CED Faculty and PhD Student Present Work at Visual Resource Stewardship Conference

Visual Resource Stewardship Conference presentation
Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois
November 7 – 9, 2017
Attending and presenting: Brian Orland, Jon Calabria, Micah Taylor

PhD student Micah Taylor joined CED faculty members Brian Orland and Jon Calabria in a presentation at a recent conference at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. The Visual Resource Stewardship conference, Landscape and Seaside Management in a Time of Change, was supported by partners such as the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, all of which deal with the issues of landscape views and viewsheds affected by development and climate change.

Working with other researchers at UGA, the University of Florida and Penn State, Micah and CED faculty presented a prototype mobile phone app that will assist in the gathering of data about cultural landscapes and environmental changes on the land. Their presentation was titled Identifying the Valued Ordinary as a Step Toward Scenic Landscape Conservation.

Using an Augmented Reality (AR) public feedback approach to identifying “ordinary” elements in the landscape, the app is designed to capture resident- and visitor-identified places of scenic, cultural, and historic value. It uses the Altamaha Scenic Historic Byway along the southeastern coast as its “test site”. Taylor developed the app to reveal historic and predicted environmental data and included an auditory explanation that uses information and narratives from local residents. (Third year MLA student Arianne Wolf developed the narratives based on resident interviews collected as part of a related study.)

The app has two versions, one using a paper target for static display and a second, non-visual, app that is safe to engage while driving in a car. The app employs descriptions/narratives about ecological, cultural and visual resources that play when the car encounters a geo-located virtual record of a specific area of interest. The application also asks for user feedback—voices are recorded to avoid phone manipulation while driving—that can be used by the researchers to identify what is valued in the scenic landscape. These results can be coupled with a GIS-derived land cover preference model to use in future scenic value identifications.

The researchers, consultants, and agency personnel attending the conference in general are concerned about including visual aspects of communication and decision making for natural resources. The Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center managed by the University of Chicago/Argonne for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The UGA presentation included work by Brian Orland, Jon Calabria, Micah Taylor, Meredith Welch-Devine, Arianne Wolfe, University of Georgia; Timothy Murtha, University of Florida; and Tara Mazurczyk and Lacey Goldberg of Penn State University