County unveils aerial photo, mapping system

News editor

Marion County unveiled its new mapping and aerial photography system in training sessions Thursday and Friday.

Pictometry International Corp. updated aerial photos of the county and installed them in its Pictometry Online system earlier this year after county commissioners approved paying $119,000 over three years for the service.

The system will allow authorized users to view photographic maps — taken from directly overhead and at 45-degree angles in all four cardinal directions — and to overlay additional information, such as parcel maps. Users can compare the most recent photos to ones taken in 2008.

For most rural portions of the county, the photos have a resolution of one pixel being 9 inches. Photos of cities, as well as the county lake, Eastshore, Pilsen, and Centre High School, have a resolution of 2.5 inches per pixel.

“You are not able to zoom in on somebody’s license plate,” Joe Oddi of Pictometry said.

The photos are not real-time. They are only updated when the company does a flyover, which it recommends every three years. The current photos were taken March 11.

Layers can be added to the maps, but the county has to provide any information for new layers. Layers showing parcel boundaries and road centerlines had been added before the training sessions.

Ben Steketee, Hillsboro’s building inspector and fire chief, said he could see uses for the system in both his roles.

The parcel map layer could provide him a starting point when looking for property lines to determine required setbacks. The maps also could allow 911 dispatchers to relay information about the location of a fire, such as where any propane tanks are visible near it, he said.

Hannaford Abstract & Title sent researcher Shay Clark to the training Friday. Property descriptions are complicated in some areas of the county, and a good map of the parcel lines can improve understanding, Roger Hannaford said.

Hannaford thought the system could help his company’s research, depending on the accuracy of information.

“As long as the measurements are accurate, that’s the key,” Hannaford said.

Other information he thought would be good would be locations of easements. He said real estate agents probably could benefit, too.

Oddi said the system depended on receiving the best information from sources such as the county, but even with accurate information, the maps aren’t perfect.

“This is not survey-grade information,” Oddi said.

Users can take approximate measurements from the maps and add annotations. With a special camera, they can add pictures of the interior of a building as annotations. The county didn’t purchase the camera, though, which costs between $10,000 and $12,000, appraiser Cindy Magill estimated in January.

 

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