Document Type


Scholarship Type

Faculty Scholarship, Staff Scholarship

Presentation Date


Event Name and Location of Presentation

Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers. San Francisco, CA.


Proliferation of consumer grade small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAV) or drones brings many opportunities in the area of mapping and spatial analysis. Although misuse of drone technology is well-chronicled in the media, the important and positive role played by drones at the community level is often overlooked. At Furman University, we have integrated the use of drones into teaching, research, and various sustainability and safety initiatives on campus and with community partners. Using a combination of tools, including drones and GIS, we mapped the sprinkler irrigation network and streetlight locations on campus and in a local community. The general workflow with the drone imagery includes mosaic generation, image fusion, georectification, and information extraction. Mapping the sprinkler irrigation network is helpful for Furman to identify areas of overuse and inefficiency, facilitating water conservation efforts and water budget development.

Partnering with the local community, we identified the areas of inefficient and poor lighting that are related to safety concerns among the residents. Data from the drone flights, in combination with spatial and statistical modeling approaches, have helped us improve streetlight illumination models, identify potential eco-friendly corridors for species disrupted by artificial lighting,and validate streetlight location and operational status in the community and on campus. The information gathered from the drones is playing a crucial role in helping us make smarter decisions about streetlight type and placement on the ground. Recent restrictions on night flights have hampered additional progress, however, highlighting the need for more flexible regulations.

Additional Affiliated Department, Center or Institute

Center for Teaching and Learning



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