Kayaker crowdsourcing imagery for mapping project with EarthViews.

Mapping with Crowdsourcing at EarthViews

We are fortunate at Esri to have a wide array of business partners that are helping us achieve a more sustainable and resilient planet.  One of these business partners is EarthViews.  EarthViews vision is to connect people to critically important aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. EarthViews works with land, water managers and others to help achieve this mission.  To accomplish EarthViews’ vision, they have developed technology to bring waterways to the desktop, mobile or VR device via easy-to-use, publicly available, 360 interactive virtual tours. These reality based maps have many uses for waterway safety, recreation, science, and conservation. Mapping with crowdsourcing at EarthViews helps with the mission.

One of my favorite teaching tools is their EarthViews Atlas.  I use these immersive videos and stills to help students understand how waterways in urban and rural areas are so critical to water quality and quantity, to ecosystem health, to human health and wellness, and to recreation.  They are somewhat like “Google Street View” for waterways!  Some are taken on the water, and some are even taken underwater!  One of my favorites is the fascinating 360 degree views of the Okavango Basin in Angola, Namibia, and Botswana.  My central message to students is that rivers, ponds, and lakes are not just expanses of blue depicted on maps!  They have width, depth, chemistry, and many other characteristics that EarthViews helps us to understand.

I also frequently refer to EarthViews in my career presentations for students:  (1)  Be innovative!  EarthViews found a need and created a company and a set of tools to meet that need.  Consider doing the same for an area you see a need in!  (2) Consider working for one of our business partners when you see openings.  The Esri partner network includes people in just about every possible field, including natural resources, public safety, mapping, planning, health, business, city planning, transportation, and many more. 

One of the educational and societal forces I and others frequently teach about is crowdsourcing.  Crowdsourcing is possible via field apps such as Survey123, iNaturalist, and many others.  Instructors have been using crowdsourcing with their students to generate data on invasive species, weather, soil chemistry, litter, graffiti, vegetation, vehicle and pedestrian counts, walkability (as I describe here), and many other phenomena.  However, it is still sometimes challenging to find meaningful crowdsourcing activities for students and others that will actually be used over the long term by those outside one’s classroom.  Once again, I turn to EarthViews for a wonderful opportunity.  EarthViews has a crowdsourcing opportunity that you and your students could participate in.  Yes, you and your students can help EarthViews create the immersive imagery that I described above in their atlas!

Join the EarthViews crowdmapping team and get the areas you care about published on EarthViews Atlas!  Mapping by crowdsourcing is easy at EarthViews. They even have cameras and mapping gear to loan out to volunteers! 

This blog post was written by Joseph Kerski GISP at esri and originally appeared here.  

EarthViews Vision

EarthViews vision is to connect people to critically important aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. EarthViews works with NGO’s, Federal, State and Local resource managers to help achieve this mission. To accomplish EarthViews vision we developed technology to bring waterways to your desktop, mobile or VR device via easy-to-use, publicly available, 360 interactive virtual tours. These reality based maps have many uses for waterway conservationists and natural resource managers.

  • Digitally preserve the waterway, creating a historical baseline of conditions.
  • Visualize waterway data in context.
  • Collect Data
  • Locate points of interest.
  • Educate with virtual field trips.
  • Scope areas for recreation activities.
  • See it before you get there to enhance waterway emergency management and navigation.

Mapping the Elwha River after Dam Removal

On August 29th 2014 we made our way down the Elwha scraping the bottom of our raft and beating our oars against the gravel and cobble, barely submerged by the shallow low flowing water of a sleeping giant, the Elwha.

A little over three months later the flows in the river would peak at almost 10 times what we experienced during our arduous day of river mapping. A series of Pacific storms would sweep through the region giving the river the water it needs to remember the places it has run before. Natural river flows fluctuate according to the season, often with large spring flows corresponding to spring rains or snowmelt, and low summer flows corresponding to warm, dry summer weather.

Dams dramatically alter a river’s flow regime by blocking a river’s passage, storing water in artificial reservoirs. The Dams that blocked the Elwha river for 100 years are now completely gone. The dynamic nature of the Elwha has returned. The channel will be different in 2015. Insight into these differences can be gained by overlaying EarthViews data and imagery from one year to the next. How did the habitat change? Is there more or less wood? Is it in different locations? How did the sediment and shifting substrate alter the direction of the rivers main flow? Answering these questions using reality indexing from location based imagery will help establish a baseline and trend, recording the evolution of a rivers natural restoration process. Capturing this process is exactly what our mapping technology was designed to do.

*This blog is a re-post from the archives to celebrate the new EarthViews Blog.