By Ryan Clemens, campus landscape and public space planning intern
Throughout the past nine months of my internship, one of my tasks has been collecting data on seemingly every landscape feature that Indiana University has throughout its many “campus neighborhoods” around the state, and I must say that it has been an arduous process—one that is still very much in progress. The features that we pass by and use on an everyday basis help to create a sense of place within that particular area on the IU campus. Aside from those with whom one is sharing a particular experience on campus, the experience one has while on the landscape of an IU campus is mainly attributed to the atmosphere. This includes landscape features within the proximity—whether realized or not by the landscape user—and within the user’s viewshed or realm of use, which is where the ultimate goal of improving user experience lies. To ensure that each campus user’s experience is a positive one, whether that be for primary campus users (students and faculty), visitors or for the greater ecology of the particular ecological neighborhood, it has been determined that creating specific campus neighborhoods and environments is a priority for campus planning.
With the help of ArcCollector, a program derived from ArcGIS that can help collect and update data while in the field, I have been marking the location of nearly every landscape feature—from plantings to retaining walls and benches to memorials and many more—on each of IU’s campuses, and specifically on IU’s Bloomington and East campuses recently. To “collect” a particular landscape feature, it is important that I take and upload a photograph of it along with its feature type, its unique descriptions, and its materials and save it within my ArcCollector database. When each of these features is collected, they are stored on the same layer within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database that I work on with IU’s GIS Specialist, Dana Bissey. This means that the end-user,which in the case of my project is the contracting team working on the landscape master plans of Indiana University’s seven campuses, as well as IU Campus Planning and Facilities, can use these maps to help them in the design and planning processes of various projects throughout the IU system of campuses.