For the seventh year, the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) the national association of private sector geospatial firms, honored top-flight work in the geospatial community. MAPPS recognized complex projects by member firms that exemplify the professionalism, value, integrity and achievement the firm’s staff has demonstrated.

This year, seven geospatial firms received honors in the MAPPS Geospatial Products and Services Excellence Awards. Five independent judges evaluated the entries based on complexity, innovation, future value and client satisfaction. The winners received the awards at the 2014 MAPPS Winter Conference in San Diego.


Quantum Spatial

GRAND AWARD: Photogrammetry/ Elevation Data Generation: Coastal Resilience Data for American Samoaorne and Satellite Data Acquisition: Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut Corridor Mapping Project

GRAND AWARD: Photogrammetry/Elevation Data Generation: Coastal Resilience Data for American Samoa

Client: U.S. Geological Survey; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Resources Conservation Service; Fish and Wildlife Service

Challenge: Photo Science, now a part of Quantum Spatial after a merger with Aero-Metric in the fall of 2013, was tasked with obtaining topographic LiDAR and high-resolution digital multispectral imagery from the five main islands of American Samoa: Tutuila, Aunu?u, Ofu, Olosega and Ta `u as well as the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. After six months of preparation, Photo Science determined the most cost effective way to complete the project was to utilize sensors in a single, one-hole, unpressurized twin turbo-prop airplane. Because of the project’s remote location, the company had to ferry the airplane 2,600 miles across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii and then another 2,600 miles from Hawaii to American Samoa. Photo Science used a Microsoft UltraCamX digital imaging system and an Optech Gemini topographic LiDAR system on the project, which required coordination with the various participating agencies and the local Samoan community. Weather and safety also were of paramount concern, as constant rain and cloud cover, difficult terrain and the remote location all factored into the complexity of the task.

Innovation: Photo Science showed creativity and adaptability in completing the project. The team developed on-the-fly capabilities to modify flight plans and daily logs to learn local weather patterns to finish the task. In the end, the high-resolution data will improve American Samoa’s geospatial infrastructure and help it better plan and respond to natural hazards such as tsunamis, storm surge inundation, shallow coastal and inland flooding and sea level rise.


Atlantic Group

Airborne and Satellite Data Acquisition: Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut Corridor Mapping ProjectAirborne and Satellite Data Acquisition: Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut Corridor Mapping Project

Client: iGi Consulting Inc.

Challenge: Atlantic had to develop large-scale imagery and elevation data for Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut, an area in Canada near the Arctic Circle. The project, which covered an area 85 kilometers long by 1,500 meters wide, required airborne surveying of proposed road construction from Bathurst Inlet to a mine that was being built.

Innovation: Atlantic faced several logistical challenges, such as securing fuel for the mapping planes in a remote locale and dealing with the Arctic weather, in addition to unique data acquisition tasks. After conducting numerous tests, Atlantic used precise point positioning (PPP) technology to eliminate the need for a physical base station with a 20-30 kilometer baseline distance from the aircraft. Atlantic utilized the PPP solution for establishing a virtual base by placing a physical base station at the operational airport; using observation times of at least 4.5 hours on the airplane GPS units; and flying a line over the GPS base station at the remote airport on each mission. With this methodology, Atlantic produced a final RMSEz of 14.8 centimeters, exceeding the client’s requirements of 18.5 centimeters. By integrating PPP into the workflow of this LiDAR project, Atlantic saved time and money. It also showed that the use of PPP for remote-area LiDAR projects could work in areas such as Alaska, the Yukon Territories and British Columbia.


Merrick & Company

Remote Sensing: Power Line Remote SensingRemote Sensing: Power Line Remote Sensing

Client: HDR; Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc.

Challenge: Tri-State tasked Merrick & Company with collecting and processing data or more than 1,500 miles of transmission lines. The data was needed to comply with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) guidelines to ensure the reliability of the power lines. Merrick & Company needed to plan, collect and analyze 3D as-built data of the lines for vegetation encroachment and line up-rating. It also needed to collect high-resolution LiDAR, color aerial imagery, oblique imagery, high-definition video and meteorological data.

Innovation: Merrick & Company used an airborne, six-sensor geospatial technology approach combined with unique remote sensing solutions to satisfy the NERC requirements and build a robust 3D power line thematic database that provides the baseline for future operations and maintenance activities. The company needed to coordinate collection between survey ground and air crews over the 1,500 miles across three states while complying with FAA guidelines. Merrick equipped its Eurocopter AStar 350BA with an Optech Orion C200 LiDAR sensor, Trimble TAC Pro 80 Megapixel digital aerial camera, GSI fore and aft-looking oblique cameras, GSI Terra Pix CIR camera, Cloud Cap HD video camera and Aventech airborne camera. All of the sensors were operated at the same time over a given section of the power line. More than 100 discrete ground features were mapped to provide robust GIS and geo-engineering databases of the network. In addition, Merrick established survey ground control points at 10-mile intervals, and it used a SmartBASE approach that enabled flying without losing GPS satellite lock. Merrick collected data on up to 150 miles of line per day. Tri-State could distribute the final database, which was more than five terabytes, to other internal and external users.


