Understanding Coastal Communities with Drones and Spatial Storytelling

Authors: Lucas Farmer*, Ohio Wesleyan University, Hannah Torres, University of Central Florida, Darby Relyea*, University of Vermont, Timothy Hawthorne, University of Central Florida, Christy Visaggi, Georgia State University, Kate Brandt, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nicholas Altizer, University of Central Florida, Michael Campos, University of Belize, Patricia Bencivenga, University of Central Florida
Topics: Remote Sensing, Development, Qualitative Research
Keywords: drones, UAV, Participatory GIS, spatial storytelling, Belize
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Coastal communities and islands on the Belize Barrier Reef are facing many hardships due to their high vulnerability to climate change and anthropogenic effects. Along with help from multiple community partners, our Citizen Science GIS team utilized consumer priced DJI Phantom 4 drones to capture high resolution imagery of the cayes and coastal communities of Belize. This imagery provides geospatial data to help explain observed land surface changes. Imagery gathered during the data collection process replaces outdated and low-resolution satellite imagery. ESRI’s Drone2Map software was used to process data and create orthomosaics of individual islands. These orthomosaics were then digitized to identify several aspects of the islands. Identified attributes include: how island boundaries changed over time, effects of mangrove loss, and types of structures (seawalls, buildings, docks). We discuss our open science mapping process and offer suggestions on how such processes can be used in other study sites to assist community partners in examining island and coastal communities. The work has significant implications for using geospatial technologies in Belize and globally to provide much needed local knowledge on the impacts and adaptations of these coastal and island communities.

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