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(2022-05) Wolf, John; Blodgett, Bridget; Walsh, Greg; Kemp, Stanley; University of Baltimore. Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies; University of Baltimore. Doctor of Science in Information and Interaction Design
Land trusts are organizations that protect land from development through the acquisition of ownership or conservation easements on important privately owned property. As of 2020, they are responsible for the protection of over sixty-one million acres of land throughout the United States. Land trusts use online maps for a variety of communication purposes associated with existing conservation values and potential threats to these values. Advances in digital cartography have made online two (2D) and
three-dimensional (3D) maps accessible to an expanding audience for use in a growing number of fields. For example, the emergence of digital twins and 3D modeling has transformed urban planning and design. However, the potential role of 3D modeling in rural planning and for land conservation applications hasn’t been explored to any substantial degree. With that as context, this study evaluated the effectiveness and usefulness of 2D and 3D maps to address land trust communication purposes at different geographic scales (parcel and landscape).
Phase 1 of the research involved a survey soliciting input from land trust personnel throughout the United States on the potential communication use cases of maps and conservation values featured on maps. Considering the results of Phase 1, Phase 2 of
the research involved developing 2D maps and 3D scenes for a watershed in central Maryland that was the geographic area of interest for a hypothetical land trust (the Wolfsville Land Trust) and then engaging land trust personnel throughout the United
States to participate in remote testing of these maps and scenes to evaluate map effectiveness and map usefulness.
The results of the study showed that there was not a statistically significant difference in map effectiveness based on (1) map dimensionality, (2) map scale, or (3) the interrelationship between map dimensionality and scale. However, there was a
statistically significant preference for 3D maps over 2D maps to address the land conservation communication purposes evaluated.
The results are discussed for their implications for future land trust communication needs, including the potential to leverage future technological advancements to better address these needs. Strengths and limitations of the research are noted, along with recommendations for further refining future research by evaluating certain types of tasks independently from one another and by considering other formats and styles of 2D and 3D maps.