3rd Annual ASPRS SAC GeoLeague Challenge sponsored by Northrop Grumman
to be presented at the ASPRS 2013 Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, March 24-28, 2013
The GeoLeague Challenge is an annual competition for students organized by the ASPRS Student Advisory Council. Registration form available here
Registration ends November 30th, 2012
Designing & Mapping Trails for the Boy Scouts of America: Mapping Algorithm Development & Visualization
2012 GeoLeague Challenge (2nd Annual) Review:
The 2012 ASPRS Annual Conference in Sacramento, California was the culmination of the second ever GeoLeague Challenge. Four different universities successfully made it to the presentation stage in California where they competed for the glory of being named the ASPRS GeoLeague Champions! The participants were from Virginia Tech University, University of Florida, University of New Hampshire, and University of South Carolina. Each team submitted unique and innovative solutions. In the end, the team from the University of South Carolina took second place and Virginia Tech University captured first place with its very thorough research proposal. As the winning team, Virginia Tech University’s ASPRS student chapter received $250. The students who participated received books that were graciously donated by ESRI, one year complimentary memberships in ASPRS, and their paper submission was highlighted in the July 2012 issue of Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing.
The student teams were made up of both undergraduate and graduate students, each with one faculty mentor. The teams were charged with developing a repeatable cost and time efficient remote sensing solution for updating the National Coastal Wetlands Inventory. The teams presented their solutions in two different mediums: a research proposal and a presentation. Each of these submissions was evaluated by our guest judges to determine the winner.
Now it’s your turn to enter the 2013 GeoLeague Challenge and compete for fame and prizes.
The 2011 Outdoor Foundation Report indicates that nearly 50 percent of all Americans participated in outdoor recreation, a slightly higher rate than 2010. The report shows that running, jogging, and trail running have the highest outdoor activity participation rates with almost 51 million participants. The following statistics in Figure 1 show that Trail Running has been among the preferred outdoor recreation activities for participants aged 6 and older.
Figure 1: Participation in the Gateway activities by all Americans, Aged 6 and Older. (Source: Outdoor Foundation Report, 2012)
With this growing interest in trail running, there is a desire to optimally map and navigate these trails. These maps should not only guide the users spatially but advise users on the condition and safety of the trails for various activities such as running, hiking, and biking.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are an organization that is instrumental in educating youth on the importance of outdoor recreation and natural resource preservation. Presently, there is limited spatial information regarding BSA trails (see: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/applications/trails.aspx). Therefore, a complete but simple application is required as of now to provide information about the locations, routes, conditions, length, safety, and usage of the trails. Furthermore, designing new trails needs to be done efficiently to reduce costs, preserve natural features, and provide safety to users of all trail activities. The 2013 SAC GeoLeague Challenge is focused at the BSA Philmont Ranch in New Mexico. This Challenge will go a long way towards helping BSA continue to provide the youth with outdoor recreation activities in more efficient and safe terms by employing the trail mapping methods presented.
Challenge Scope and Objectives:
The challenge is twofold:
• Make a recommendation to the BSA Philmont Ranch Trail Development Committee (BSA PRTDC) on the development of a new multi-purpose recreation trail. The trail design specifics are located in the Trail Design Requirements section. The specifics of the trail development algorithm are to be described in detail in the methodology section of the project report. The tool must be submitted upon request for use by BSA PRTDC as they intend to use this tool at BSA properties across the country.
• Create a map and a detailed visualization framework for trail mapping in the Philmont Ranch study area. The map must be capable of visualizing the trail conditions based on environmental, aesthetic, safety, and practical factors.
When resampling layers or rasterizing vector layers, attention must be paid to desired trail widths.
