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Coombs Creek Conservancy creates first-of-its-kind virtual tour

Imagine exploring Coombs Creek without ever getting your feet wet. It's the same concept as Google Street View but for waterways. We have collected thousands of panoramic images that are seamlessly stitched together to provide an interactive virtual panoramic tour of the historic Coombs Creek located in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas.


What started out as a casual email exchange with Courtney Gallagher, CEO and Cofounder of EarthViews, soon turned into a summer-long project to create the first-of-its-kind virtual tour of the entire 5 mile length of Coombs Creek. In addition to high-definition interactive panoramic imagery, the tour has integrated water quality data.


The web-based virtual tour features a split screen with hi-def imagery on the left and an interactive map on the right showing your exact location along the tour's path (Image 1).


Virtual tour of Coombs Creek easily navigated with split screen layout. The hi-def panoramic imagery is on the left and interactive map is on the right. The useful tool bar is located in the bottom left while the toggle buttons for the scene tags and data layers are found in the upper right.
Layout Overview showing panoramic imagery on the left and interactive map on the right.

Some of the other features of the tour include:

  • Pan, Zoom, Navigate - you can grab the screen and look around, zoom with the mouse wheel, and use the keyboard arrows to move up or down stream.

  • Map Data Layers - various data layers can be toggled on or off (i.e. locations with water quality data).

  • Scene Tags - users who see something on the creek can tag it, or can upload a photo or link that is related to a specific area of the creek. The list of tags can be toggled on or off, and are interactive making it very easy to jump to that scene in the virtual tour of the creek.

In this image, a user has tagged some graffiti found below a bridge.
Scene Tags - photos, links or tags added by users can be toggled on or off with the "tags button" (upper right).
  • Waterway Data - a drop down menu allows users to select a particular water quality parameter and visualize an interactive graph of the data. Clicking on the graph allows users to jump to the specific sample location on the creek and look around.

A drop down menu is provided to select a particular water quality parameter to display in an interactive line graph.
Waterway Data: the interactive line graph showing dissolved oxygen values for the 5 mile-long creek.
  • Table View - water quality data can be displayed in an easy-to-view floating data table that updates as you move along tour.

Table View showing water quality data is updated as you navigate up or down stream.
Table View shows water quality data (lower left) and is updated as you navigate up or down stream.

Coombs Creek is an over-looked neighborhood treasure with a unique ecosystem that deserves to be preserved and protected. This collaborative project with EarthViews will let people -- many who have lived in the area their whole life -- experience the creek for the first time.


Aside from simply being able to let people experience the creek, this project has many uses:

  • Digitally preserve the creek, creating a historical baseline of conditions.

  • Explore areas for recreational activities.

  • Teach the next generation about nature using virtual field trips.

  • Collect important water quality data and visualize watershed data in context.

  • Locate points of interest.

  • Enhance partnerships with municipal governments by allowing virtual onsite meetings to discuss pollution, runoff, infrastructure damage, erosion control, and public works projects such as bridges, stormwater and parks.

The continued work of Coombs Creek Conservancy requires resources and we need support from the community to help us cover the cost related to protecting our neighborhood treasure. Please consider becoming a Guardian of Coombs Creek by joining our community of monthly donors by clicking here. If you are not ready to become a monthly donor, you can still help by giving a one-time donation here and sharing this post with family, friends and neighbors.







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