Maps that could show a single house or power line to within 10 feet of their actual locations are being made of 45 of the United State’s largest metropolitan areas — including the Piedmont Triad, the Triangle and Charlotte.
The project is being undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, a military intelligence group called on to help with homeland security projects after Sept. 11.
The agencies are contracting with local aerial photography companies to collect images for the maps.
The images collected will be adjusted by computer programs to correct for the earth’s curvature and to overlay ground information, creating maps three times as accurate as the national standard.
Existing maps are out of date and fail to capture new development and detail — information that comes in handy during emergency evacuations, attacks and recovery efforts, said Ken Osborn, who is managing the national project.
Wright Lowery, an analyst with Wake County Geographic Information Services, said federal mapping under way in the Triangle will provide far more detailed images than maps generated by Wake and Durham counties in 1999.
Those cost Wake $560,000 and Durham $457,000. The counties plan to update them in 2004, which would coincide with the next federal survey. The counties may be able to share some costs with the federal government. Mecklenburg County commissioners struck a deal to split the mapping costs with the federal government this year.