Algorithm Design Considerations:
This challenge assumes that when recreational trails are properly designed, users are more likely to stay on designated routes if the trails provide appropriate interest, challenge, experiences and safety (Dolesh, 2004; Vail & Heldt, 2004). Furthermore, there is interest for the design to accommodate ATVs (all Terrain Vehicles) within the route chosen for the given dataset. ATV use for outdoor activities and on trails is expected to increase over the years [Synder et al., 2008; Cordell et al. 2005]. Assuming that both ATVs and others will share the same trail, it is important to ensure safety between the ATVs and other trail users. ATVs in particular have more impact on the environment than other users. A method to mitigate ATV impact on the environment has to be considered [Synder, 2008]. Preferred soil types to use or avoid are essential in this design (MN DNR, 2004; Tuttle & Griggs, 1987). If both ATVs and other users are to cooperate, potential conflicts should be addressed. For instance, noise is a major concern. Also crossings between ATVs and other users should be avoided.
The Least-Cost Path (LCP) algorithm is recommended for use to generate optimal paths for the trail design. Several GIS packages exist with this functionality and will assist in generating desirable paths based on a series of defined constraints. This method has been used in locating hiking trails [Lee and Stucky, 1998; Xiang, 1996]. Vendor literature (e.g. ESRI) also exists for GIS tools to help users design these optimal paths. The Least-Cost Path algorithm works by identifying a connected path of pixels in a discretized landscape that minimizes the ‘cost’ of moving through the landscape from one place to another [Snyder et al., 2008]. To employ the LCP algorithm, the following steps shall be considered (from Snyder, 2008):
• Resistance values are calculated for raster cells in the study area for each trail attribute criteria. The resistance value may represent time, distance, difficulty, risk, specific environmental factors (e.g. hydrology, vegetation, soil, animal habitat) or some combination of these attributes. This is the ‘cost’ involved in following a defined route;
• The resistance values for each criterion shall be weighted and combined to create an aggregate resistance value for each route, or a resistance surface for the landscape;
• A kind of shortest path algorithm (e.g. Dijkstra, 1959) in a GIS tool shall be used to calculate total ‘costs,’ or the sum of the total resistance values, to move between a specified point to a final point in a defined landscape. This creates an accumulated or total cost surface; and.
• The final step is to utilize a GIS tool to cost the trails and identify the path between a destination and origin through the accumulated cost surface (created in the previous step) which minimizes the sum of the resistance values included in the path. Conversely, this function maximizes the suitability of a set of connected points or cells forming an ATV trail. In this application, smaller resistance values will be the more desirable, suitable or favorable trail conditions.
Trail Design Requirements:
While not attempting to structure the design, basic requirements of your trail design should cover how to achieve the following:
• Connectivity - Trails should connect to important access points within the project area by studying the available mapping information from the BSA. connect trails to state and regional network of trails ;
• Safety – Trails should account for steepness of slopes and erosion probability
• Cost - Trail improvements should account for removal of vegetation, construction of built features (bridges, board walks, erosion controls)
• Preservation - Trails should traverse through open space as much as possible- i.e. preserve natural habitats and vegetation;
• Usability - Trail to allow for multiple uses (bike, ride, hike, ATV etc.) in safe manner;
• Database Management - Unique IDs for all segments with useful attributes, semantics and topology and contains at least the route, status (open/close), usage (often to least etc), use (jog, bike).
If the GL Team identifies any requirement not listed above, that requirement shall be stated with reasons provided to justify its inclusion. The new activities may change the order of the requirements stated above. If the additions are justified as necessary for the project, changes to the requirements shall be communicated to the BSA PRTDC in the final report.
A final presentation will be a digital map (or maps) showing topographic detail of the designed trails and a report on how it may be used. The map should be user friendly. It should have predicted life cycles and maintenance provisions. Other report on accessibility, cost to replicate for the whole region (if a selection of tiles were used) and compatibility to the existing maps should be covered as well.
