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2011 Harvard GCA Conference



Community-based approaches to high-resolution multispectral imaging with balloons

Friday May 6th, 9:40-10am - Jeff Warren

In the past year, a growing grassroots community of mapmakers has produced many high resolution maps using inexpensive cameras attached to balloons or kites. Subjects have included time-sensitive scenes such as environmental contamination due to the BP oil spill and wastewater flows in Brooklyn's Gowanus canal -- collected in most cases by local residents and activists without GIS or formal training in mapmaking techniques.

Leading this initiative by conducting research to improve these tools and by supporting communities in creating maps, the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) is now working to enable new types of data collection, including infrared aerial imaging. This multispectral approach enables grassroots mappers to leverage established remote sensing research to assess rates of photosynthesis and vegetative health, and further supports efforts to monitor environmental damage with periodic mapping.

This talk will review several case studies from both a technological and social perspective, examining the benefits and challenges of developing technologies in collaboration with local resident communities and activist groups.

How to make your own aerial imagery for $100

Saturday May 7, 12pm-4pm - Liz Barry

Do you need high resolution (up to 3cm/px) imagery of a specific site, at a specific time? In this workshop, members of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science will review materials and techniques for building and operating low-cost aerial imaging systems using balloons and kites, as well as stereo and infrared camera setups enabling vegetation analysis. An example rig will be available, and those interested will be able to construct their own camera housings and balloons. We can provide assistance (as well as printed guides) on sourcing materials, best practices for specific sites and conditions, and configuring cameras for interval shooting and infrared photography.

Weather permitting, we may have the opportunity to conduct a demonstration flight -- alternatives include modifying cameras for infrared capture and introducing Public Laboratory's web-based map processing and analysis tools.