RICHMOND, Va. -- The commonwealth of Virginia will begin initial distribution of high-resolution digital orthophotography products to counties and cities across the state on Feb. 5. In daylong ceremonies scheduled at the Capitol, Senator John Watkins, Chairman of the Geographic Information Network (VGIN) and Jerry Simonoff, Chairman of the Wireless E-911 Communications Board will distribute the first digital products from the Virginia Base Mapping Program (VBMP) to officials representing over 30 counties and cities. By March 31, 2003, all 134 cities and counties across Virginia are scheduled to receive VBMP high-resolution digital orthophotography for their communities.

The VBMP was established in 2001 to produce a consistent statewide digital mapping foundation (base map) which would efficiently support E-911 as well as a majority of local, regional, state and federal geospatial applications. The collaborative effort, funded by the Wireless E-911 Services Board will save local governments statewide more than $8 million dollars. The data is currently being further used to support homeland security, highway and high-speed rail transportation planning, hurricane modeling and Chesapeake Bay studies.

"The Virginia Base Mapping Program is providing critical information resources to every local government in the commonwealth, establishing a highly efficient foundation for future technology development, and saving millions of dollars in the process," said Gov. Mark Warner.

The orthophotograhpy product will be licensed to all governments and public-sector organizations in Virginia at no cost. The license will allow each government or organization free use of the data, and will only restrict the government, agency or organization from redistributing the digital product to the private sector or data distributors. In addition VGIN will be working with partners at every level of government to establish a funding plan and maintenance schedule for regular updates of the product

The Virginia Base Mapping Program, under the direction of Virginia Secretary of Technology George Newstrom is managed by VGIN, a divisions of the Department of Technology Planning (DTP) and funded by the E-911 Wireless Communications Board.

"As this project nears completion, state and local governments will have a geospatial infrastructure that will support more efficient government operations, data sharing and a broad range of citizen services," said Secretary Newstrom.

The 14-month VBMP project involved 20 mapping and technology companies including 11 Virginia companies and produced more than 27,000 frames of high-resolution aerial imagery of more than 48,000 square miles that make up Virginia

-- The Office of Gov. Mark Warner