Prince William County’s Department of Information Technology has upgraded its aerial photography, so people will be able to see things a little more clearly now. The department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) division is responsible for the County’s aerial photographic mapping services.
The division updates its photos every two years to keep up with growth in the county and give people something to look at for a reference point. “Our new imagery from 2013 is actually a much better resolution than our 2011 imagery,” said Malcolm J. Echaluce, a county GIS developer. “By having higher-resolution imagery, people are able to see a much better picture of the county.”
The aerial photographs are taken in the winter when the trees are bare to provide the best view of the ground. Echaluce said it take the pilots with their cameras about a month to “fly the county” and another six to eight months to get the photos back. “It’s important to update our imagery because we want to be able to give our customers the most accurate information that is available. With our mapping application, we want to be able to present them with information about the county that’s going to be a little more current.”
In addition to providing a service to county residents, the aerial imagery is often used by county agencies, as well.
“A lot of agencies here in the county use our mapping applications. Planning, for instance, would use it to assess the area. Whether they’re doing code enforcement or doing a permitting of some sort, having updated imagery would provide better information,” Echaluce said. “It’s very important for our police, fire and rescue to have updated imagery. I like to say, ‘It’s best to know before you go.’”