Why is Aerial Imagery Important?
Aerial Imagery presents a fast and efficient method for gathering an unencumbered view of large areas of the landscape. The uses of aerial imagery are numerous, influence a great variety of disciplines and continue to increase with the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Historically, aerial imagery was largely employed for military reconnaissance. While this objective still exists, current applications of aerial imagery reach far beyond military affairs.
Aerial imagery can be used to inspect, inventory, and manage natural and man-made features on the landscape. Identification, classification, raw counts, and spatial distributions can all be efficiently assessed from a photo. The state of Michigan has used, and continues to use, standard aerial imagery sets to manage state lands such as forests and game areas.
- Agricultural Crops
- Pest Infestations
- Natural Disasters
Aerial imagery has long served as a "base" for map design or Cartography. Land use/Land cover, soils, ownership parcels, etc. have all been routinely developed with aerial photos as a source.
- Land Cover
- Land Use
- Ownership Parcels
Aerial imagery, referenced to the earth's surface and supplementary datasets, is a powerful tool in state, regional, and local planning. This finite "picture of reality" can serve as an aid for visualizing, monitoring, and often mediating differing opportunities for a property's use.
- Rights of Way and Corridors
- Future Development
- Infrastructure Location/Allocation
Aerial imagery, coupled with other emerging technologies, can be used to safely and efficiently track various legal and illegal activities.
- Point Source Pollution
- Environmental Site Assessment
- Landscape Condition
- Illegal Activities
- Property Disputes
- Land Value
- Archaeological Sites
Aerial imagery can be a valuable instrument for monitoring natural and man-made resources. Visual assessment can occur at a single point in time (e.g. a riverine landscape after a flood event) or at scheduled intervals (e.g. observation of water quality at pollution outflow locations).
- Water Quality
- Agricultural Production and Crop Stress
Aerial imagery, referenced to the earth's surface and combined with elevation information, can depict a 3D visualization of the landscape. This viewshed analysis can be used for right-of-way placement, hydrologic analysis, participatory discussions, etc.
- 3D Perspectives
- Viewshed Analyses
- Hydrologic Analyses
- Public Presentations
- Real estate
By design, all maps are a scaled representation of reality. Therefore, all maps have the potential to omit key features for navigation (e.g. a bend in a river, a dead-end on a street, etc.). Aerial imagery offers the landscape in its entirety, free from cartographic interpretation.
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