Figure 2: Project Area. Magnified on the right for more details (Courtesy Google Earth © 2012)
The Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America's largest national High Adventure Base. It covers 137,000 acres - about 214 square miles - of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) range of the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico. Philmont has high mountains with rough terrain and elevations that range from 6,500 to 12,441 feet. Nearby towns include Cimarron (five miles north of Philmont Scout Ranch Headquarters, has a population of about 800), Springer is 25 miles southeast of the ranch, Eagle Nest is about 20 miles west of Cimarron and Raton, with a population of about 7,000, is the largest town near Philmont Scout Ranch. It is on Interstate 25, below the historic Raton Pass. In the 19th century, the pass provided the route between Bent's Fort, Colorado, and Fort Union, New Mexico, and followed American Indian trails across the Raton Mesa Group. The interstate highway crosses the same pass.
Data will be provided electronically to participating teams after registration. The datasets will consist of the following:
Imagery - Tiling scheme attached (transparent pink tiles in Figure 2)
1 feet mosaic MrSID file;
LiDAR data - RAR compressed files;
LiDAR derived DEM - ERDAS IMG file;
Shapefiles - consisting of rails and roads present in the project area; and
Metadata file - providing information on the datasets provided.
There may be various ways and methods that can be used in locating and recording attributes. These methods should be well documented within the GIS metadata and stored within a geodatabase should the BSA PRTDC request the data. The University of New Mexico has a digital library of GIS data for the state of New Mexico. This site has an AOI tool which allows users to search for the Philmont Scout Ranch or other layers they deem relevant to the challenge.
Metadata files will be included in the electronic files delivered to participants. To reduce the data processing requirements, it is sufficient for GeoLeague teams to focus their efforts on a specific study area within the Philmont Scout Ranch. Thus, choosing a manageable area to determine a solution is sufficient for the required proof of concept.
Form a group of at least 5 undergraduate and/or graduate students and a faculty advisor in your region (at least 3 students must be ASPRS student members by the registration deadline and remain student members through the Annual Conference). If you have trouble meeting this requirement, please feel free to contact us. You may also enlist the help of ASPRS members in your surrounding communities. However, students must do all of the work. Non-students can only provide guidance!
To be eligible to win, please fill out a registration form located [INSERT LINK], and return it to the SAC Deputy Chair (email@example.com) prior to November 30, 2012.
Proposal Deliverables and Deadlines:
At least one representative from each team will be required to attend the 2013 Annual ASPRS Conference in Baltimore to present the project. You will be required to present 2 deliverables at the conference:
A scientific paper (following the guidelines presented by Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing (PE&RS) for Highlight Articles online) describing in detail your solution to this year’s challenge, including background on the project, your methods (algorithm development & mapping techniques), graphic illustrations, and the results pertaining to your solution. The only exception to the Highlight Article guidelines is the word limit has changed from 2500 words to 4000 words. The new 4000 word limit and formatting guidelines will be strictly enforced. Lack of adherence to these guidelines will result in the report not being evaluated.
A PowerPoint presentation where each team has 10 minutes to present at the ASPRS Annual Conference GeoLeague Challenge Session. This is each team’s opportunity to sway the judges that their solution has the best methodology and results. Presentations will be stopped at 10 minutes.
All materials must be submitted by 8pm EST on February 25th, 2013.
Both your PowerPoint presentation and paper need to be uploaded to the ASPRS ftp site no later than 8:00pm EST on Monday, February 25, 2013. No late submissions will be evaluated.
FTP Site: ftp://birdseye.asprs.org
Login: ASPRS/FTP_USER (all caps)
Please place your materials in the GeoLeague folder with the name of your team in the heading (ex. teamname_paper.doc, teamname_presentation.ppt).
The solutions will be evaluated both before and during the 2013 ASPRS Annual Conference by judges from different sectors of the geospatial industry (Government Employees, Students, Private Sector Employees, Faculty, etc.).
Importance, relevance, & applicability of solution to the stated Challenge objectives – 15 pts
This metric assesses whether the project report is responsive to the objectives and requirements stated in the Challenge.
• How does the solution address an important problem? (i.e., why is efficient mapping and design of outdoor recreation trails important?)
Creativity of solution – 10 pts
The creativity of the solution will be specifically addressed by these questions:
• Does the solution challenge an existing method(s), develop new methodologies, or incorporate innovative technologies?
