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Office of the Chief Technology Officer


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Washington, DC 20003
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Rob Mancini
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April 07, 2010

On a Clear Day, You Can See-- The OCTO Spring 2010 Aerial Photography 

OCTO completed aerial photography of DC which will be used to update base map data in the District's Geographic Information System.

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OCTO plans to release the 2010 orthorectified imagery in summer 2010 and the resulting DC GIS base map layer updates in late fall. Both releases will be available to all District agencies and the public.

Aerial 2010 News Release Graphic

During the Cherry Blossom festival in April 2010, District residents and visitors may have noticed an airplane flying low in the bright blue sky overhead. That plane was contracted to the District’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), conducting its biennial aerial photography capture to update the District’s Geographic Information System (DC GIS). The clear spring weather was not only perfect for viewing cherry blossoms from the ground, but also ideal for photographing the city from 5,000 feet above.

OCTO will use the aerial photography to produce orthorectified imagery at 6 inches of resolution. This means that every pixel square in the image will represent 6 inches of ground in DC–an exceptionally high level of detail and visual resolution. The new imagery will update DC GIS map layers such as buildings, roadways, sidewalks, and parking areas. These and other base map layers in the DC GIS are used by District agencies and many other government and private organizations to develop the most accurate cartography, engineering, urban planning, and operational analysis.

The aerial imagery also has many uses for the public at large. For example, the imagery appears in publicly available software such as Google and Yahoo maps. Homeowners applying for District construction permits can use the imagery to create preliminary site plans. Students studying photogrammetry will use District aerial imagery to learn. And software developers use the imagery and the base map layers of the DC GIS to create numerous useful, open-source applications that the District offers free at http://appstore.dc.gov. For example, FixMyCityDC.com uses aerial imagery and map layers to help users identify sites in the District that need repair, like potholes and broken parking meters. Users can point to the site and submit online service requests for prompt attention to the problem.

OCTO conducted the 2010 aerial photography capture in partnership with four federal agencies. The United States Geological Survey and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency contributed funding for the project. The Transportation Security Administration and the United States Secret Service worked closely with the District to approve flights in restricted airspace.

OCTO plans to release the 2010 orthorectified imagery in summer 2010 and the resulting DC GIS base map layer updates in late fall. Both releases will be available to all District agencies and the public.

“Our updated GIS map layers are just one part of the broad technology services that the District offers to government and the general public,” said District Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak. “From GIS data to advanced classroom technology to our web portal with 200 online services, we’re leveraging technology to bring the best and most convenient services to residents, businesses, and visitors of the District of Columbia.”

To learn more about DC Government technology initiatives and resources, visit www.octo.dc.gov.