A trio of planes is scheduled to take to the skies this weekend to capture new aerial photographs of the Quad-City region on behalf of a number of local governments.
Surdex Corp. has been contracted by Scott County, in partnership with a host of other area governments, to provide the aerial photography services. Weather-permitting, the flights will begin Saturday and last three days.
Ray Weiser, Scott County's GIS coordinator, said this will be the county's first new aerial photographs since 2014.
"We can collect some of that data with a survey crew, but that would be labor-intensive," he said.
Among the county departments using aerial photographs are GIS, the Assessor's Office, Planning & Development, Emergency Management Agency, Planning & Development and more.
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In addition to other state and federal government agencies, he said the photos also are used by public safety, realtors, developers, engineers, utility companies and regular citizens. Aerials can be accessed at http://maps.scottcountyiowa.com.
Surdex, headquartered at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Missouri, is among the largest North American providers of digital orthophotography, GIS mapping and geospatial service. Weiser said they will fly three twin-engine planes.
Coordinated with Bi-State Regional Planning Commission, the effort involves Scott and Rock Island counties as well as the Muscatine Area Geographic Information Consortium, or MAGIC; and the Henry County, Illinois, cities of Geneseo and Cambridge. Local cities partnering include Davenport, Bettendorf, Buffalo, Blue Grass, Eldridge, LeClaire and Walcott in Iowa as well as Moline, Rock Island, East Moline, Milan, Coal Valley and Carbon Cliff in Illinois.
"With a larger contract, every partner can sit down and pick and chose (their services)," Weiser said. The smaller Scott County towns are part of the county's contract and will contributed $2,000 each toward the cost.
He said Scott County's share is $62,100 and Davenport will pay $11,050. Bettendorf, which has requested a higher resolution of photography, will pay $21,750.
Weiser said the scope of services include aerial photography, elevation data, topographical data and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which is a remote sensing method used to examine the earth's surface. The county has requested planimetric mapping which shows geographic objects, natural features and cultural physical features such as roads and fence lines.
The current river flooding is complicating the project because some areas will need to be re-photographed when the water goes down. But it is such a short window before the trees are filled with leaves. "We want to see underneath the canopy — the houses and the built environment," he said.