“We’re using new technology called LiDAR for the first time,” said Tom East, Senior GIS Specialist. “PhotoScience will first send their people up in a plane to take the normal aerial photos. They’ll then fly a separate mission using LiDAR.”
In the same way that radar uses radio waves and sonar uses sound waves, LiDar measures distance using light waves from a laser mounted on the bottom of an aircraft.
“They will fly at certain altitudes depending on how detailed we want the data to be. LiDAR shoots a laser beam to the ground and then measures the time it takes for that refection to come back,” said East. “Knowing that, they can figure out the distance it traveled and create a 3D image of the surface instead of just a 2D image like we’ve done in the past.”
“This method of collecting elevation data is much faster so it saves time and about 30 percent of the cost of doing it the manual way,” said East. “Besides the savings, it really improves the quality of the elevation data.”
The process will begin in March with final deliverables expected by the end of 2007.
“We’re really excited to be a part of something new, especially when it can help the public and leave some of their tax dollars to be put to something else,” he concluded.