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American City & County highlights photo mapping in disaster response
Press Release

 

Punta Gorda, Fla., Deploys GPS-Photo Link for Asset Inventory and Damage Assessment

THORNTON, Colorado, USA, 13 March 2007 – The City of Punta Gorda in Central Florida has purchased GPS-Photo Link photo mapping software from GeoSpatial Experts to conduct routine infrastructure inventories and to assess damage after major storms. The Punta Gorda GIS Planner hopes to train Damage Assessment Teams from other Florida cities in the use of GPS-Photo Link.

Located on the Florida Gulf Coast between Naples and Sarasota, Punta Gorda sustained significant damage from Hurricane Charlie in 2004. Experience with this storm and others not only underscored the value of having an asset inventory in place prior to a natural catastrophe, but it also highlighted the need for rapid damage assessment afterwards. Punta Gorda expects GPS-Photo Link will help fulfill both of these needs.

“We take regular inventories of city-owned lights, poles, trees and storm water inlets as a part of our daily activities,” said Rick Burgess GIS Planner in the Punta Gorda Growth Management Department. “Photo mapping greatly reduces the error rate in this inventory process.”

He explained that in the past city workers took photos, jotted down notes and recorded locations of infrastructure in separate steps. Invariably, there were mistakes made in coordinating this information for entry into the city GIS. With GPS-Photo Link, the inventory process is completed in one step and the photo, attribute data and location coordinates can be transferred directly into the GIS, eliminating much of the error-prone manual activities.

The GPS-Photo Link software from GeoSpatial Experts automatically links digital photographic images with GPS location data and then maps the photographs on a GIS layer. In addition, GPS-Photo Link creates web pages in which the watermarked photographs are integrated with satellite imagery, street maps, or other GIS-based mapping layer. New functionality added in the most recent software version enables users to display their photo locations as icons in a Google Earth map layer and add an arrow indicating the direction in which the photo was taken.

“The photo-mapping technology will also speed up damage assessment that takes place immediately after hurricanes,” said Burgess. “This work must be done as quickly and accurately as possible.”

He explained that in the aftermath of a large storm, city Damage Assessment Teams map damage to both public and private properties. This vital information is supplied to FEMA to prioritize relief efforts, to government Property Appraisers to assess changes in property values, and to private property owners for insurance purposes. Burgess says these damage assessments will be performed much more quickly and more accurately with photo-mapping because the technique eliminates the time-consuming task of matching photos with paper notes. The time- and location-stamped photos georeferenced in the GIS environment offer detailed evidence of field assessments that can be reviewed later if needed.

“After the major hurricanes in recent years, we have seen an increasing number of local governments purchase GPS-Photo Link to create GIS inventory assets before and after a natural disaster strikes,” said Rick Bobbitt, President of GeoSpatial Experts.

For more information on GPS-Photo Link, visit www.geospatialexperts.com.

Contact:
Linda Bobbitt
GeoSpatial Experts
Phone: 303.255.2908
Email: Linda@geospatialexperts.com

 

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