The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 04/06/2020

The UMass Amherst Libraries, in collaboration with the College of Natural Science and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, recently received an Interdisciplinary Faculty Research Award for georectifying, analyzing, and distributing historical remotely-sensed images from the William P. MacConnell Aerial Photograph Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst (SCUA).

The collection consists of photographs from 1951 to 1999 that “provide unmatched insight into the historical geography, land use, planning, and climate of Massachusetts.” With georectification, which “assigns geographic coordinates to an image in order for it to be displayed and analyzed spatially using a geographic information system (GIS),” the collection’s data would be accessible and usable by researchers and regional planners.

“The process enhances the research value of the photos because it makes them easier to find, if a geospatial search portal is set up, and use in geospatial software,” explains Dr. Rebecca Seifried, Geospatial Information Librarian at UMass Amherst and project team member. “Applications are limitless, from finding out what a specific property looked like in the past, which many members of the public want to know, to investigating large-scale changes to environment, infrastructure, and land use.”

Funding from the grant will be used to support a graduate research assistant who will work with the team on georectifying the collection. Additionally, the team plans to use the georectified images to develop an AI-enabled tool to assist with auto-georectification of future projects.

Once completed, the georectified photos will be available on Credo, SCUA’s online repository.