Wednesday, January 16, 2008

DCNR Aerial Photography On Google Earth Web Site

More people will get a clearer birds eye view of Pennsylvania now that a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Geologic Survey has been reached that will put the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' PAMAP high-resolution aerial photography on Google Earth, free of charge, at

PAMAP is a seamless digital base map of the state that provides access to road, parcel, elevation, boundaries, hydrography and other data at a scale 10 times better than what was previously available through existing topographic maps.

"PAMAP is the most detailed look at the state ever," DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said. "Nearly a thousand users per day were accessing this information on the PAMAP Web site, and now that it is available on Google Earth, we expect the data will be even more widely viewed and used."

The statewide digital base map is being created by the DCNR Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey in partnership with other state agencies, counties, the federal government and other government entities.

"Thanks to these highly accurate pictures, now you can not only see exactly what your house looks like from the sky," said State Geologist Dr. Jay Parrish. "This imagery can also help emergency responders deal with hazardous situations faster, help planning agencies plan for development, and help with more accurate flood plain mapping."

Some examples of how the data is used:

Government agencies - Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency used it to respond to northeastern flooding in summer 2006; PennDOT is using the imagery for updates of state and local road networks; at the Department of Environmental Protection, it has helped with the evaluation of underground and surface mining, especially subsidence impacts; Adams County used it for exhibits in criminal cases; and Allegheny County for planning and security for the 2006 Major League All-Star Baseball Game.

Private industry - ProLogis has used it for facility siting; UPC Wind for preliminary siting of alternative energy wind farms; James Sewell Corp. for research on forest canopy structure; GeoDecisions/Gannett Fleming for hyrdro network and watershed delineation; and Iron Compass Map Co. to prepare information for emergency responders.

Academic institutions - Lafayette College for processing new gravity observations; Penn State to classify forest types in the Allegheny National Forest; and Bloomsburg University for mapping glacial deposits in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey has been collecting this specialized high-resolution aerial photography, known as orthophotography, since 2003 as part of the PAMAP program. Orthophotography is digital photography taken from the air and aligned with geographic positioning systems, or GPS. Each year, the PAMAP program flies a large section of the state on a continuous basis to update these orthophotos.

While Google Earth is using the imagery only, the PAMAP program includes topography, buildings, boundaries, land cover, transportation, and hydrography.

PAMAP data also is contributed to the national map being created in support of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.

More information about PAMAP is online at Select Geology, and choose "PAMAP" under Quick Links.


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