Climate adaptation is complicated, but information portals like the Clearinghouse allow anyone to tap into the incredible amount of work that has already been done in California and elsewhere. Rather than reinvent the wheel, local agencies can build upon vetted guidelines from similar areas. We are all fortunate that the State of California has invested in a platform to share curated resources for the long-term, because climate adaptation is already part of the new normal. More resources are in the pipeline, so check it out and then check back often to see what's new.

Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 4:29 PM
Tags: Adaptation (1), CalNat (1), Clearinghouse (1), Climate Change (1), IGIS (61), OPR (1)

First storyPrevious 5 stories  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: