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Ground-truthing Saltmarsh Vegetation Communities with Mappt. Lindisfarne Island, UK

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Lindisfarne is a tidal island located off the north-east coast of England covering 405 hectares (1,000 acres). Whilst small, measuring 4 km in width 2.5 km in length, the island habitats consist of thriving saltmarshes, sand dunes, and tidal mudflats.  The island is known as a spectacular habitat for viewing migrating birds.

The coastal salt marshes of Lindisfarne formed when salt tolerant plants colonised the adjoining intertidal areas. The region’s high tidal variation has created an environment endemic to the islands unique range of flora and fauna.

How Mappt Assists Uni Students in the Field

Post-graduate research students enrolled in an International Marine Environmental Consultancy course provided by Newcastle University, UK, successfully used UAV imagery and Mappt to identify saltmarsh vegetation communities around Lindisfarne Island.

Students used stratified random sampling to collect ground truth data in order to train predictive mapping models for object-based image analysis of drone imagery. Students identified eight vegetation communities for predictive mapping.  Method “C” was found to have the most successful prediction rate.

Tidal plant communities on Lindisfarne island mapped using image-based object analysis of drone imagery

Tidal plant communities on Lindisfarne island mapped using image-based object analysis of drone imagery

Vegetation Communities Identified for this study

Code & Salt Marsh Plant Community Name

SM13 Puccinellia maritima
SM14 Halimione portulacoides
SM15 Juncus maritimus-Triglochin maritima
SM16 Festuca rubra
SM28 Elymus repens
SM6 Spartina anglica
SM8 Annual Salicornia

 

For this study, Mappt was connected to a Trimble Catalsyt GNSS (via bluetooth) to stake out quadrats, navigate to sampling areas, and store field data.  *Mounting your tablet to the GPS pole as was done for this study is advantageous as it frees up your hands for other important tasks.  We like how Paula took advantage of soft soils to ‘plant’ her GPS and tablet while referring to her comprehensive list of 864 unique National Vegetation Classification sub community names.

Using Mappt in conjunction with Trimble GNSS to map tidal plant communities

Using Mappt in conjunction with Trimble GNSS to map tidal plant communities

Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive and included the following;  

Uploading shapefiles was easy

Sampling points when overlain on drone imagery were easy to navigate to  

Sampling points could be made invisible after data had been collected

Students Share Their Excitement for Using Mappt

Students Share Their Excitement for Using Mappt

Students at the university of Newcastle plan to use Mappt for their future projects such as; sand dune monitoring, rocky shore habitat mapping, and measuring the impact of activities such as bait collection from the intertidal area. In this way, Mappt is helping university students to map and collect data on-the-go effectively.

 

Mappt is available for free to educational institutions.  Here’s how to become an educational partner with Mappt.  

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1m Positional Accuracy in Mappt using Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor

Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor & Mappt Mobile GIS

Measuring 60x100mm the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor can provide 1m accuracy

Measuring 60x100mm the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor can provide 1m accuracy

Thanks to the helpful folks at Bad Elf, we recently got our hands on the Bad Elf Surveyor Bluetooth GNSS* for testing with Mappt. Combining Mappt with an external source of positional information delivers higher  accuracy than using the on-board GNSS for mobile phones and tablets. It also reduces battery consumption and CPU load on your mobile device.

Vendors like Bad Elf also provide applications offering enhanced functionality for data logging, device configuration, and data QC. Using external GNSS sources makes determining your position less “black box” and more hands-on when it comes to resolving your location and understanding the level of accuracy provided.
Compact and Compatible
Paring the Bad Elf GNSS with Mappt follows the same procedure we’ve detailed in a previous blog. The compact design (100x 60x20mm) and long lasting battery make the Bad Elf a handy field companion for mobile mapping and data collection. With a small LCD screen yielding important GNSS information, the Bad Elf keeps you well aware of the positional information available to you.

GNSS information available from the Bad Elf's compact 35x25mm LCD screen

GNSS information available from the Bad Elf’s compact 35x25mm LCD screen

Increased Accuracy
When either mapping or collecting data in the field, increased positional accuracy is always a plus. Often it’s necessary to revisit the field to account for seasonal changes (in the case of environmental sciences) or for relocating benchmarks or critical infrastructure such as utilities. The Bad Elf Surveyor offers up to 1m accuracy, an improvement over the 3-5m accuracy achievable with tablets and mobile phones.

 

How does it do that?
The Bad Elf Surveyor uses information from three satellite constellations; GPS, GLONASS, and QZSS. Thus from wherever you are globally, there’s an increased probability that you will have the required four satellites to resolve your position. Many devices derive location from a single satellite constellation thus limiting the amount of satellites available to them. The Bad Elf Surveyor also implements SBAS, Satellite Based Augmentation System, to gain positions within 1m. Serving as an augmentation to Global Navigation Satellite Systems, it works by collecting raw positioning data from regional Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS), computing error corrections, and sharing these corrections to users via a geostationary communications satellite. While southern hemisphere regions don’t have their own SBAS, Australia is currently implementing its own SBAS test-bed to be operational by January 2019.
Alongside SBAS, the Bad Elf Surveyor also implements PPP, Precise Point Positioning, which removes GNSS system errors providing a high level of position accuracy from a single receiver. This solution depends on GNSS satellite clock and orbit corrections. These corrections are delivered to the receiver via satellite to provide positioning accurate to within several deicmetres.

 

Mobile Device GPS Behavior Versus Dedicated GPS Units
Mobile device GNSS chipsets have been designed to compliment an integrated system (your tablet/phone) delivering a wide variety of applications. Just count the number of apps you’ve downloaded from the app store. Can you imagine carrying a separate component for each of these?  These mobile applications are optimized to reduce load on the system by reducing battery consumption and processor load. The optimisation for mobile GPS chipsets puts limiting battery usage at the top of the list with time-to-fix location second and positional accuracy third. Dedicated GNSS devices like Bad Elf devices flip this priority on it’s head, placing positional accuracy first followed by time-to-fix and lastly the reduction of battery power. While it may seem like the Bad Elf would quickly run out of juice, it can continuously stream Bluetooth GNSS information for 24 hours. We have yet to see a tablet with that type of battery power!

We took the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor to our favourite bushland, Signal Hill Park

We took the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor to our favourite bushland, Signal Hill Park

Mapping Tips n Tricks Learned Using the Bad Elf Surveyor
Creating Polygons in Mappt –  Turn on the enter polygon tool and record each significant point of the polygon (corners and inflection points) as you walk out the perimiter. This ensures that corners/vertices are not shortcut and an accurate shape of the area is recorded.  It’s possible to create polygons in Mappt using the GPS Tracking tool, then walking out the perimeter of the polygon, and finishing off by converting the polyline to a polygon to enclose the area. This method helps when moving continuously (such as when in a vehicle) as you don’t need to stop and record points around the area. However the points associated with your polyline are created at the frequency of GPS updates from your device and you may end up not recording those key corner points!
GNSS Location – Place your external GNSS device in a way that provides a clear view of the sky. Some websites suggest affixing the GNSS face-up to the top of your hat! While you will have great reception, this limits the opportunity to check parameters on the LCD screen. Affixing the GNSS to a surveyors staff gives you both a walking stick and place to mount your tablet. This setup affords both good GNSS reception and makes data entry easier as the tablet is held steady by the staff.  Note:  The team at Bad Elf are currently developing hardware designed with rapid mobile mapping in mind.

The crew at Bad Elf are working on a clever monopole mount for the Bad Elf Surveyor

The crew at Bad Elf are working on a clever monopole mount for the Bad Elf Surveyor

Bad Elf has developed an integrated GPS and mobile device monopole for rapid mobile mapping

Bad Elf has developed an integrated GPS and mobile device monopole for rapid mobile mapping

Bad Elf GNSS Logging – The Bad Elf allows continuous logging of points. After a hard day in the field, it’s nice to know how much ground you covered. Logged information can be downloaded as GPX files and visualised in desktop GIS solutions such as QGIS.

Signal Hill Park Map from QGIS. Bad Elf track points (orange) displaying the total ground covered in this mapping exercise.

Signal Hill Park Map from QGIS. Bad Elf track points (orange) displaying the total ground covered in this mapping exercise.

*GNSS, Global Navigation Satellite System, is the collective term for all navigation satellites groups (constellations) including GPS.

 

If you would like to know more about configuring an external GNSS to work with Mappt, please contacts us at: support@mappt.com.au

Returning to Paradise with Mappt: How the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort Utilises Mappt to help Native Plant Re-vegetation

Lady Elliot Island, Queensland has taken on Mappt to assist native plant re-vegetation

Lady Elliot Island, Great Barrier Reef utilises Mappt to assist native plant re-vegetation

Lady Elliot Island is an idyllic 40 hectare coral cay, located 84 kilometres off the Queensland coast. It is the southernmost coral cay of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The surrounding waters are known for their clarity due to the island’s southerly location and distance from the mainland. Its proximity to the Australian continental shelf is believed to be linked to the availability of food for manta rays, for which the island is renowned.
Human Impacts
By the late 1800’s, guano mining had removed significant amounts of material lowering the island by 1 – 1.5m. The guano was used in the manufacture of agricultural fertilisers. Goats were also introduced about this time as a food source, and were subsequently removed in the late 1960’s. The island remained baron until the establishment of a small low-key tourist resort in the late 1960’s, which has been credited with starting a revegetation program also contributed to by the lighthouse keepers.
Many species of plants were introduced in the early years, a lot of which were not native to the coral cays of the southern Great Barrier Reef. Positive revegetation efforts continued over many years. Current efforts are focused on removing the introduced exotics and replacing them with native species to build the island’s resilience to climate change.

Lady Elliot Island, LEI, Ecco Resort is replacing introduced plants with natives. Mappt Mobile GIS has been implemented as the preferred field data collection and validation tool for LEI's re-vegetation program

Lady Elliot Island (LEI) Eco Resort is replacing introduced plants with natives. Mappt Mobile GIS has been implemented as the preferred field data collection and validation tool for LEI’s re-vegetation program

Where Mappt Comes In

Mappt has been selected to help manage and monitor re-vegetation efforts on Lady Elliot Island.  The LEI Ecosystem Resilience Plan has been developed based on the Queensland Herbarium’s ‘Regional Ecosystem Model’, identifying appropriate native species best suited to this environment.  The modular delivery approach is ‘step-wise’ with a nominated area being prepared and re-vegetated prior to another area starting.

Functionality such as ‘geofenced exclusion/inclusion zones’ and buffering (a new feature in Mappt) are useful tools for this type of work.  For example, ‘exclusion zones’ help keep activities within, or outside, designated zones.  Buffering tools assist with activities adjacent to aircraft runways to manage Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements.

Mappt Mobile GIS is used in-field to help workers locate areas for revegetation on Lady Elliot Island.

Mappt Mobile GIS is used in-field to help workers locate areas for revegetation on Lady Elliot Island.

Mappt for Better Land Management

Mappt is an intuitive, easy-to-use field data collection application that lends itself to a variety of disciplines including land management, agriculture, and sustainability programs. Important ecosystems such as Lady Elliot Island benefit from careful management supported by up-to-date geospatial information.

Lady Elliot Island staff using Mappt to direct contractors on re-vegetation activities

Lady Elliot Island staff using Mappt to direct and monitor revegetation activities

Contact us today to learn how Mappt can be of benefit to your field mapping and data collection activities.

Re-vegetation polygons on Lady Elliot Island. Note the buffering polygon surrounding the island's runway.

Re-vegetation polygons on Lady Elliot Island. Note the buffering polygon surrounding the island’s runway.

 

 

 

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Why Geospatial Technology is set to explode in 2017

When we think of the term ‘geospatial’ what springs to mind? Maps? Satellites? Space?
Of course those subjects are relevant, however, geospatial refers to all things related to location.

Data, drones, maps, cameras, sensors, cars, infrastructure and your mobile phone. The rapid expansion of this industry is happening right now, so why is this so important for us in 2017?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have the ability to integrate into every aspect of our lives. The recent and rapid increase in technology has enabled this integration, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to proceed. With more data and connectivity than ever before, humans have the power to solve real life problems.

So, let’s take a look at what’s in store for us this year.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is the massive network of connected devices and sensors that transmit messages back to us in real time. Yes, ‘smart’ devices. Smart homes, smart phones, smart cars and smart cities.

Cisco estimates the IoT market will be worth US$19 trillion within the next 10 years, and by 2020 the internet will have over 50 billion connected devices! Google and Apple have already built networks with over 5 million developers.

The geospatial enablement of these connected devices play a pivotal role in the IoT marketplace. Smart cities, for example, have the capacity to solve traffic congestion, improve waste management and help make our cities safer.

A recent example is the waste management app Bigbelly. The app uses cloud computing to transmit data specifying which rubbish bin locations are full and need to be collected. This has already begun to radically improve waste management systems in over 45 countries and will, in turn, reduce pollution as a global effect.

iot

Satellites

The latest stats from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) suggest there are currently 1,419 active satellites in orbit as of 30 June 2016, with thousands more under construction.