Magnolia River

GIS/IT: Natural Gas Geospatial ServicesGIS/IT: Natural
Gas Geospatial Services

Client: Alagasco

Challenge: A natural gas distributor in Alabama, Alagasco tasked Magnolia River with delivering class location studies to identify high-consequence areas (HCAs) for transmission lines. Magnolia River needed to identify each element of risk—including high population density areas, hard to evacuate facilities such as hospitals or schools and sites where people congregate such as churches, office buildings or playgrounds—by spatial location along the natural gas pipeline.

Innovation: Magnolia River used digital orthophotography along the transmission corridors of the gas system for a detailed view of the infrastructure around it. GPS data points were collected along 240 miles of pipeline, and GPS positions were spaced evenly to define centerlines. Heads-up digitizing and onsite verification of structures were used to comply with PHMSA standards and Department of Transportation regulations. Using digital orthophotography, Magnolia River completed the class location study and identified several HCAs along the pipeline.



Surveying/Field Data Collection: Rutgers University Mobile Mapping: Hurricane SandySurveying/Field Data Collection: Rutgers University Mobile Mapping: Hurricane Sandy

Client: Rutgers

Challenge: Assistant professor Jie Gong, Ph.D., of Rutgers University hired Woolpert to capture useful information via mobile mapping about the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. The project was one of the first in the profession to use mobile mapping technology to assess hurricane damage and provide research for preventing future devastation from similar hurricanes. Despite poor weather conditions, Woolpert collected data of more than 30 linear miles in 10 days.

Innovation: Woolpert geospatial professionals equipped their van with mobile mapping equipment and drove it through disaster sites to capture point clouds and high-quality images. Woolpert worked quickly and delivered quality images by setting both M1 sensors to acquire data at 500 kHz so the entire system could acquire one-meter pulses per second. This rated reached the maximum capacity of the M1 Sensor, doubling the rate it normally runs and enabling the team to capture twice the number of images than a usual mobile mapping collection would provide. The system also captured four 5-megapixel photos per second to ensure high quality imagery. Using the data collected and processed by Woolpert, Gong and his team from Rutgers developed tools such as hurricane damage prediction models and rapid post-disaster assessment models to help respond when future storms strike.


Smart Data Strategies

Small Projects: Cameron Parish Parcel Mapping and Digital Data ProjectSmall Projects: Cameron Parish Parcel Mapping and Digital Data Project

Client: Cameron Parish, La.

Challenge: Cameron Parish, the largest parish by land area in Louisiana, wanted to develop a sustainable GIS development program. Third Coast Geospatial Technologies (3cGeo) focused on the need for a land base parcel map for the parish as the core layer of the system. The project’s goal was to maximize the use of available mapping technology while providing citizens, employees and business owners with accurate tax parcel data in a digital format. Smart Data Strategies served as the parcel conversion vendor while 3cGeo was the client side project manager. In the end, SDS cross-referenced approximately 40,000 records and interpreted hurricane-battered ground evidence.

Innovation: SDS used numerous sources—including digital orthophotography, ownership maps, ward boundaries, subdivision plats, Tobin maps, parish surveys, land class maps and paper parcel cards—to convert the parcel map. SDS developed a hierarchy of boundaries: parish boundaries, PLSS lines, ward boundaries and hydrography boundaries with priority on the parcel boundary. For best-fit approach to parcel conversion, SDS geo-referenced the parcel card, constructed road rights-of-way and located parcel lines by ground evidence. This approach provided a high level of accuracy and isolated parcels that required additional editing. This project converted paper information to digital and organized and connected it to related data in the context of a map. In addition, the project will bring benefits such as increased collaboration of government agencies, more accurate tax assessments, improved emergency response services and conservation of coastal wastelands.


Optech 3D

Technology Innovation: Environmental HydroFusion Software for CZMIL Bathymetry SystemTechnology Innovation: Environmental HydroFusion Software for CZMIL Bathymetry System

Challenge: Airborne sensors offer benefits over sonar when surveying coastal zones, but they offer a wide variety of data about the about the seafloor and water column that can be difficult to manage. Optech wanted to turn the complex processing of marine environment survey data into a simple, one-flow solution.

 Innovation: HydroFusion software is a single program that provides mission planning, data collection quality control and automated processes that lead to fused data results from Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging LiDAR’s (CZMIL’s) three sensors—LiDAR, hyperspectral and camera—simultaneously to produce a variety of data products, from chlorophyll detection to benthic classification. Optech designed HydroFusion to improve usability with an intuitive graphical user interface for planning surveys as well as retrieving, reviewing and editing data. Optech built on existing technology and developed HydroFusion as a flexible platform that can integrate updated systems and adapt to changing technologies. Integrated with Optech CZMIL, HydroFusion improves efficiency and the quality of data from hydrography.