Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Using FalconView Geoprocessing to Find Communications Sites

This upcoming weekend is a special weekend for the amateur radio community. Field day (which would better be called Field Days) is a time when ham radio operators go outdoors to set up temporary communications stations to practice emergency communications preparedness and to have a fun educational and relational experience doing it.

I'm going to dust off my radio license (W4LL) this field day and hit the air with a friend in Colorado. We talked about several possible sites around the Boulder area where we could set up. One near the top of our list was Rocky Mountain National Park. Since there is a plethora of GIS data available for national parks, I decided to load some into FalconView and see if I could use it to help pick a site for us.

Here are some of the things we wanted in a site:
  1. Within the park.
  2. At a moderate altitude (not too high, not in a valley).
  3. Near a road so we wouldn't have to hike too far with our gear.
  4. On an area with level slope.
  5. An area with a good view of the sky (for radio propagation).
  6. Near a river or stream, if possible.
I loaded Colorado terrain data, RMNP road, stream, trail and border data and went to work. The simple way to do this kind of analysis is to make a group of raster data sets and score them based on a weighting of the criteria above. Adding all the scores together gives you an overall raster that scores the various terrains.

I won't go into too much detail here, but the ArcGIS analysis tools integrated into FalconView performed well for the task. The reclassify tool was used to score the terrain raster for altitude, the slope tool was used to get slopes from the terrain raster, the Euclidean distance tool was used for road and stream proximity data. Once some camp sites were picked out, the view shed tool was used to determine the sky visibility from the raster.

The first picture below shows some of the outputs from the aforementioned tools drawn in FalconView. The colors are so ugly because they represent a mosaic of different outputs which a human must interpret through careful visual analysis. (Honestly, without the table of contents, which shows up on the GIS Editor, the colors aren't very meaningful.)

The next picture shows just a camp site of interest, view shed, and terrain data, all drawn in the FalconView ArcGIS Editor.

1 comment:

kevinc said...

Rockies...wow! Makes me think of Coors Light!

Did you get down a 6 pack of Silver Bullets?