Photos available online give detailed Oahu view
The aerial shots are provided by the U.S. Geological Survey
Aerial photos that show views of Oahu in great detail are available online through the U.S. Geological Survey.
"This imagery provides our police, fire and emergency service providers with vital information," said Mayor Mufi Hannemann in a news release. "Other city services, including transportation, permitting, land-use planning, facility maintenance and tax assessments, will benefit from this too."
Ken Schmidt, the city's geographic information system administrator, said the city has been using the images since March. The photos can show an object 1 foot long.
They were used during the heavy rains in February and March by Oahu Civil Defense to help identify areas that had been flooded, Schmidt said. The photos showed how the areas looked before the flooding and helped civil defense officials assess the damage.
The images are also being used to review city building permits and in tax assessments, Schmidt added.
Building plans brought into the Department of Planning and Permitting can be matched against the photos that show exactly what is on the property. Tax assessors are also able to see structures that are not visible from the street, he added.
Environmental groups, scientists and other agencies are also using the photos, Schmidt said.
"Part of the value of this imagery is it being available to the public," he said.
Scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are comparing the images to photos taken in the 1940s to see how the shoreline has changed, Schmidt said.
Chris Chaise, a senior manager at the Pacific Disaster Center on Maui, said the center is using the images to see exactly what structures are in tsunami inundation zones and flood zones.
Currently available satellite photos have a resolution of 2 to 3 feet, Chaise said. "With this stuff you can actually see right down to the individual buildings."
Funding for the high-resolution photos came from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey as part of a project to provide high-resolution photos of the nation's biggest cities.
The photos were taken from an airplane between August 2004 and March 2005.
A new set of photos will be taken starting this fall under a $357,000 contract awarded by the U.S. Geological Survey to Aerometric Inc. The city is scheduled to get updated images every three years after that, something Schmidt is particularly excited about since it will enable the city to track building changes over time.