Leicestershire-based aerial mapping specialist Bluesky, the company behind many of the high-resolution images of England and Wales currently used on Google Earth, has recently announced a new flying programme for Ireland.
The aerial survey specialist already has a contract in the UK supplying geographic data, including aerial photography, to central government organisations such as Natural England, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and English Heritage. This contract has set a new standard for the capture of geographic data; moving from the previous five-year update cycle to an improved three-year update programme. Using this expertise and experience, Bluesky recently announced plans to capture high-resolution aerial photography and colour infrared imagery for the whole of the Republic of Ireland.
This new flying programme will see three dedicated survey planes, equipped with the latest Vexcel camera technology, operate out of multiple flying bases including Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Donegal. This operational flexibility will ensure that pilots are able to maximise flying opportunities, and therefore data capture, taking into account local weather conditions and air traffic control restrictions. Planes will be on standby from April 2015 in order to capture leaf on aerial photography and colour infrared imagery during the summer months.
Operational control will be based at Bluesky’s Irish headquarters in Cork, with a dedicated support team led by Simon Tidmarsh, operations director; “By throwing maximum resources at this project, including equipment and staff, we’re confident we can achieve what we set out to,” he said. “In other words, some 70,000 square kilometres of the most up to date, accurate and single-season aerial photography for the whole of the Republic of Ireland.”
As raw data, somewhere in the region of 20 Terabytes in total, is collected it will be transferred to Bluesky’s data processing facility in Leicestershire. Here, a team of specialists will transform the thousands of individual images into a seamless, map accurate mosaic producing both the aerial photography and colour infrared map layers. In addition to the two image layers, Bluesky will also produce a national Digital Terrain Model and Digital Surface Model.
“We are aiming to launch the first of this next generation of geographic data solutions for Ireland in September 2015,” added Robert Loughran, international sales manager at Bluesky. “This is a hugely important development for the Irish geographic information industry as it represents a major breakthrough not only in the currency of information available, but also the detail of the products on offer. We’re also planning a dedicated online Mapshop for the hugely important market. This will allow for professional users of geographic to view and download site-specific images and data in a matter of minutes.”