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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Public participation to estimate forest fuels loading : the development and testing of an application for remote sensing Ferster, Colin Jay


Advances in mobile computing provide an increasing number of possibilities for public participation in scientific research (PPSR). For example, a growing number of people have access to mobile computing devices, such as smartphones, equipped with sensors including a camera, global positioning system, the ability to record observations, and the ability transfer them over a network for collection and analysis. Literature has shown that PPSR-based approaches can have positive outcomes for volunteers (e.g., opportunities to pursue interests, develop skills, and influence decisions), for resource management (by providing data to inform management strategies), and for science. The objective of this dissertation is to explore how volunteers can use smartphones to collect data to inform forest management in a remote sensing project. The management of wildfires in communities near forested areas was chosen as a case study, and a smartphone application was developed and tested for collecting observations of the amount and arrangement of forest fuels by participants with a range of forestry experience living in fire-affected communities. First, to establish context, other projects using smartphones to collect Earth observation data were reviewed including related terms, concepts, challenges, and opportunities to identify methods of data collection and data processing. Second, questionnaires were given to the volunteers before and after using the application to collect data and were analyzed to understand the social and management considerations including the volunteers’ motivations, attitudes, and behaviours, and the potential of using a PPSR approach for wildfire management. Third, the locations where volunteers submitted data were re-measured and the quality of the data were assessed to provide guidelines for ensuring attribute accuracy and logical consistency. Fourth, the smartphone data was combined with multispectral remote sensing data and topography data to make estimates over broader areas. Finally, a framework was presented to direct future efforts using volunteered remote sensing data. This dissertation demonstrates an approach with potential to apply technology to help inform forest management in communities, with potentially positive outcomes for volunteers, communities, and forest managers.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada