Integration of Land Cover Trends Field Photography with an Online Map Service

Science Center Objects

The USGS National Land Cover Trends Project has the largest repository of field photos at the USGS (over 33,000 photos). Prior to CDI funding, Land Cover Trends had limited funding to make the national collection of photos available online for researchers, land managers, and citizens. The goal of this CDI project was to add geotags and keywords to the digital copies of each field photo and make...

The USGS National Land Cover Trends Project has the largest repository of field photos at the USGS (over 33,000 photos). Prior to CDI funding, Land Cover Trends had limited funding to make the national collection of photos available online for researchers, land managers, and citizens. The goal of this CDI project was to add geotags and keywords to the digital copies of each field photo and make the collection searchable and downloadable via the Internet. By funding the effort to integrate Land Cover Trends field photography and online mapping technology, CDI has helped provide access to geographic data needed to conduct science and support policy decisions. Sharing georeferenced photography distributed across the conterminous United States creates an excellent avenue for the scientific community to provide access to scientific results. Additionally, this type of sharing allows the community to develop future research opportunities, such as future repeat photography research, or applications in which photos may serve as training or test site data for other remote sensing classifications. The integration of online map services and Land Cover Trends field photography also provides public access to government research and increases the visibility of such research. Serving data to the public is directly in line with the USGS’s mission and provides opportunities for future scientific collaboration by communicating USGS research to the scientific community.

Accomplishments

As of October 27, 2015, the accomplishments for the Land Cover Trends project were as follows:

  • The project plan was presented as part of the 2015 CDI Workshop in Denver, Colo.
  • The project team embedded geographic coordinates and keywords from field spreadsheets into exchangeable image file format metadata for over 15,000 field photos distributed across 44 of 84 Level III ecoregions (Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 1997).
  • Field photos with personally identifiable information were removed from the geotagged dataset.
  • A clean database of field photos was delivered to Web development teams at Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center and Western Geographic Science Center.
  • A Web platform, titled the “USGS Trends Photo Explorer,” was developed by the Western Geographic Science Center using Leaflet to present photos in a land-use/land-cover context (U.S. Geological Survey, 2015h).
  • The USGS Trends Photo Explorer was approved in the Information Product Data System on October 26, 2015, for public dissemination. The USGS Trends Photo Explorer uses a map interface to present field photos online. The Web site employs the Leaflet map interface to present over 13,000 photos in 44 Level III ecoregions (fig. 7). The user can select 2011 National Land Cover Dataset, Level III ecoregions, and Land Cover Trends sample blocks to see photos in a land-use/land-cover context (fig. 8). The user can zoom in to see the spatial distribution of field photos in a specific region or search by metadata attributes, such as keywords and photo date (fig. 9). Finally, the user may browse or download the field photos of interest (fig. 10).
  • The Web development team at EROS Data Center has also placed photos within the USGS Earth Explorer (U.S. Geological Survey, 2015i). A second FSP review at EROS Data Center is underway and will be completed shortly.

The team expects the field photos to be available via Earth Explorer early in FY 2016. The team also intends to generate a press release and possibly a USGS fact sheet to highlight the public release of the USGS Trends Photo Explorer Web page when the peer review process is complete. The team continues to geotag field photos, which will be made public as they become available. 





Note:  This description is from the Community for Data Integration 2015 Annual Report