Wisconsin Geospatial News

Webinar outlines status, future of statewide air photo efforts

On September 10th, representatives from the Wisconsin Regional Orthophotography Consortium (WROC), the state of Wisconsin, the North Central Regional Planning Commission, and the U.S. Geological Survey gave an audience of nearly 100 online and in-person participants a status update on aerial photography activities planned for 2010 in Wisconsin.

After a brief welcome from State Geographic Information Officer Curtis Pulford, Andrew Faust from the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission kicked off the session with a quick history of WROC, how it was developed, and why.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day came from Chris Diller, GIS Manager with the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs.  He announced the State of Wisconsin received a $700,000 Department of Homeland Security grant for statewide aerial photography.  Of the total, $675,000 will be available as seed money to jumpstart partnership efforts that will ultimately offset aerial photography costs for local units of government.  Chris reported the Wisconsin aerial photography “investment justification” scored in the top 15% of all investment justifications nationwide.  Many questions remain on the specifics of how the funding will be used, but representatives from the State of Wisconsin will be working with WROC to hammer out those details in the coming months.

On other news, Kirk Contrucci with Ayres Associates in Madison reported that at least 42 Wisconsin counties are likely to acquire new aerial photography in 2010.  Another seven could fly depending on how their budget situations pan out in the coming months.  According to Contrucci, the remaining 23 counties, primarily in the northwest portion of the state, are unlikely to develop projects in 2010.  In addition, several Minnesota counties along Wisconsin’s border have decided to join WROC as well.

Dick Vraga, USGS Geospatial Liaison for Wisconsin, described four federal projects of interest to Wisconsinites.  The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is working through the U.S. Geological Survey to partner with local governments to acquire 1-foot resolution, color imagery over Madison, Milwaukee, and the Fox Valley north to Green Bay.  In addition, Vraga requested matching funds from the USGS to help support the ongoing WROC and State of Wisconsin aerial photography efforts.  The success of that request is uncertain, however, due to severely limited funding available within USGS.

In the next several months, USGS also expects to release details of an open competition for $15 million of stimulus funding set aside for aerial photography and LiDAR data acquisition.  A wide range of organizations are eligible to apply for these funds, but coastal areas are likely to receive geographic priority in the evaluation process. Watch grants.gov and the Mapping Bulletin for more details.  Lastly, Dick explained that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, will likely fund LiDAR, leaf-off, and leaf-on photography over the next several years.  He reported that 37 Wisconsin counties could be eligible for a yet-to-be-specified amount funding in 2011 or 2015. 

Many of the questions posed at the end of the session related to the specifics of the DHS grant to the State of Wisconsin.  In short, the collective response of the speakers was the details of how funds will be used have yet to be worked out.  The focus thus far was on securing the grant.  Another audience member asked whether any Wisconsin Land Information Program funds managed by the WI Department of Administration will be used for aerial photography in 2010.  The short answer was no, WLIP funds “sent to Madison” will not be used for aerial photography next year.

Anyone interested can view an archived version of the Webinar.