Jess Vairo was working on her Master’s thesis for her MS in Sustainable Engineering, which included doing a biodiversity survey of the entire University campus. Over a period of months, she walked the entire campus cataloging and counting all the various plant types and their locations.
The Program Director, Bill Lorenz, suggested she talk to Bill Leighton, one of the professors in the program about using a drone. We looked at the drone and realized that we couldn’t safely fly the drone low enough to identify and count individual plants given the number of buildings and large trees on the campus. However, we did realize that the drone could efficiently and accurately measure the land areas covered by the various landscape types on the entire campus.
In 120 minutes of flying time, the drone accurately measured the entire 214 acres of Villanova’s campus, which stands in stark contrast to the person months of time for the manual catalog.
Having the land cover areas by type for the entire campus, we realized that in addition to creating a new biodiversity measure we could also estimate the carbon sequestration associated with each area on campus.
We knew this type of service could be useful when planning sustainable design, so we decided to start Aeria Analytics to support organizations in sustainable development.