Overview of Layers in Lens

For each monitored property, you can choose from a variety of imagery and data layers to understand ground conditions. The data for these layers come from multiple public and private satellite and aerial sources, at both high resolution and high frequency imagery.

High Resolution vs High Frequency

The map layer options are separated into the following categories:

  • High Resolution - These imagery layers are 1.5 meter and finer resolution. High resolution layers are available from commercial vendors (truecolor only) at varying times throughout the year, and the USDA National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) which is captured during the summer months from aerial sensors. NAIP layers are all 1 meter resolution and captured roughly every two years.
  • High Frequency - These layers are 10 meter resolution. High frequency layers use data from the Sentinel-2 satellite, and are captured roughly every 1 to 2 weeks. 

When to use High Resolution or High Frequency Layers

Higher resolution layers provide more spatial nuance than you would see in the lower resolution layers derived from Sentinel-2. For understanding ecological change over time, Sentinel 2’s high capture frequency is helpful. Whereas NAIP can provide highly detailed spatial data at single points in time.

For instance, the NAIP Water & Moisture layer (left) is especially useful for visualizing wetlands and other transitional areas with greater detail than Sentinel-2 (right).

Can I compare data across High Resolution and High Frequency layers?

Due to variations in sensor calibration and the large difference in resolution, data for the same layers are not directly comparable between the High Resolution and High Frequency versions of a layer. The increase in spatial detail of a High Resolution layer may result in a different value for the same location compared to a lower resolution High Frequency layer. Because NAIP surveys are not always flown with the same airplane and sensor, it is also possible to have variation in coloration between different NAIP surveys of the same location.

Map Layers

The Layer options include:


Vegetation vigor is measured using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which indicates photosynthetic activity based on red (visible) and near-infrared satellite data. It is a number which ranges from 0 to 1, with higher values indicating greener, more dense vegetation. This data provides a reliable way to evaluate vegetation health and changes over time and is derived from public satellite data on a weekly time scale, in the case of Sentinel-2 data, and less frequently for NAIP data.


Water is detected using the Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI). Like NDVI, it is a number which ranges from 0 to 1, where higher values indicate open surface water in blue, values in middle ranges indicate shallow water or moist soil and low values indicate the absence of surface water in white. Water data also comes from public satellite data.  

Water & Moisture (Experimental)

Water and Moisture is an Experimental layer which uses infrared and visible spectrum public satellite data to identify moist bare soil and open water, represented by the Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI). Like NDVI, it is a number which ranges from 0 to 1, where higher values indicate more moisture and open water in dark blue, and low values indicate variations in moist bare land and shallow water in light blue and green. Water data also comes from public satellite data. 

The moisture layer is best used in areas with bare ground or minimal vegetation when some context on ground conditions is known. This layer provides more detail on areas that appear dry in the Surface water layer, but may actually have shallow water. Small and narrow streams or water bodies are more easily picked up with this layer. In regions where vegetation is blocking a top down view of the soil or water surface, this Moisture layer will display values indicating a lack of moist soil or open water. We therefore recommend using the Vegetation layer to assess moisture in vegetated areas, where darker greens indicate plants which are not experiencing water stress. 
Note that the values in this layer should be ignored in locations with concrete, roads and buildings. Over those surfaces, this layer will incorrectly indicate the presence of moisture. In some cases shadows may also be present based on the angle the imagery was taken. Looking at the Truecolor layer first is a great way to get oriented and identify built surfaces in your areas of interest.


The snow layer uses the Normalized Difference Snow Index to highlight snow cover on a property. NDSI is calculated from a satellite image’s green and short-wave infrared bands, using public satellite data inputs to derive a value between 0 and 1. Lower values indicate the presence of snow, shown in white, and a lack of snow is shown in blue.  

Color Infrared

Check out our support article about our color infrared layers to learn more.


Truecolor imagery displays ground conditions in a natural color palette, similar to what humans observe, and is captured from public satellites.

Truecolor, high-resolution

This layer similarly displays imagery in colors similar to what humans see, with higher resolution from private data providers such as Planet, Maxar, Nearmap, and Airbus for more fine detail. At least one high-resolution image per year will be displayed for each property in the Dashboard, and more can be requested as needed. 


This layer shows the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) classifications of land cover at 30m resolution and a 16-class legend. The NLCD is developed in partnership by multiple United States Federal agencies and is updated every five years. Upstream Tech visualizes these results but is not responsible for the accuracy of the classifications.


The basemap is the layer that covers the whole map, extending beyond the property boundaries. These can be changed by selecting the basemap button on the right hand side of the map screen. There are three basemap options: Canvas, Satellite, and Satellite with labels. Lens defaults to showing canvas, shown below. The basemap shows roads and city names.

The satellite basemap option (shown below) shows imagery from an amalgamation of sources, including aerial photography, and satellites. As this basemap fuses captures from multiple dates and sources to obtain the clearest picture, we are unable to provide exact capture date information. The basemap should only be used to provide rough context, not for reaching any conclusions.


This is data provided by you that can be turned on and off as needed. Common overlays include building envelopes and timber areas. The overlay "type" is listed in the dropdown menu, and hovering over an overlay feature will display the name of that individual feature. To learn how to add an overlay to your portfolio, check out our article on Adding your data as an overlay. 

In the image below, the overlay type is "Timber Area" and the name of the overlay is "Timber Harvest Zone".

Overlays can be customized to more intuitively match the color to the overlay type. Navigate to the bottom of the Layers menu, select "Customize overlays...", then select the appropriate color.