By Mark Waite
An airplane flying over the homes of Nye County residents in September may be taking 3-D photos that can be used by anyone from the assessor’s office to sheriff’s department SWAT team.
County commissioners Monday approved an agreement with Pictometry International Corp. that will cost $397,750 out of the county assessor’s technology fund.
“I think it’s going to be great for our county,” Nye County Assessor Shirley Matson said.
The technology — pictometry, oblique imagery and the associated software — is designed to bring efficiency gains to every department in the county, Matson said.
The assessor even bragged about the new technology at her April 18 ethics hearing, when she talked about technological changes coming to her department.
“We’re going to get some really good aerials this year and the fly is in September. These aerials are so good you can actually see at ground level. The appraisers are very rarely going to have to be out in the field,” Matson said.
She told commissioners Monday, “this technology will allow county workers to do more work at their desk as opposed to the field.”
The assessor’s office has to reappraise property every five years, meaning one-fifth of the county is usually reappraised every year. That wll be extra help as the Nye County assessor’s office is short staffed this year.
The technology integrates with Geographic Information System GIS technology at Nye County, the technology at the assessor’s office and 911 centers, bringing a much more visual component to the mapping, Matson said. She said over a third of all counties in the U.S. and 14 of the 17 Nevada counties have the technology.
Erin Ford, president of Pictometry International Corp., said the overflight will greatly improve on existing aerials.
“When you’re looking straight down at it you don’t really know, when a SWAT team is making a pre-plan on a house,” Ford said. “It takes away the guess.”
“What Pictometry brings is, from an angle, so now you can start making decisions,” he said.
County officials won’t have to guess how tall a building is, or where the entry points are, Ford said.
The technology will be an open license that can be used by various Nye County departments, he said.
The overflight sector will include the populated areas, not the vast, empty desert, Ford said. The overflights call for Pahrump, Amargosa Valley, Beatty, Scotty’s Junction, Tonopah, Hadley and Big Smoky Valley, Gabbs, Currant Creek, Duckwater and Sunnyside to be photographed.
Commissioner Lorinda Wichman jokingly asked if they could pick out ore bodies from the air. Commissioner Joni Eastley inquired about whether the Nevada Test Site would be photographed, Commissioner Dan Schinhofen joked he’d like to see pictures from Area 51.
A first overflight this year will cost $262,261, which will be paid over three years. A second flight is planned in 2015 and a third in 2018, subject to funding.
The company website states resolutions are as high as a three-inch ground sample distance. The images can be layered on top of GIS information. The product provides greater detail with higher resolution and 360 degree views, the company states.
Pictometry International suggests it as a tool for contractors or insurance adjustors trying to assess the damage from catastrophic events simply by viewing the high resolution images with results, tables and drawings that include actual dimensions. The images are said to accurately measure area, distance, height, elevation, pitch and bearing of buildings.
The Rochester, New York-based company has more than 145 million images captured in 148 countries.
In a related matter, commissioners approved a $14,166 contract with The Sidwell Company, to be paid for out of the county assessor’s technology fund, to design a GIS web site incorporating the map navigation system. Nye County can use a pictometry viewer to access the collection of oblique photography. The viewer can pan around the images.
The GIS upgrade will include imagery for topographic views, property parcels, voting districts and contour layers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.