Highlights from VISualize 2013 – Connecting the remote sensing community

VISualize 2013 is an annual conference hosted by Exelis Visual Information Solutions, and co-sponsored by HySpeed Computing, that brings together thought leaders in the geosciences to discuss the latest trends in remote sensing. The focus this year was on “Connecting the Community to Discuss Global Change and Environmental Monitoring.”

With more than 20 presentations and ample discussion throughout, it was an insightful and very informative conference. Some highlights from VISualize 2013 include:

  • Jim Irons (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) presented a summary of the Landsat 8 mission, including details on data distribution, sensor specifications, measurement capabilities, and new band designations. He also noted that responsibility for the instrument was officially shifted from NASA to USGS on 30 May 2013, signifying completion of all on-orbit checkouts and the initiation of public data dissemination. Currently more than 20,000 images are already available for users to download.
  • Mark Braza (U.S. Government Accountability Office) described the use of propensity score analysis to estimate the effectiveness of land conservation programs. The approach utilizes statistical analysis to identify control groups from amongst land areas associated with, but not included in, established conservation projects, and then leverages these control areas as a means to assess the relative impact of land conservation efforts.
  • Nasser Olwero and Charles Huang (World Wildlife Fund) summarized objectives of the Global Impact Award that WWF recently received from Google. In this project WWF will be using state-of-the-art technology, specifically animal tracking tags, analytical software that optimizes ranger patrolling, and airborne remote sensing, to reduce the impact of animal poaching and protect valuable species like elephants, rhinos and tigers.
  • Matthew Ramspott (Frostburg State University) presented findings from a study using Landsat data to assess wetland change along the Louisiana coast. A key aspect of the analysis was the methodology used to automatically delineate the land/water interface. Results demonstrate the value of using remote sensing to monitor long-term change in coastal wetlands and assess impact from storm damage, flood management decisions and rising sea levels.
  • Robert Rose (Wildlife Conservation Society) outlined the top 10 conservation challenges that can be addressed using remote sensing. The list of challenges result from a NASA funded workshop in early 2013, and are defined according to 10 general themes: species distribution and abundance; species movement and life stages; ecosystem properties and processes; climate change; fast response; protected areas; ecosystem services; conservation effectiveness; land cover change and agricultural expansion; and degradation and disturbance regime. In each theme the objective is to focus on achievable conservation outcomes with clear pathways for putting technology into practice.
  • Robert Rose also spoke about the revitalization of the Conservation Remote Sensing Working Group (CRSWG), which aims to encourage discussion around four main topic areas: research and collaboration; capacity development; communications; and best practices. To join the conversation, just look for CRSWG on Google Groups and contact the group admin to get involved.

Interested in more information on these and other speakers? Exelis VIS will soon be posting copies of all the VISualize 2013 presentations to their website. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again next year at VISualize 2014.

World Wildlife FundAs thanks to WWF for opening its doors to VISualize, Exelis VIS and HySpeed Computing proudly contributed donations to WWF on behalf of the speakers. Pictured from left to right: Matt Hallas (Exelis VIS), Nasser Olwero (WWF), Charles Huang (WWF) and James Goodman (HySpeed Computing).

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