Utah taps Google for high-res aerial imagery

Utah taps Google for high-res aerial imagery

Although digital mapping has become a critical resource for all levels of government, open source digital mapping services have limitations, and many agencies do not have the funds to generate their own maps through costly surveillance flights. 

Those who want better quality images and easily sharable maps might look to Utah’s recent agreement with Google. 

Utah recently finalized a license agreement to acquire Google’s statewide high-resolution aerial photography, an aerial mapping service that can easily be integrated with geographic information systems and other software. 

Google’s high-res images will give Utah’s state, regional and local government organizations valuable information such as border-to-border views, which reduces field data collection. 

The licensed imagery differs from other Google imaging tools such as Google Earth and Google Maps in that it is more accurate, it can be downloaded for both on-premise and archived use, it functions on non-Google software platforms such as computer-aided design packages  and it allows for derivative data such as digitizing imagery into base map tiles.

In contrast to similar public domain open-source tools, Google’s new mapping feature also allows various state agencies to share mapping data using a single base map and cloud-based storage.  

Google is still working out all the issues with its new imagery service.  For instance, in some areas, custom flights must take place order to meet certain project specific requirements.  Google is also continuing to update its cycle goals, which are targeted to refresh every three years.  For states or agencies that need data between that time frame, custom flights might be necessary. 

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.


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