While developing his master's degree (M.A. Geography) thesis at Florida Atlantic University Drake maintained a strong focus on investigating appropriate applications of Remote Sensing and GIS analysis to understand and solve geographic problems related to urbanization in lesser-developed regions of the world, with a unique emphasis on the Amazon Basin region of South America. Below are links to several projects he completed during this time, including his master's degree thesis which he successfully defended prior to graduation in December 2008. For each project, whether analyzing population trends in San Jose, CA, or modeling predicted changes to the urban landscape in Pucallpa, Peru, Drake had the added advantage of first-hand area knowledge of the geographic region in question.
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Graduate Thesis: A REGRESSION MODEL FOR PREDICTING PERCENT BUILT-UP LAND COVER FROM REMOTELY SENSED IMAGERY OF PUCALLPA, PERU by Drake Sprague
Abstract: Accurate information about built-up land cover and population density is essential for sustainable urban growth, especially in lesser developed countries. Unfortunately, this data is often too expensive for planning agencies, prompting use of outdated and unreliable information. As a proxy for estimating population density, a linear regression model is proposed to test the relationship between the percentage of built-up land cover and vegetation in Pucallpa, Peru. Expert knowledge, low-cost moderate-resolution satellite imagery, and high-resolution Google Earth images are used to estimate the percentage of built-up land cover at randomly assigned reference locations. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data, acquired at each reference point, is the independent variable in a linear regression model constructed to predict the percentage of built-up land cover. The results were successful, with an adjusted R 2 = 0.774 at 95% confidence. Strength and accuracy are further evaluated against zoning maps and population estimates provided by local authorities.
Remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) are tools used by geographers to study the interrelationships between humans and their environment. One such use of this technology is in detecting and monitoring the changes that occur within urban areas. As towns and cities grow it is of utmost importance that policy makers have the information they need to make sound developmental decisions. Satellites can provide raw information in a variety of spectral, spatial, temporal and radiometric resolutions, and when integrated with GIS this information can offer urban planners a detailed look into land use/ land cover changes and urban morphology. In the Amazon jungle regions of South America, government planners must give consideration not only to the sustainable design and development of urban areas, but also to the impacts these areas have on a fragile ecosystem. This is not an easy task, and it is complicated even more as each year people from rural areas migrate in large numbers to towns and cities in the hopes of finding prosperity for themselves and their families. Many of the migrants settle illegally as they perform squatter ‘invasions’ on lands in the urban fringe. This adds significantly to the burdens of city officials who, while confronted with low budgets and inadequate resources, try to plan for the future while struggling to keep up with the demands of unplanned immigration. The challenge of incorporating impoverished, informal communities into the framework of long-term sustainable urban growth is a task faced by planners in the city of Pucallpa, as well as throughout Peru, Latin America and the developing world at large.
The ability to make informed decisions for sustainable urban growth and effective disaster management requires accurate and timely intelligence about the intensity of built-up land cover such as impervious surfaces, buildings, roads, and land cleared for development. These physical manifestations within the landscape generally indicate some degree of human presence, and may also provide clues in determining how many people actually live in a given area. While traditional census counts provide this information, the accuracy of such data will diminish over time, especially in regions experiencing rapid population increases or declines resulting from extensive rural-to-urban migration. The informal nature of so many urban centers in lesser developed countries (LDC) further complicates efforts at deriving accurate population information by means other than door-to-door census counts. As national census counts in many LDCs may only occur once every 10 to 20 years, other methods for obtaining population data must be considered (Gluch et al., 2006). The purpose of this study was to test the ability of several data sources for estimating population in the city of Pucallpa, located within the low-lying Amazon region of eastern Peru. The goal was to not only produce an acceptable population estimate, but do so using low-cost and free data sources, combined with simple and rapidly-employable methods. The target audience of this study was urban planners and emergency managers in lesser developed countries. Pucallpa was chosen as the study site, as it embodies the characteristics of a rapidly developing city in a lesser developed region, in this case the Amazon jungle. It was also the site of a previous study in which the percentage of built-up land cover within the city was predicted as a function of green vegetation land cover. The results of the initial study are used as a variable for predicting population in this study.
This annotated bibliography covers a collection of articles selected for their relevance to the theme of land use and ‘development’ in lesser-developed countries (LDCs). The focus is on particular issues these countries face as their landscape transitions from rural to urban, and methods for monitoring and planning for these changes. Emphasis is on Latin America countries as much as possible. However, many of the situations illustrated in these articles are interregional in scope, as are the geographic applications used to analyze and solve problems related to development issues. Included is a range of development topics. International development is a broad area of study encompassing economics, politics, the environment, land rights, and social justice. Common to each case study is the use of geography as a framework through which to describe and analyzing each situation. The challenge then becomes defining what ‘development’ means in a geographical context, and using geographical methods to help find ways to make it in fact ‘sustainable’. Geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing methods are mentioned in a numerous articles. This is due to the fact that this technology has been adopted by many agencies as a quick, cost-effective and powerful tool for acquiring, analyzing, and assessing geographic phenomena that would otherwise consume vast resources to accomplish. A common example of how this technology is used includes the monitoring of urban growth in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Amazon jungle, and mapping the extent of squatter communities on the outskirts of large LDC cities. Using geographic methods, the degree of change and its impacts can be measured and used for implementing sustainable growth policies. The case studies articles thus represent a general cross-section of topics related to international development, their underlying issues, and some of the geographic methods in their study. And the articles can be used as a foundation for the development of a thesis about geographic applications for land use studies and international development. Finally, the bibliographies of sources that contributed to each of these works are also a valuable source of information for further study and use.
ESTIMATING PERCENT IMPERVIOUS SURFACE WEST PALM BEACH By Drake Sprague
The purpose of this project is to estimate the percentage of impervious surface per land parcel within a given section of City of West Palm Beach. Knowing the amount of impervious area within a given region is necessary for creating models of rainfall runoff and water quality. The area of interest in this study includes parcels bounded by Okeechobee Blvd. to the north, Belvedere Rd. to the south, Dixie Hwy. to the east and Congress Ave. to the west. Available data sources for completing this task include a set of 1 meter resolution color infrared Digital Ortho Quarter Quads (DOQQ) captured in 1999, a set of 0.5 foot true color air photos acquired in 2005, and ESRI shape files of parcel boundaries in West Palm Beach.
POPULATION ANALYSIS: CITY OF SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, 1990 TO 2020 by Drake Sprague
The City of San Jose, California, serves as the county seat of Santa Clara County. Known as “The capitol of Silicon Valley”, it is the largest city in the Bay region, the third largest city in California, and the tenth largest city in the nation. San Jose covers an area of 171.2 square miles; its metropolitan area, which includes Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, covers 1,291.2 square miles. The economic base of the city shifted in the 1950’s from primarily agricultural to aerospace and electronics production. Between 1950 and 1980 its population grew four-fold, attributable to its function as a “bedroom community” for the region’s technology industry. The city increased its land size from 17 to 157 square miles during this period through annexations of neighboring land. As indicated by data compiled through the U.S. Census, San Jose has witnessed significant demographic shifts. Projections to 2020 reveal patterns of change to varying degrees within different segments of society. Changes to its demographic fabric due to such factors as immigration and an aging population will have a profound effect on the city in the years to come. The following analysis traces San Jose’s population trends from 1990 through 2020 through population projection models, and suggests ways for the city to adjust to ensure sustainable future growth.