ForNet

The following summary was derived from:  ForNet: Delivering Spatial Data to Natural Resource Managers and the Public, by Steven J. Steinberg and Steven Daley Laursen.  This and several other online articles on ForNet development activities can be found by pointing your browser to ForNet Papers.

ForNet is a joint project between the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry with funding being provided by NASA's Remote Sensing Database program.  The primary objective of ForNet is to explore and develop methods for delivering natural resource databases to forest managers over the Internet.  At the foundation of the ForNet development process are two innovative and sophisticated Internet tools, MapServer and ImageView.  The MapServer software brings interactive maps to the World Wide Web (WWW) and allows users to create custom maps on-the-fly by specifying a geographic area of interest.  ImageView is designed to work efficiently with large image databases and allows users to query, display, manipulate, and download targeted views of satellite imagery and aerial photography.  Using JAVA programming tools, the ImageView and MapServer graphics can be used within a single application allowing for the overlay of vector (points and lines) GIS data on raster (grid cell) remote sensing data to provide a more comprehensive view of the landscape. 

ForNet WWW demonstration applications provide access to over eight gigabytes of natural resource data in three areas: 1) image delivery systems, 2) GIS data services, and 3) information resources.  Image delivery systems work focuses on developing applications that provide access to and navigation of spatial databases such as satellite imagery and aerial photography.  GIS data services applications allow the creation of customized maps and provide access to a range of GIS databases on-the-fly.  Information resources work focuses on key management problems to which spatial data can be applied.  The forest fire management system is a primary example allowing for mapping, equipment tracking and text-based reports for rapid update and distribution by fire managers. 

One measure of success with the ForNet project is the degree to which the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry implements the prototypes that were developed into their day to day business operations.  The MN DNR - Forestry Resource Assessment Unit's ForNet web site brings many of these innovative geospatial data delivery applications together in one location.  So far several ForNet applications have been duplicated and expanded upon, including ForestView, LandView and Air Photos Online