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Association of American Geographers & Remote Sensing

Mark Alonzo

Looking down on New York from my airplane window, I was impressed by the well laid out grid of streets and lit up buildings below. It reminded me of a hyperspectral image, in that I knew when I arrived in the city, and got on the ground, there would be so much more to what I first saw. Remote sensing of imagery allows us to do just that; it allows an image to be more than just an impressive view from above and turns it into a rich source of data. The view from thousands of feet up, whether viewed from a plane window or as an image on a screen may contain the important pieces of information that researchers are seeking.

New York City is playing host to this year’s Association of American Geographers annual meeting. This weekend I have spoken with dozens of researchers, professors and students about their geography research and how they are using image analysis. The projects have involved time series analysis, classification, change detection and generating features and data to add to a GIS. The scope of the projects has ranged from public health to urban design to agricultural land use. The passion these geographers bring to much needed topics and their increased use of image analysis lets me know that the time we spend working with them is well spent.

Optical imagery is not the only remote sensing that is being utilized by geographers. Range finding tools that exploit data such as LiDAR and Synthetic Aperture Radar is playing an increasingly important role in finding the answers to complex geographic challenges.

Attending AAG for the first time, I’m excited to be exhibiting among over 7000 geographers, learning about their projects and challenges in working with imagery. Remote sensing has the ability to help geographers overcome their challenges in collecting and displaying important data that may otherwise be difficult to find. Next year in Los Angeles, I look forward to reconnecting with geographers I’ve met and learning what innovative and novel uses of remote sensing they have employed.

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