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Pictometry: Aerial Photography on Steroids

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 29 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 114-116
Ronnie Garrett
Date Published
July 2002
3 pages
This article presents information on pictometry, a new technology that uses aerial photography.
Pictometry, a new visual intelligence system from Pictometry International Corp., uses aerial photography to capture, process, and analyze orthogonal (straight down) and oblique (taken from angles) images to create aerial “maps” of a given area in 3D. This method allows users to view and analyze any house, building, intersection, or other physical feature in a given area. After a terrorism incident or natural disaster, this capability has many applications. It can be used for planning purposes to help first responders plan perimeters, roadblocks, and evacuations. Unlike satellite image photography, which only allows the tops of buildings to be photographed, pictometry is able to capture every feature in its entirety. These images are captured with a camera-equipped Cessna 172 light aircraft. This aircraft was chosen for its flexibility and its ability to fly down low. When gathering images, the company breaks the county to be photographed into square mile sectors. Each square mile sector is called a community sector. The company then catalogues these full-color digital images, which are updated every 2 years into software libraries called Electronic Field Study (EFS). Once in EFS, the images can be accessed by entering an address or going to a map and clicking on the area desired. To view in more detail, the user double clicks on the thumbnail images that pop up. A number of tools are offered to enhance the view, including a distance tool, location tool, and the annotation tool. The annotation tool enables users to attach unlimited amounts of information to an image. Other information attached to the images might include floor plans, interior images, streaming video, crime scene evidence, and directions or other text information for in-field procedures. The issue of privacy is a consideration that may not have merit; images are static and the identity of people, homes, or vehicles cannot be determined. The benefits are that this technology allows public safety professionals to view the physical layout of the area on a computer screen long before they arrive at the scene.