Summer 2007

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

2007 Conference
Silent Auction
From the Chair
Spring Workshops
Award Nominations
Scholarship Winners

Right of Way Maps Online
More Photos via WMS

Governor's Council
Applications FY08
Commendation Nominations


County GIS Association
Ramsey 2006 Orthos
Utility User Group

SSURGO update
Web Soil Survey v.2
2010 Census Tracts
2010 Census Address Update
Land Cover Website
Satellite Mission

Higher Education
U of M GIS Job Fair
St. Mary's Update

Other Places
Seamless Photos/Topos
WI GIS Coordination
City GIS Sites
Climate Change Risk
Projections Poster
European GPS Update
1507 Map of World


Orthophotos in Ramsey County
By Jan Vanderwall, Roseville Area Schools and chair, Ramsey County GIS User Group  

Local governments in Ramsey County have a great need for up-to-date orthophotos. Our most recent flight was in 2006, providing 6" pixel resolution color orthoimages delivered in MrSID and GeoTIFF formats. The cost was roughly $100,000 but that included the flight, ortho images and aerial features updates. The aerial features are stereo-plotted vector data representing open water, building footprints, physical road edges, railroads, water towers, tanks and dams.  

The project was a joint effort of Ramsey County and the Ramsey County GIS User’s Group; see Cities, school districts, and watershed districts comprise the membership of the User’s Group. Ramsey County coordinated the effort for us and worked to verify locational accuracy at the NSSDA 95% confidence level. USGS contributed $25,000 through a cost-sharing agreement to support federal (DHS, NGA/DoD) homeland security interests, including preparation for the 2008 Republican National Convention. 

We estimate that this joint effort saved our members 50% or more over the cost of individual contracts for orthophotos. We have included the imagery as part of our online mapping service –  

Our members have many reasons for wanting these orthophotos. Let me list a few:  

Roseville Area Schools
For me, in the Roseville Area Schools, there are multiple benefits of having these photos. I have used our web-based map when visiting classrooms. The orthophotos are useful in showing the development patterns, neighborhood characteristics, and individual homes and lots. Students are especially interested in seeing what their home looks like from above. By making this asset available, I believe that we can help students learn more about their world, and potentially about a career choice.  

Members of the public when they find out about this [online mapping] resource are fascinated. Realtors use this page to show potential buyers what the lot looks like, and of course other information about the property.  

I often use this map when talking to parents about busing service. When there is a disagreement on the geography of an area, it is easy to load up the photo and see exactly what the characteristics of the neighborhood are. These photos also show clearly where the gaps in public pathways exist, and with proper background, where a pathway might be useful.  

City of Falcon Heights – Deborah Jones, Zoning and Planning Director
The collaboration between the Ramsey County GIS User Group and Ramsey County has made it possible for Falcon Heights to have access to up-to-date data we could not otherwise afford. As we are a fully-developed community it would have been extremely difficult to make the case to the City Council to fund a separate purchase in 2003 - and yet we use the aerial photos and feature data nearly every day in our zoning and planning department. The case would have been stronger in 2006, with a recent redevelopment project and an upcoming comprehensive plan update, but the collaboration represented a huge cost saving over what we would have had to budget to acquire this data on our own. We use the aerial photos and physical feature data literally every day.  

City of Roseville – Jolinda Stapleton

  • City/county agencies use aerials to digitize pathways, storm sewer catch basins, park amenities, boulevard trees, etc.
  • Aerials used in presentations for council, commission and public meetings
  • Multiple aerial images show change of physical characteristics of property, water, etc. through history.
  • Physical feature updates (road edge, buildings, water, etc.)
  • Used in public improvement plans
  • Site plans for building permits
  • Measuring for setbacks
  • Providing photography to public via Online Mapping Service application  

Ramsey County – Curt Peterson Ramsey County Surveyor's Office

Some of our benefits are:

  • Wet land observation
  • Building changes
  • Roadway changes
  • Trail (non-motorized transportation systems) changes
  • Augment parcel mapping
  • Historical, point-in-time documents.