University of California
Informatics and GIS Program


Esri Developer Summit 2019

Dev Summit 2019

The Esri Developer Summit in Palm Springs was, as usual, a very informative look into the resources Esri provides for those who want to take their software to the next level. Although this year's conference was a bit light on major announcements (they're probably saving all the good stuff for the User Conference in July) there were still a few interesting takeaways:

  • ArcGIS Notebooks are continuing the trend of tight integration of Python with the ArcGIS suite. While currently available through ArcGIS Enterprise portal, the next release of ArcGIS Pro is going to support Python Notebooks directly in the desktop environment.
  • Web apps are becoming lighter, more efficient and more mobile-friendly. Progressive web app standards are making it easier to develop functional, responsive web apps rather than needing to delve into the more complicated world of native apps.
  • ArcGIS Pro is finally going to support publishing to standalone servers in the next release! Esri is framing this as a tool for transitioning to Portal servers, but those of us that still use standalone servers will take it.
  • ArcMap really has become obsolete. While Esri is still pledging to support it for "years to come", all new functionality will only be available in Pro.

All in all, the Dev Summit is a great resource for keeping up to date on all the cutting-edge technology that Esri has to offer. It's a great learning experience and I look forward to attending again in the future.

Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 9:11 AM
Tags: ArcGIS Pro (4), Dev Summit (2), ESRI (13), IGIS (62), Python (2)

Salinas Ag Tech Summit

Ag Tech Summit

2019.03.26 - 27 in Salinas, California - The Epicenter of AgTech

The Ag Tech Summit at Hartnell College showcased people's passion for agriculture and the ability to integrate new technologies for improved quality and production. It was a chance for growers, researchers and technology providers to connect and reimagine an better future for propagating industry, providing to our world population and everyone's concern with making food healthier and more organic.

Some Topics covered included:

  • Remote Sensing
  • IPM Approaches
  • Managing Virus Spread
  • Automation for SGMA Groundwater Management
  • Traceability for Managing Food Safety Risk
  • Big Data in Ag

[Below Image: Morning Keynote - Bob Whitaker, Produce Marketing Association]

Remote Sensing

The remote sensing panel included researchers and industry from companies like Ceres Imaging, AirSpace Integration and CSU Monterey Bay. It was insightful to hear how RS, especially those using drones as a platform, have been used in the Agriculture sector and in what ways Ag is benefiting from it.

Traceability for Managing Food Safety Risk

New systems are being explored and adoptions from companies like UPS that help track food found at the supermarket back to its origin. This is useful in cases of food related outbreaks which can be mitigated its impact on the consumer and the industry. This panel explained that even a simple note taking application in field has high reward for targeting reasons for outbreak.

Big Data in Ag

This panel covered how big data can speed up agronomic decisions through analysis of traceability systems, remote sensing and other technology in correlation with market analysis. A very notable company was Project Athena that is using artificial intelligence to analyze big data and turn it into information.

Gabe Youtsey - UC ANR

Gabe attended the Ag Tech Summit as a keynote speaker and panel member. During his keynote, he spoke about the progress of VINE and UC ANR's commitment in improving California's Ag. He was part of the "How California is Strategizing to Meet the 2020 Workforce Needs" panel sitting in with other members from Cal Poly, CSU Monterey Bay and Ca Community College Chncellor's Office.

[Below Image: Afternoon Keynote - Gabe Youtsey, Chief Innovation Officer, UC ANR]

Given all these outlooks, I'm looking forward to 2020's Ag Tech Summit.

Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 1:15 PM

IGIS Trained Foresters to use ArcGIS Pro and Mobile Apps to Collect Data

IGIS worked with UCANR Advisors Mike Jones, Rick Satomi, and Yana Valachovic to conduct two 2-day training workshops in Northern California the week of March 18th-23rd.  These workshops were held in Santa Rosa, CA and Arcata, CA. and they were well attended by approximately 20 participants at each location.  The intent of these workshops were to bring the participants up to speed on the latest GIS software (ArcGIS Pro, and ArcGIS Online), best practices in cartography, managing data, and spatial analysis, and mobile data collection (ArcGIS Collector, ArcGIS Survey 123, and Azenva).

IGIS will conduct these workshops two more times in the coming months.  These workshops will be held at the following locations and dates:

  • Lake Tahoe Community College, April 25 – 26
  • Shasta College, May 10 – 11

For More Information: Please see the following website: 


Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 12:36 PM
Tags: Arcata (1), ArcGIS (6), ArcGIS Pro (4), Avenza (1), Collector (1), Forestry (1), IGIS (62), Santa Rosa (1), Survey 123 (1), UCANR (14), UCCE (3)
Focus Area Tags: Innovation Natural Resources

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 (62)

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