On Johnson et al (2017)

I thought this article was really interesting, as I didn’t know too much about UAVs and their uses (and access to their imagery). The article covered the uses of (and constraints) of imagery from UAVs, and offered a refined list of online or free sources of imagery and editing software to process these images or videos.

This relates to a discussion which we often discuss in class, about the availability of funding and funding’s ability to steer the direction of research. Open data, like Open Aerial Map and others, are incredibly useful for those who may have often-imaged areas to research, and it helps to reduce the cost of conducting research while still allowing knowledge-production to occur. It seems possible that with the costs of UAVs decreasing, this may help remote sensing knowledge production to continue without a lot of funding (if the area is accessible, if the researcher has access to an UAV and the knowledge to use it properly, and access to the sensor they need, if the resolution works for their purposes, etc.).

Further, there is also software to process these images for free (of which I was previously not aware). Though there were some listed that were pay-per-use, it was really interesting to learn that free programs exist for RS processing. I have yet to open these sources and investigate them myself, but they seem like a good step towards a lower threshold for learning about and conducting remote sensing or even just aerial photography processing. Granted, there is always a worry that VGI/PGIS will be inaccurate due to the low threshold that “non-experts” can contribute to these sites, but I think that for basic use or for use in a project where higher inaccuracy/coarseness in data can be afforded, it’s a good resource. Further, I think these programs should be used more in an educational environment to avoid reliance on a specific company and give students a greater breadth in learning about different software packages’ capabilities other than the name-brand or industry standard (see: ESRI).

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