Point of Beginning

GPS Photo-Mapping Software Speeds Site Assessments for Renewable Energy Projects

September 23, 2009

THORNTON, Colorado, USA – Planning Solutions Inc., a land-use planning company in Honolulu, has deployed GPS-Photo Link photo-mapping software to facilitate site assessment activities related to renewable energy and other development projects in Hawaii. The Honolulu firm uses the software as a critical component in land-use permitting applications for wind, solar, and wave-energy development projects.

“Site inspection is the first step in any land-use permitting project,” said Charles Morgan, Principal in Planning Solutions Inc. “It’s crucial to document land features that might be impacted by development. GPS-Photo Link makes this process effortless.”

Developed by GeoSpatial Experts of Thornton, Colorado, GPS-Photo Link displays photos in their precise geographic locations on digital maps for integration with GIS layers and the generation of documents and reports.

Morgan explained that as part of the environmental impact assessment required for the development of renewable energy and other large projects, Planning Solutions Inc. is geotagging hundreds of photographs of topography, vegetation, drainage patterns and possible archaeological evidence on a given site to prepare submissions for land-use permits. Each land feature that will be disturbed during land grading and construction must be documented, described and evaluated before the permit can be issued. GPS-Photo Link is the most efficient method of gathering, organizing and generating this photographic documentation.

“The GPS-Photo Link software stamps the photos with the time and location coordinates where they were taken and exports them directly in our ArcView geographic information system (GIS),” said Morgan.

GPS-Photo Link is compatible with any handheld GPS receiver and digital camera. The software also works with the recently introduced models of GPS cameras from Ricoh and Nikon that geotag photos in real time as well as cell phones cameras with geotagging capabilities.

GPS Photo-Link software is useful in land-use permitting and site inspection reporting because it automatically links digital photographic images with GPS location and other attribute data. It uses the geotagging data to accurately map the photographs in their correct locations for display on a digital map layer such as Google Earth or in a GIS such as ESRI ArcView or ArcGIS.

Planning Solutions’ Morgan said the photo-mapping software saves his crews time in the field, especially in densely vegetated terrain where landmarks are difficult to spot. In the past, they had to stop, look at the GPS and take written notes of location coordinates with every photo. As a result, they took an average of 20 photos during a site inspection and sometimes had to return later to gather better documentation of a given feature. Now, geotagging and mapping with GPS-Photo Link, the crews take hundreds of photos – thoroughly documenting every land feature on a given site – and seldom have to return for a follow-up inspection.

“Photo-mapping saves money because it saves time in the field…and we’re gathering better information,” said Morgan. “GPS-stamped photos aren’t required in the land-use permitting process, but they’re expected.”

GeoSpatial Experts offers GPS-Photo Link in two editions: GPS-Photo Link GIS Pro for geospatial professionals mapping their photos in a true GIS environment, and GPS-Photo Link Express for business users who map photos on a digital or web-based map and generate reports from their photo inventories. GeoSpatial Experts sells the software as stand-alone packages or bundled with cameras and GPS receivers. To place an order, visit www.GeoSpatialExperts.com.