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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Research Project #445168

Research Project: Contributing to a UAS/UAV Fleet Management System and Imagery Data Management System with USDA-ARS and Partnerships for Data Innovations (PDI)

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Project Number: 3042-21660-001-008-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

The National Measurement and Monitoring Innovations for Environmental and Sustainable Agricultural Systems project was established in Lincoln, NE in FY2023. There is a critical need to modernize ARS research data capture technologies and streamline data collection, integration, analytics, storage, and sharing processes and systems, including expanding the environment and natural resources data we collect and automating the way we capture and process the data. With rapidly evolving Federal data management, access, and cybersecurity policies, ARS requires data technology research that will help equip our scientists with technologies that help them maintain data compliance with those policies while delivering agility, innovation, and relevance. This project will lead the development, assessment, and deployment of high priority, cost effective IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, agricultural data standardization and integration, big data tools and analytics for soil organic carbon (SOC) and greenhouse gas (GHG) flux measurement and monitoring, environmental feedback, and data-driven agricultural decision-making. The project will innovate data automation, integration, and visualization through operational leadership of the USDA ARS Partnerships for Data Innovations (PDI). This is envisioned as a data science and technology project delivering novel cost-effective sensors and process and data integration innovations. This will be a highly collaborative project with researchers, technicians, and data managers across ARS research units and our university partners. This specific agreement covers our collaborative work with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT).

This project will focus on providing input towards the development of a Fleet Management System (FMS) to effectively manage drone hardware, streamline flight requests, and enhance access to fleet data management. The primary FMS platform will be developed through ESRI. UNL CALMIT will engage with USDA-ARS, PDI, and ESRI to provide input on user requirements, user interface design and experience (UI/UX), and configuration of desired functionalities within the ARS PDI Enterprise cloud environment. Specifically, CALMIT’s expertise in remote sensing and image collection will provide key perspectives for standard remote sensing image data collection and products that support structuring an efficient and effective FMS that can centralize project, personnel, and asset management as well as seamlessly integrating FMS with a separate Imagery Data Management System (IDMS) in another USDA ATO’d data management platform. Year 1 efforts will focus on defining roles, protocols, and architecture for the FMS and contributing end-user input for development of ArcGIS-based dashboard and web applications involved in drone flight information collection, image collection, asset management, and considerations for future FMS integration with an IDM system. Pending availability of funding, later year efforts may include the development of ‘best remote sensing image data collection practices’ for the drone-based sensors and systems, the development of automated/semi-automated QA/QC applications for image processing and standard image data product generation; development of training materials and/or in-person training sessions on FMS implementation and IDM use for image processing and analysis, search, and retrieval. All efforts will be coordinated with PDI and PDI partners that could include OCIO, SCINet, Forest Service, FPAC, or North Dakota State University and will be in full compliance with USDA IT and cybersecurity rules and guidelines.