Aerial photos to help visualize development |

Aerial photos to help visualize development


SUMMIT COUNTY – A picture tells a thousand words. Summit County government will pay $50,000 this year to update its pictures – aerial photos used to help planners and decision makers considering development applications.The funds will cover the cost of photography, survey work and delivery of images required to update the county’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database.”The photography we’re working with now was acquired in 1999, and it’s not reflective of the current conditions in the county,” said Rich Ferris, assistant information systems director for the county. “We really don’t have accurate trail and road information because conditions have changed as development occurred.” The county is considering proposals and will choose a vendor to take the pictures in September. Eight companies are among finalists competing for the job.The county’s GIS mapping information is also used by the area’s towns. In addition to planning, the system has been used to map crime scenes in court and for response-time planning by public safety agencies like fire departments.The funds were approved last year and are included in the county’s 2004 budget. The system is expected to be fully updated by the end of the year.Aerial photographs taken for GIS mapping provide resolution equaling 1.5-foot pixels on the ground.”With these images, you can discern the difference in things as small as a foot and a half,” Ferris said.The main use for GIS maps is to help decision makers visualize impacts of proposed developments.”It can be difficult in planning commission meetings to understand the context (of a development) without having visual features,” Ferris said. “It begins to give you a much clearer picture of what’s there for planning.”Planners are using various types of technology to help illustrate proposed developments, and aerial photos are one of the most crucial elements, Ferris said.Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at

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