• If so, what effect will the results have on concepts or methods that drive this field?
Technical/scientific merit – 30 pts
This metric assesses whether the approach is technically sound, whether the methods are appropriate, and whether there are clear project goals and objectives consistent with the Challenge objectives. Solutions should address the approach/soundness of design and judges will consider the following questions:
• Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the project?
• Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative approaches?
• Is the trail design methodology, algorithm and final map capable of being replicated in other areas on a larger scale?
• Does the solution contain a plan and intended end-user for testing and transitioning the methodology to large scale operational capacity?
• Does the solution indicate how the proposed methodology is an improvement over existing trail design algorithms in terms of efficiency/cost or accuracy and timeliness?
• Does the solution present minimal, achievable costs (time and money) to personnel and available software/algorithms?
Mapping/Visualization – 15 pts
• Is the mapping framework comprehensive in including all necessary factors including a well organized/thorough geodatabase, maintenance/update plan, visualization techniques to create appealing maps, etc?
• Do the cartographic elements of the map serve the function of the Boy Scouts in depicting all trails in the study area effectively, accurately, and efficiently?
Presentation Content – 20 pts
• Does the PowerPoint presentation show the general process by which the methodology was created?
• Does the PowerPoint effectively convey why the team’s solution is the most effective and comprehensive?
• Is the PowerPoint presentation informative but understandable by a wide range of audiences?
• Does the presenter provide a compelling argument for why his/her team has the most thorough solution?
Project Report Format– 10 pts
• Does the paper follow the PE&RS format guidelines for Highlight Articles?
• Are all project report format items addressed clearly and concisely?
Recognition and a published Highlight Article in PE&RS, one year complimentary membership in ASPRS for all first place team members, $250 to the winning ASPRS student chapter, gift certificates to the ASPRS Bookstore, and many more prizes to be announced!
Please contact the ASPRS SAC Deputy Chair if you have any questions.
ASPRS Student Advisory Council Deputy Chair
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Dijkstra, E. W. (1959). A note on two problems in connection with graphs. Numerische Mathematik, 1, 269–271.
Dolesh, R. J. (2004). Tough terrain: The conﬂicts associated with multi-use trails. Parks & Recreation, 57–63 October 2004
Janet Y. Ferguson (1998). Location and Design of Recreational Trails: Application of GIS Technology. MSc Thesis. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Master of Science in Geography [Online, September 09, 2012] from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-42298-164319/unrestricted/THESIS.PDF
Jeffrey L. Marion, Jeremy F. Wimpey, and Logan O. Park (2011). The science of trail surveys: The science of trail surveys: “Recreation ecology provides new tools for managing wilderness trails tools for managing wilderness trails”. PARK SCIENCE • VOLUME 28 • NUMBER 3 • FALL 2011.
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Minnesota DNR, Division of Trails & Waterways. (2004). OHV Trail Designation Rapid Environmental Assessment Checklist. St. Paul, MN, March 30, 2004 (10pp).
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Snyder, A. S., Whitmore J., H., Schneider I., E., Becker D,.R. (2008). “Ecological criteria, participant preferences and location models: A GIS Approach toward ATV Trail Planning”. Applied Geography 28 (2008) 248–258 [Online, September 09, 2012] from http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/2008/nrs_2008_snyder_002.pdf
Tuttle, M., & Griggs, G. (1987). Soil erosion and management recommendations at three state vehicular recreation areas, California. Environmental Geology and Water Sciences, 10(2), 111–123.
Vail, D., & Heldt, T. (2004). Governing snowmobilers in multiple-use landscapes: Swedish and Maine (USA) cases. Ecological Economics, 48, 469–483.
Webb, R. H., & Wilshire, H. G. (1983). Environmental effects of off-road vehicles. New York: Springer.Xiang, W.-N. (1996). A GIS based method for trail alignment planning. Landscape and Urban Planning, 11–23.