Interestingly, government-funded platforms are in decline, and privately funded micro-satellites are on the rise – costing a fraction of the price. This shift in operations will not only make satellite imagery more available, but cheaper and more abundant.

In 2015, Earth Observation Systems (EOS) alone contributed AUD$496 million in direct economic benefit to Australia and generated around 9000 new jobs.

In a bid to make internet accessible in lesser developed countries, Google has teamed up with O3B and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deliver the internet via satellite. One solution, known as Project Loon, involves a high-altitude balloon network floating in the stratosphere.

Loon has been tested in multiple countries, and is currently operating in Sri Lanka, making it the first country to have universal internet access via the helium balloon system.

a-train_satellites

Drones

Drones: arguably the most exciting devices zipping around today! Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), known to many as drones, are cultivating crop yields, filming Hollywood blockbusters and delivering pizza straight to your door.

Drones are dominating a market that’s forecasted to skyrocket by more than 6,000% by 2020. ABI Research estimates the small drone market will surpass US$8.4 billion by the end of 2017.

According to Dan Kara, Practice Director of Robotics at ABI Research, the commercial RPAS sector is where the market’s thriving, with revenues expected to exceed US$5.1 billion by 2019.

The capabilities of drones are still being recognised. Dangerous human jobs like wind turbine inspections, the mapping of collapsed buildings or oil spills during emergency situations are some of the exciting applications serving major benefit throughout the world.

Accessibility and affordability is also becoming mainstream, with drones available to anyone over the counter and online.

drone-1142182_960_720

Wearable devices

While wearable technologies may seem ultra-futuristic, these types of devices are not far away from the masses.

The market for wearable devices is predicted to grow at 99% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2020.

Fitness tracking bracelets only scratch the surface of the wearable device market, as Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are cropping up in a variety of industries.

In the field of geospatial, Topcon is working with DAQRI to create wearable technology (smart helmets) for surveying, construction, engineering and mining professionals.

Their aim is to make work safer through augmented reality and give users a hands-free tool that can be used onsite. Affordability is also becoming crucial.

With the help of our smartphones, VR headsets are available for as little as AUD$35. Although not fully revolutionised, it is estimated that more than 26 million VR headsets will be distributed by 2020.

DAQRI Smart Helmet

DAQRI Smart Helmet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCAShzXhBCI

GIS (Geographic Information System)

When explaining what a GIS is, National Geographic sums it up nicely:

“A GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships. ”

Gone are the days when only qualified specialists could navigate a GIS and in specialist industries like remote sensing. Nowadays various GIS are used across a range of industries from real estate and agriculture, to local government authorities and educational institutes.

Mobile GIS devices are particularly beneficial as they enable anyone to create and gather location-based data on the go.

Our mobile GIS application Mappt allows you to create, edit, store and share geospatial information with your fingertips.

We differ from other GIS platforms because of our easy to use features, mobile and tablet integration, offline capability and our very affordable licenses. This makes Mappt the perfect GIS for beginners, and an easy to use advanced mapping tool for veterans; this is why businesses in over 130 countries use our software.

GET MY FREE MAPPT TRIAL

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Let’s wrap it up

With nearly half of the world’s population (that’s 3.4 billion people) connected to the internet, and a ‘space race’ to connect the other half, Location-Based Services (LBS) and the geospatial realm will continue to experience explosive growth over the next couple of years. Whilst leading technology companies like Google are in the lead, emerging smaller businesses are setting exciting standards.

As technology moves forward there is an exciting ambiguity as to how much digital transformation will shape and improve our lives.

Through rapidly growing modernisations such as the Internet of Things, satellites, drones or even virtual reality headsets, humans have never been more connected – geospatially or otherwise.

Although there are pressing matters like privacy and security, the opportunities for powerful geospatial innovations are endless.

If you want more than today’s slice of information, please refer to the CRCSI Global Outlook 2016: Spatial Information Industry report.

 

siobhan-profile2Siobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

 

Sources

Coppa, I., Woodgate, P. W., and Mohamed-Ghouse Z.S. (2016), ‘Global Outlook 2016: Spatial Information Industry’. Published by the Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information.

http://www. sciencealert.com/google-s-internet-balloons-will-soon-connect-all-of-sri-lanka-with-wifi

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-09/world-drone-market-seen-nearing-127-billion-in-2020-pwc-says

ABIResearch, “Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Market Exceeds US$8.4 Billion by 2019”, abiresearch.com

CISCO, “Industry Perspective: Understanding the Internet of Everything”