Woodland Solutions Group (WSG) developed a next-generation aerial survey data collection system, Digital Mobile Sketch Map (DMSM), to streamline acquisition and enhance the quality of forest health data managed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Health Assessment and Applied Sciences Team (FHAAST).

FHAAST is responsible for mapping forest health issues across all 50 U.S. states and territories – a large undertaking accomplished through aerial surveys from small fixed-wing aircraft, ground assessments, and automated image processing of remotely sensed data. Prior to the roll out of DMSM, the USFS’ relied on an outdated data collection system that was difficult (and expensive) to maintain.

DMSM streamlines data collection efforts for the USFS by enabling aerial surveyors and ground observers to efficiently record and upload high-quality observations on forest health issues to a robust, enterprise database. The database, which integrates ArcGIS, helps to maintain data integrity and supports streamlined data management workflows.

To arrive at a solution that meets the USFS’ needs and budget, WSG conducted a thorough business requirements analysis, identified suitable technology, developed cost estimates, and created timelines for development. WSG then developed and implemented a custom solution, DMSM, to meet the USFS’ needs.

The DMSM application runs on tablets in a disconnected environment. It provides support for display of high-resolution base maps, the efficient collection of detailed forest health information, and results in consistent data collection throughout the U.S. Built on Esri technology, it seamlessly integrates with the USFS’ enterprise GIS infrastructure. It can be adapted to work in other regions by modifying aspects of the data model, including the host species, damage-causing agents, and severity categories.

WSG is currently under contract to support and maintain DMSM as well as upgrade additional components of the system. This includes an ArcGIS Pro add-in that supports data editing and an ArcGIS Pro Toolbox that calculates forest health risk assessments.

Woodland Solutions Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of DJ&A. Learn more about their capabilities here.

Key Services

  • Scoped, developed, implemented, and supported a mobile field data collection solution for national forest health monitoring.
  • Assessed available hardware and software technologies for offline data collection and enterprise data management.
  • Documented, clarified, prioritized, and implemented software requirements for challenging environments.
  • Continued support of ongoing operations and maintenance through close collaboration with U.S. Forest Service, contractors, and state agencies.

Value Added

The successful implementation of DMSM replaced an outdated system that was difficult and expensive to maintain. DMSM uses consumer-grade tablets, which provide 80% hardware cost savings compared to the USFS’ previous collection devices. It also leverages USFS’ investment in Esri technology, licensing, and GIS staff skills.

DMSM also enables the collection of more accurate and consistent data and reduces post-processing costs. User confidence in data has increased through added data integrity controls.

Through ongoing operations and maintenance work, WSG continues to provide a cost effective and robust solution that enables the USFS to meet their mandate to monitor the health of the nation’s forests.