Leafsnap UK

Browsing species by scientific or common names
Browsing species by scientific or common names

taken in Weston Bank Park Sheffield (UK) January 2016
taken in Weston Bank Park Sheffield (UK) January 2016

How long have we all dreamed of an app that could provide us automatically with reliable plant id? Well, Leafsnap UK may not fully get there but it is already a huge step ahead. Leafsnap UK uses visual recognition software to identify tree species from photos of their leaves. Its leaf recognition technology (think of face recognition but for trees) was developed by the US Leafsnap teams at Columbia University, University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution. The Natural History Museum in London and the botanists working at the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity ensured the accurate adaptation of British tree species.
In order to identify a tree, you first have to photograph a leaf on a white background. Then, Leafsnap will suggest tree species with similar leafs to you. Now confirm the tree’s identity by checking the suggested images and text for matches. In a quick test in Weston Bank Park in Sheffield (UK), I still had to choose between 25 different species. However, that was already much quicker than other plant id apps, which are basically electronic versions of plant id books and where you have to go through the whole id process manually. An Android version is planned at the time of this post.
Leafsnap is available for free, but currently for iOS only in the AppStore
leafsnap-platanus-hispanicus-screenshot-on-grey-753x500
leafsnap-platanus-hispanicus-bark-on-grey-753x500

VR First initiative by Crytek aims to create VR labs at universities around the globe

Crytek, a company famous for its first person computer games with vast landscape areas in cutting edge visual quality, has launched the VR First Initiative. Objective of the initiative is to support universities around the globe in launching Virtual Reality (VR) labs, where the next generation of computer programmers and designers can practice.

I’ve been involved in a couple of visualisation labs at European and Canadian universities and it was always the biggest challenge to manage and update the hardware over time. When the first Oculus Rift came out, I already wondered whether we could replace resource intense facilities such as visualisation domes (360º projection domes) with rather affordable and easy to update VR glasses. It looks as if Crytek is implementing this approach on an interconnected global scale now and with their knowledge in visualisation, this will be a most interesting initiative to watch.


Interview with Dr. James Palmer about scenic assessment

It has been 50 years since the White House Conference on Natural Beauty took a hard look at the state of scenic America. What has happened to this country’s scenic assets since then?

In an interview with ASLA, Dr. James Palmer, is looking back on the assessment of scenic quality in the US and summarizing today’s state of research. At the end of the research, he is finally giving an outlook where future research should go.

https://www.asla.org/ContentDetail.aspx?id=47662

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 23.24.25
Image: Jim Palmer / ASLA 2015.

Information Technology and Renewable Energy

Special issue released: The April 2015 issue of Environmental Impact Assessment Review, edited by Lorenz Hilty and Bernd Page, provides an overview of ICT-based approaches to facilitate the assessment of renewable energy solutions.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01959255/52

Special Issue: Critical Approaches to Landscape Visualization

Special Issue on Critical Visualization

Recent advances in landscape visualization have dramatically increased our ability to portray past, present, and future conditions across a range of scales from site to region, altering the ways in which people perceive their environments and influencing changes in social and cultural practices. While landscape architects and planners have long employed representational methods, the proliferation of new digital technologies for visualization is rapidly outpacing the theoretical grounding needed to meaningfully guide design and planning outcomes. This special issue attempts to bridge this practice–theory gap by bringing together diverse contemporary practices, methods, and theoretical perspectives in order to build a shared understanding of the relationships between visualization techniques and the knowledge they produce.

http://sites.psu.edu/dogblog/critical-visualization/

*** The full issue is open access until Nov. 20 ***

Special Issue: Critical Approaches to Landscape Visualization
Edited by Katherine Foo, Emily Gallagher, Ian Bishop and Annette M. Kim
Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 142, Pages 1-244, October 2015

Robotics and intelligent systems in architecture

Machines of Loving Grace - The city as a distributed robot
Machines of Loving Grace – The city as a distributed robot

Issue no. 36 of uncube, “Uncanny Valley”, is taking a look into the latest developments in robotics and intelligent systems in architecture. If this is for architecture, what could be the potential in landscape architecture?! Well worth a look:

Uncanny Valley

Digital Landscape Architecture Conference 2015

With quite some delay, a short recap of this year’s Digital Landscape Architecture Conference DLA 2015. After the brilliant DLA 2014 conference abroad, this year’s conference took place in its home town of Dessau again (before it will move to Istanbul for 2016).

DLA 2015 Group Picture

The first key note was delivered by Prof. Brian Orland from PennState and at the time, visiting Weddle Chair at the University of Sheffield: “Geodesign – The Family Car of GIS“. The main argument was that geodesign is still a black box but stakeholders need to participate in telling the story. As key stones Brian suggested the following three elements and illustrated them with the example of hydraulic fracturing:
– Storytelling
– System Exploration
– Group Interactions

Another highlight of the conference were the presentation by Prof. Carl Steinitz and colleagues of the “Coastal Georgia 2050 Geodesign Synthesis Workshop” and the hands-on workshop “Digital Workflow for a Dynamic Geodsign System” delivered by Hrishikesh Ballel, PhD student of Prof. Carl Steinitz. The tool can be tested under http://www.geodesignstudy.com/

Geodesign Tool

Prof. Stephen Ervin further pushed forward the theoretical framework of Geodesign: “A Proposed Map of a Geodesign Research Map.”

For these and further presentations and workshops at the DLA2015 Conference, please see the peer-reviewed conference proceedings published by Wichmann:
Peer-reviewed conference proceedings DLA2015

Postdoctorate Position in Geospatial Visualisation

The Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) in Leipzig invites applications from highly qualified and motivated individuals for a

Postdoctorate Position in Geospatial Visualisation
(full-time, salary based on TV-L13,
for a period of four years)

to begin on 1 January 2016 on work on current research projects, develop new possibilities of visualisation in digital atlases, create other visualisations and contribute to maps for publications of the IfL.

The complete job advertisement is available online at: www.ifl-leipzig.de/en/news/jobvacancies.

You can find further information about the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft
at www.leibniz-gemeinschaft.de

Evaluating presentation formats of local climate change in community planning with regard to process and outcomes

I am excited to present the following research paper in Landscape and Urban Planning because it summarizes the work my colleagues and I put into my favorite research project, the Kimberley Climate Adaptation Project KCAP. It was very rewarding working closely with the local community, visualizing different development scenarios and their interactions with climate change impacts. Great to see that about 70 recommendations from the original visioning process were adopted in various policy documents and a dozen actually implemented. The paper looks in more detail at one of the implemented mitigation measures, a flood retention area along the river that leads through Kimberley.

The paper is open access and can be downloaded for free at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615000651

This figure shows the Kimberley town center with an overlay of potential flood areas as identified in the municipal flood risk study (highlighted through circles) and the areas for future mountain pine beetle susceptibility, derived from the susceptibility model (orange/dark shading in black/white for high susceptibility and yellow/light shading in black/white for medium). It led to the conclusion that increased mountain pine beetle damage will increase the amount of dead wood and therefore increase flood risk from debris jams at the highlighted bottlenecks (geodata© 2009 Google)
This figure shows the Kimberley town center with an overlay of potential flood areas as identified in the municipal flood risk study (highlighted through circles) and the areas for future mountain pine beetle susceptibility, derived from the susceptibility model (orange/dark shading in black/white for high susceptibility and yellow/light shading in black/white for medium). It led to the conclusion that increased mountain pine beetle damage will increase the amount of dead wood and therefore increase flood risk from debris jams at the highlighted bottlenecks (geodata© 2009 Google)

Reference:
Olaf Schroth, Ellen Pond, Stephen R.J. Sheppard, Evaluating presentation formats of local climate change in community planning with regard to process and outcomes, Landscape and Urban Planning, Available online 1 May 2015, ISSN 0169-2046, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.03.011.

Abstract:
This study synthesizes two evaluations of a local climate change planning process in a rural town in British Columbia (Canada), which was supported through landscape visualizations. First, the impact of the visualizations, based on scientific environmental modeling and presented in three different presentation formats, verbal/visual presentation, posters and a virtual globe, was evaluated with regard to immediate impacts during the process. Second, the long-term impacts on decision-making and actual outcomes were evaluated in a retrospective evaluation 22 months after the end of the initial planning process. Two results are highlighted: according to the quantitative pre-/post-questionnaires, the visualizations contributed to increased awareness and understanding. Most importantly, the retrospective evaluation indicated that the process informed policy, operational and built changes in Kimberley, in which the landscape visualizations played a role. The post interviews with key decision-makers showed that they remembered most of the visualizations and some decision-makers were further using them, particularly the posters. The virtual globe seemed to be not a “sustainable” display format suitable for formal decision-making processes such as council meetings though. That may change with the further mainstreaming of visualization technologies or mobile devices. Until then, we recommend using display formats that can be re-used following a specific planning event such as an Open House, to ensure on-going support for effective decision-making over the longer-term.

Research Highlights:
• Visualizations in a climate change planning process were assessed as very helpful by local stakeholders and residents.
• Visualizations presented in a virtual globe facilitated understanding and increased awareness during an open house.
• 22 months later most decision-makers still remembered or used the visualizations.
• Visualizations embedded into process informed policy, operational and built changes.
• Although the virtual globe presentation format was effective during the process it was less so in the long term.

Keywords:
Climate change; Participatory decision-making; Landscape visualization; Virtual globe; Process evaluation; Policy outcomes

New York City Street Trees by Species

Jill Hubley, a Brooklyn web developer whose last project involved mapping local chemical spills, made the chlorophyllous cartography with data from the 2005-2006 Street Tree Census. Zoomed out, it looks kind of like oodles of stained cells under a microscope:

Atlas of NY Tree Species
Atlas of NY Tree Species

http://jillhubley.com/blog/nyctrees