University of California
Informatics and GIS Program

Posts Tagged: IGIS

DroneCamp Scholarship Fund Focus of June 5 #BigDigDay Campaign

To support broad participation for next month's DroneCamp in Monterey, IGIS has launched the DroneCamp Scholarship Program. DroneCamp is an intensive three-day workshop that covers everything one needs to know to use drones for mapping and data collection. The Scholarship Program is aimed at defraying the cost of participation for students, non-profits and under-represented communities.

Drones have revolutionized our ability to produce high resolution, spatially accurate images of any area of interest. Drone mapping has become possible due to simultaneous breakthroughs over the past 5 years in multi-rotor drone platforms, navigation systems, lightweight sensors, autonomous flight planning apps, and photogrammetry software. It is now easier than ever to generate stunning, highly accurate 2D and 3D models of an area, on demand. Despite the technological progress, the learning curve for drone mapping is steep, and mistakes can be costly. DroneCamp covers the entire workflow including hardware selection, compliance with FAA regulations, mission planning, manual flight operations, emergency procedures, data management, stitching images together, quality assessment, and data analysis.

Flight Practice Session

The DroneCamp Scholarship fund covers registration for the selected recipients. Scholarships are made possible by individual and organizational donations, combined with a 50% fee waiver from IGIS. All donors who wish to be recognized will be highlighted during the workshop and on the website. This includes individuals who contribute through the ANR inaugural #BigDigDay campaign on June 5. Big Dig Day is a social media fundraising campaign like #GivingTuesday to support valuable UCANR programs that serve the people of California.

Scholarship applications are now open and will continue through June 6. If you or your organization would like to help a deserving student, non-profit, or under-represented community get up to speed on this amazing technology, please consider making a donation to the DroneCamp Scholarship Program!


Posted on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 9:04 AM
Tags: BigDigDay (1), DroneCamp (3), IGIS (62)

IGIS Recognized for Drone Data Management Tools at Geography Conference

At the recent conference of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in Washington DC, IGIS was recognized for its work in developing open source data management tools for drone data. The AAG is the largest association of geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists in the world, and its annual conference attracts over 8,500 people and over 6,900 presentations. IGIS researchers Andy Lyons, Jacob Flanagan, and Sean Hogan won second place in a poster competition sponsored by the AAG Remote Sensing Specialty Group and photogrammetry company Pix4D.

Data management is not the most exciting aspect of working with drones, but it's an essential component when using drones for research mapping. In drone mapping, the drone flies a crisscross pattern over the study area, taking pictures at regular internals. When the flight is over, you have to get the images off the drone's camera, and feed them into photogrammetry software that stitches them together. The software also removes all the overlap, corrects for perspective and distortion, and generate 3D models of the terrain. An enormous amount of data is involved at each step of the process.

Data management involves protocols and file transfer utilities to help you organize data, assess quality, create backups, find and retrieve files, and reproduce workflows. Photogrammetry programs are brilliant at stitching photos into beautiful high resolution imagery, but they don't offer many tools for managing data before or after the processing. This is the gap IGIS is addressing.

IGIS has been working on data management tools for the past couple of years to help us manage the dozens of drone projects we conduct each year on behalf of UC researchers. In keeping with our public mission and research innovation focus, we use open source programming platforms such as Python and R and share our tools on GitHub so anyone can use them.

The poster presented at the AAG conference showcases 5 data management projects. The foundation of all our projects is a directory structure and file naming protocol that encompasses all the types of data in a drone project, including images, ground control points, GIS layers, documentation, intermediate files, and final outputs. Building upon this, the uavimg package for R creates offline HTML catalogs and maps of images, allow for quality control checks in the field and a master catalog to help an analyst find the right set of images for a project. The IGIS Drive Monitor, written in Python, is designed to run on a laptop in the field and automates the process even further by monitoring a USB drive and copying files into the right place automatically. The IGIS Pix4D Controller, also written in Python, runs on a server and automates the next step of the process, launching the Pix4D stitching software when a new set of images is detected, creating a new project, and initiating the stitching process. Finally, the IGIS Drone Data Management Logbook, still being developed, combines functionality of the previous utilities with additional visualization tools for quality control.

Our drone data management utilities are still under development, but they are available currently available for testing (see GitHub links in the poster). If you'd like to be a beta tester, please let us know!). Later this year, we plan on holding a webinar describing how to use these tools and invite feedback from users. Open source software is designed for collaboration, and our ultimate hope is to collaborate with other drone users and programmers facing similar needs. In the meantime, it's great to be recognized by leading experts in the field.


Posted on Friday, April 19, 2019 at 8:01 AM
Tags: data management (1), drones (19), IGIS (62)

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)

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

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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