Landscape Watch Hampshire is an innovative new community project to characterise the county’s landscape in 2005 and 2013 by analysing aerial photos held by Hampshire County Council and thereby identify the changes that have taken place over a period of eight years.
Source: Landscape Watch Hampshire
Runs offline: no
- Article updated on 18/04/2016 to include two suggestion made by Landscape Watch team (no need to register as user and a mention that it is a pilot study)
Landscape Watch Hampshire is a web app fostered by numerous institutions and entities that has as objective to detect through crowdsourcing the changes in the landscape of Hampshire County (SW London). It’s a pilot study that, depending on results, it could be replicated in other areas, even outside the UK.
To enable this citizen collaboration, it has designed a system whereby the user can view the aerial photograph taken in 2005 and compare it with the pair obtained in 2013. Thus, the collaborators can observe the changes in the landscape or land uses existing between both images and mark them through a system of categories and percentages that will allow to create detailed maps of landscape along with associated statistics.
The system works as follows:
- The user can open an account with a public name and an email, although it isn’t a required step. When you open the account you can choose if you want to appear in the ranking of main contributors (people who have reviewed more cells).
- Once logged, you can select whether to collate a random location or pick a specific location. This last possibility shows you a map (it may take a while to load) with the grid of the territory (you must zoom).
- At first, the system displays a tutorial that guides the user through the platform and the different phases of characterization of the existing landscape. Landscape Watch Hampshire want to make clear that it is a tool in which is not necessary to have knowledge about image interpretation or maps.
- Landscape classification is performed based on 7 categories: cultivated, building, other vegetation, non-vegetated, tree canopy, water and park. Each category supports different elements that can be consulted from the “i” symbol. There’s also an index of existing land uses (“Class index”) which can help in the choice.
- After selecting the category, it prompts the user to estimate the percentage of change experienced by the landscape. To help in this task, the comparison screen is divided into grids representing 1% of the cell, allowing to provide a value which, without being accurate (the most interesting thing is to record the changes in the landscape), it provides data of interest. On the sides of the screen, a pair of bars show the different percentages of landscapes by type. These bars allow also a quick access to the editing screen.
- Once the task is completed, it is saved and you can access to another picture. There is also an option to discuss about the images in a forum built for this purpose.
http://www.hampshire.landscapewatch.com/tutorial.php (videos that extend some of the explanations of the tutorial. They may take a while to load)
https://theodi.org/lunchtime-lectures/landscape-watch-hampshire-crowdsourcing-landscape-change (interesting presentations format organized during the lunch time)
Images: Screenshots 11/04/2016. Landscape Watch
The landscape is probably one of the elements that greater degree of identity provides to a territory. Its changes is one of the most visible impacts of human activity and possibly, one of the worst rated because the assessment of the landscape has a high level of subjectivity. Studying its evolution is key and in this task, the landscape maps, which can serve to define areas to conserve and profile the most suitable protection policies, are useful tools. The problem is that, although the computerized techniques to identify and characterize the landscape have advanced in recent years, human interpretation remains more reliable.
One of the most common tools to perform this type of analysis are the geographic information systems, which provide multiple opportunities but have as handicap the initial learning curve required. With system devised by the various entities that work in Landscape Watch Hampshire, however, it can exploit the potential of those interested in collaborating through a simple interface that, without highlighting either by design or by its performance, it may be useful for generating useful data. The use of crowdsourcing can also serve to raise awareness about the importance of landscape resources and can complement other public participation processes such as landscape assessment surveys. The initial tutorial highlights, although it’s missing an option to go back in the steps, being necessary to start it again to clarify any doubts that may arise.