Riverside attends 97th American Meteorological Society (AMS) 2017 Annual Meeting

By Carroll Hood and George Smith

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Brian Mischel briefing the NESDIS/STAR leadership.

AMS 2017 in Seattle was a very energetic event with record-setting attendance. Most of the new attendees seemed to be students or young professionals, which added to the overall feeling of excitement at the sessions and in the exhibit hall. This is a robust and comprehensive scientific seminar. At any point in time, one can choose from probably 20-30 technical sessions being conducted in parallel. The depth and breadth of topics is staggering, offering an excellent learning opportunity.

The exhibit area was smaller than in past years, but traffic through the hall was generally brisk and Riverside’s booth was regularly well-attended. We had scheduled presentations of our support and capabilities to a variety of NOAA leadership including Steve Volz, Mark Paese, and Margarita Gregg of NESDIS, and Louis Ucellini and Mary Erickson of NWS. Brian Mischel, Director of D.C. based Federal programs, lined up our Federal customers to come by for these scheduled presentations. For example, we invited Vencore (our prime on the recently won SETS contract) to several presentations with NESDIS leadership. Listening to those discussions, it was obvious that our relationship with NOAA, based on many years of solid performance, was a key factor in the Vencore Team being selected.

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Presentation at the Riverside booth. 

NOAA and NASA had big exhibit areas strategically located near the entrance. They were big enough to hold mini-seminars throughout the event. Some others (i.e., Raytheon, Harris, Ball, Lockheed Martin, etc.) had big booths close to the front as well. The Riverside booth was situated on the corner of a main aisle and cross-aisle. The coffee and food tables were just around the corner which helped bring in traffic. It also didn’t hurt that we were situated next to ESRI. They always draw a crowd, especially one that has an interest in geospatial decision support. Riverside was also represented at the Asheville booth as a member of the Collider offering another opportunity to showcase our commitment to NOAA’s mission.

Riverside provided a presentation of our work on the development of our Flood Inundation Map (FIM) product: RiverTrak. This included information on the use of drone-acquired photogrametry data to update digital elevation maps and thereby produce more accurate FIMs for emergency management or water resource decision makers. Riverside is planning a follow-on session for the 2018 AMS meeting in Austin, TX to continue to address adding value to weather and water forecasts, this time through improved communication.

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Riverside employee, Erin, presenting her poster at the AMS 2017 Annual Conference.

Over 20 Riverside personnel attended the AMS meeting, many as part of work they’re doing on SciTech tasks for NESDIS. Riverside employees presented several papers and chaired numerous AMS sessions as part of our overall support to the Society. Many of our staff work on-site and tend to be isolated within their respective projects. They are generally aware of the good work we do at JPSS, OPPA, TPIO, STAR, and NCEI-Stennis, but seldom get a chance to interact with fellow colleagues working other projects. Attending one another’s presentation allowed them additional insight into the variety of work Riverside is currently providing. We held an enjoyable dinner for all Riverside personnel in attendance, allowing them an opportunity to socialize outside the work environment.

The world through the AMS prism is both large and small. Large in the sense of the diversity of people, ideas, and topics that are addressed. Small in the sense that basically the same set of weather geeks (and we proudly count ourselves among the fold) attend year after year. Having staff that has been working with NOAA and NASA for more than 30 years, this conference allows them to see friends and colleagues they might not otherwise run into. We share a common bond knowing that our work helps us better understand and preserve the world that we all share as home.

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Riverside employees having fun at the booth.

Riverside to offer drone services

By Ian Hageman, GIS Specialist and FAA certified remote pilot; and Sean McFeely, Product Manager

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The use of unmanned systems (a.k.a. drone, UAS, UAV) has increased rapidly over the past few years. This growth has increased even more over the past couple of months as the FAA has relaxed requirements and regulations for commercial drone operation in August of 2016.

The use of UAS (unmanned aerial systems) is a cutting edge, low cost, and high efficiently platform for data. Unlike data collection with the typical satellite or manned aircraft, UAS offers on demand, and timely results. These results can often times be same day. Riverside is excited to be at the forefront of this technology and now offers a portfolio of drone services.

Some of these drone services include:

  • High resolution aerial imagery (between 3-10 cm spatial resolution)
  • High resolution elevation models (DEM, DSM, contours, 3D point cloud)
  • Floodplain mapping
  • Flood monitoring (pre/post flood aerial videos and photos)
  • Volumetric calculations (erosion, deposition, quarry/landfill)
  • Infrastructure inspection (Full HD video inspection of bridges, dams, infrastructure)
  • Agricultural mapping (vegetation mapping, crop analysis, NDVI)

One of the most exciting uses of the drone technology is the ability to update existing and outdated datasets. The landscape and topography of the Earth is dynamic, and is constantly changing over time with rivers changing course, erosion, deposition, and construction projects. With drones, the ability to continuously update these surfaces yields more accurate results and rendering of the current landscape. For example, say that you have an elevation model of a river corridor through a community that was created 5 years ago. Say this community got flooded 2 years ago and there have been some river mitigation and construction work since the flood to prevent future flooding. With the use of Riverside’s UAS, Riverside can now go fly the areas that were newly constructed, process the data and incorporate this new elevation surface into the already existing elevation surface. Depending on the size of the area, this can even be done same day with mapping grade accuracy!

Riverside is excited to now offer this cutting edge technology as a service, and Ian Hageman (GIS Specialist and FAA certified remote pilot) is on staff in Fort Collins, CO to assist in all drone and UAS needs and support.