Threat Data Mining and Display Applications
Gathering data on wildland threats and focusing that information in a manner which is easy to comprehend is
important in developing a comprehensive threat early warning and monitoring system. Systematic data mining
of geospatial and other information content on the internet may provide a novel means for early detection and
assessment of ecosystem change and impending natural disturbances. Geospatial data are key to the detection,
assessment, and monitoring of the wide array wildland threats common across the USA. These projects are our
efforts to develop tools to mine threat information from the web and to display threat-related geospatial data
in a common, browser-based map viewing application.
In the past, it has been difficult to find geographically comprehensive and spatially explicit data (i.e., maps) to inform national, strategic-level decision making. Today, a lack of data is usually not the problem, but rather decision makers are faced with the daunting task of locating, analyzing and visualizing the many data themes in a rational manner. Systems are needed in which forest and rangeland policy makers and managers as well as scientists can access maps or other forms of projections of vulnerabilities, threats and risks to forests and rangelands from multiple competing or exacerbating stresses, including fire, invasive species, disease, pest outbreaks, climate change, fragmentation and land-use change. This system should be able to generate individual and composite maps using the major threats for western US forests. One product from the work associated with this focus area will be a west-wide, interactive mapping tool for multiple, interacting threats.
The WWETAC Threat News Explorer is a custom media search site that uses the Google news search engine to locate articles relevant to wildland threats. The site is a convenient way to track ongoing news about wildfires, bark beetles, climate change, and other important wildland threats. The site is hosted on an Amazon elastic cloud and is one of the first applications in the Forest Service that employs cloud computing technology. WWETAC welcomes comments and suggestions on the site.
The USDA Forest Service and other public land management agencies often compile and generate geospatial data as a result of their research and activities. In fact, it is estimated that over 1 million spatial data sets on 30,000 internet map servers are now posted by government agencies, universities and private organizations. The need to post geospatial data continues to grow as Federal land management agencies grapple with wide-ranging social and ecological issues with stakeholders and other interested external entities. Making these data available to Forest Service managers, researchers and the public has been hindered by several technical challenges, including the lack of a functional search engine to locate, assess and connect to the data. To address this issue, WWETAC has built an internet search engine and integrated it within a virtual earth viewer to assess global spatial data sets. This allows for the study of spatial distribution and occurrence of various wildland threats and the values they affect. Threats may include geospatial layers such as fire hazards and insect mortality risk. Values may include wildlife habitat, power lines, recreation sites, ski areas, historic trails, airsheds, residential structures, and USFWS critical habitat, etc. The system also allows for integration of internet and corporate spatial data to permit full exploration and analysis. The search engine is incorporated into our Open Source/Cloud Services viewer, which allows users to preview and add retrieved map service layers to other threat and resource layers. The search engine is also integrated within the new ArcGIS Explorer, which connects to a range of special data sources and is capable of performing geo-processing tasks in order to analyze spatial relationships. This will allow spatial data on wildfires, forest insects, climate projects, etc that are housed by different agency units, and/or available on the internet, to be viewed conjointly and examined for potential interactions.
Wildland Managers are often charged with monitoring vegetation conditions in geographically dispersed areas. An example of this are Fish and Wildlife Service personnel who, under the Endangered Species Act, are managing the recovery of listed species and may have multiple areas of interest (AOIs) spread across a large area that they must monitors. These AOIs can be nesting/foraging/roosting sites, sensitive plant locations, or habitat areas defined in recovery plans. These managers need a way to remotely monitor these areas for potential disturbances that may alter the function of these sensitive areas. This project aims to fulfill that need by creating an online Focused Early Warning System (FEWS) that allows managers to access summary information and maps derived from the NASA and RSAC disturbance detection projects.