EarthData International mobilized to Little Rock, Arkansas, last week to kick off its recent $1.3 million contract award with the Arkansas Geographic Information Office (AGIO) for updated orthophoto mapping. Using multiple digital cameras, EarthData will acquire aerial imagery over the entire state - approximately 52,100 square miles - in a single flying season. Governor Mike Huckabee authorized the program funding and is a longtime champion for the development of GIS technology and data in Arkansas.

The project marks the first all-digital statewide orthophoto mapping program in Arkansas history and involves simultaneous collection of natural color and color-infrared imagery for generation of 1meter pixel resolution orthophotos and a 5-meter grid digital elevation model. All products will be delivered to AGIO within one year, faster than previous programs completed using conventional film photography.

"The imagery from the 2006 update program will become the base layer for numerous applications including natural resource management, economic development, emergency response, and local planning, as well as for subsequent development and maintenance of other geospatial data throughout Arkansas," said Learon Dalby, the state's GIS program manager.

Five counties have also exercised an option to upgrade to 1-foot pixel resolution orthophotos over selected areas through the statewide program. Totaling an additional 2,500 square miles, the higher resolution products will serve a variety of end users within these counties and cities, from property appraisers to city engineers to law enforcement personnel.

Once completed, project data will be made available to the general public through GeoStor, the state's popular online GIS data clearinghouse.

The Arkansas project expands EarthData's portfolio of all-digital statewide mapping programs and underscores the organization's strategic goal of expanding its presence in the South.

Source: EarthData, January 9, 2006.