Spatial Analysis Capabilities

Lab Description

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is recog­nized for significant applications of spatial data (geographic information systems (GIS) and remotely sensed data) to ad­dress archaeological, atmospheric, biological, ecological, geological and hydrological topics both nationally and internationally. Many DRI investigators use multi-scaled remote sensing and GIS to map, monitor, and model earth surface processes in a diverse range of applications.   

DRI spatial analysis capabilities include a wide range of hardware and software tools for addressing these applications and data from satellite, manned and unmanned aircraft as well as ground based remote sensing data. Computations are conducted on a wide variety of x86-based systems, which range from large shared/distributed memory systems down to the desktop workstation. DRI has approximately 300 Terabytes that are currently in use for spatial analysis research. Critical data is backed up to contracted cloud storage providers and on-premises enterprise disk storage systems. Scientists also make use of a wide variety of high-resolution printers and plotters.

DRI main­tains a system-wide license of ESRI GIS software packages, including ArcGIS, ArcPro and extensions, ArcOnline, ArcServer, and other ESRI products and databases. DRI maintains a system-wide license of L3Harris Geospatial image processing and programming software packages, including ENVI and IDL.  A system-wide license of MAT­LAB software is also available at the Institute.  DRI also has  system-wide licenses of AgiSoft Metashape Professional and Pix4Dmapper software for development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) photogrammetric processing and image analysis techniques, as well as 3D spatial model generation. 

DRI has several hardware capabilities for acquiring spatial and spectral ground-based data. GPS hardware includes: Two Trimble R2 map grade systems (sub-foot/decimeter real-time) as well as a Trimble Geo7X that can produce data post-processed to 2-3 cm or sub-meter in real time mode, and many Garmin hand-held GPS systems. A Malvern Panalytical ASD FieldSpec 3 Max full range field spectrometer is available for performing detailed spectral analysis of field samples. Additionally, DRI has a UniSpec dual channel field spectrometer from PPSystems, specifically designed for acquiring vegetation spectra. DRI also has multispectral, color, and thermal digital cameras (ADC2 by Tetracam, Sequoia by MicaSense, Survey3 by MAPIR, and FLIR Duo-Pro R) for deployment on one of several UAS platforms (single-rotor, quadrotor and hex-rotor helicopters as well as fixed-wing UAS).   

The Institute maintains an archive of over 5000 raster data sets from over 30 different imaging systems covering Nevada and selected study areas from five continents. DRI also maintains an archive of 10-meter digi­tal elevation model (DEM) data for the entire conterminous United States.

To support hands-on-training, DRI maintains a teaching laboratory where university level classes and short courses in image processing, remote sensing, and GIS are taught using industry standard software packages such as ArcGIS, ArcPro, and ENVI.


Tim Minor, M.S.
Lab Director 


Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512


Earth & Ecosystem Sciences