Redlands, Calif., Invests in Citywide 3-D Mapping Project

A specially equipped vehicle will be scanning the city and its facilities to create a digital model that could replace satellite imagery.

by Sandra Emerson, Redlands Daily Facts / November 6, 2017
Downtown Redlands, CA sterlingcompanyjewerly

(TNS) -- Residents may have noticed an odd-looking vehicle driving around the city this past week.

A white Ford Escape with a rack-mounted camera has been capturing detailed panoramic images and surveying 300 miles of city streets and city-owned facilities in 3-D.

The project will enable staff to view detailed images from throughout the city on their computers rather than relying on satellite imagery or going out into the field.

“This type of technology is advancing the city further into our Smart Redlands program,” said Mayor Paul Foster, while standing next to the vehicle outside the A.K. Smiley Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

“This provides many of the tools that will enable our city staff to better serve the public,” he said.

On Oct. 3, the City Council approved a $41,250-contract with CycloMedia for the work, which is expected to take about four days.

The vehicle, which belongs to Berkeley-based CycloMedia Technology, is outfitted with a rack-mounted camera and Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR, sensor.

The results is professional-grade, high-definition imagery, while the LiDAR helps create a three-dimensional model of the city, said Joe Astroth, CEO of CycloMedia.

“That means we produce a 360 degree-by-180 degree complete view of their city by driving all of the available roadways, alleyways, freeways … anywhere basically you can get a car,” Astroth said.

The vehicle will capture images within the city’s airport, cemetery, city yard, water and wastewater treatment plants and reservoirs.

“That includes 17 miles of our own facilities,” said Matthew Bradbury, GIS administrator with the city of Redlands. “That’s one of the benefits that Google does not give us. We don’t have pictures inside our waste water treatment plant and inside our water treatment plants.”

Staff has many uses for the technology citywide — from identifying damaged infrastructure to inventorying city trees. Staff expect to use the images to perform bike lane assessments, identify ADA compliant sidewalks and ramps, take measurements of infrastructure, including trees and properties, adjust parking lines and signage, as well as inventory city street lights.

The images will also play a role in public safety matters, such as tactical planning, identifying access points and weed abatement.

Through the images, staff will be able to see details such as the type of light bulb in a street light 25 feet above the ground, Astroth said.

Faces and license plates captured are blurred to protect privacy, Astroth said.

The images, which are stored in a cloud-based software, can also be updated annually, he said.

“It becomes this very valuable citywide asset that is utilized by all the government employees and all departments to save significant time and money by not having to go out into the field to do these traditional tasks, but to be able to do them in a very accurate and efficient manner at their desktop,” Astroth said.

©2017 the Redlands Daily Facts (Redlands, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.