Digital Globe announced that the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources is using QuickBird satellite imagery for a number of mapping applications supporting emergency response services, economic development, and community outreach efforts. The DNR uses the imagery to fulfill two different contracts: one serving Fairbanks and North Pole area, funded by the National Fire Plan, and the other serving the 15 other communities in the Tanana Valley, funded by a NASA grant awarded to the State of Alaska in 2001. According to Marc Lee, Fairbanks area forester for the State of Alaska DNR, the DNR contracted for the following QuickBird image collections:
The DNR is using the 60-centimeter resolution panchromatic and 2.44-meter multispectral images for numerous land planning applications serving theUSDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Golden Heart Utilities Company, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the City of Fairbanks, the Golden Valley Electric Association, 14 fire departments, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation The QuickBird imagery is used as a backdrop in our GIS to provide basic mapping services that we’ve never had before. Because most of Alaska is so remote, many villages have no maps at all. The Department of Commerce and Economic Development is creating community profiles for each village and delineating essential mapping features such as roads, schools, utilities, landforms and census information. The dilemma that Alaska faces is that there are no good data sources, compared to the lower 48 states in the U.S. QuickBird data serves as an excellent, functional mapping base because of its high resolution and survey-grade ground control points, and can achieve a locational accuracy to within three feet. With these digital maps, state troopers can more easily navigate in remote villages in response to calls for help. Additionally, villages and town councils will have basic maps on which to make planning decisions. Most recently, the QuickBird images were used by the DNR Division of Forestry to help firefighters fight wildfires that began blazing through forested areas about 80 miles south of Fairbanks on May 26. Firefighters used the images to determine the locations of endangered structures, evacuation routes, and areas where fire fighter personnel needed to be dispatched. The QuickBird images replaced outdated, inefficient quadrangle paper maps of remote areas, and street atlas maps in the urban interface -firefighters had previously used these maps to attack fires.During rehabilitation efforts after the fire, the DNR discovered that bulldozers used to construct fire lines near private property had damaged some survey monuments. The Division of Forestry used the locational accuracy of the QuickBird imagery, in conjunction with parcel coverages and GPS locations of the bulldozer lines, to help identify which monuments needed to be replaced. The DNR is orthorectifying its QuickBird data and making it available to all area fire departments so that emergency personnel can prepare for and respond to future disasters such as fires, floods and river bank erosion.The QuickBird imagery acts as a catalyst to pull a lot of different data sources together for geographic information system (GIS), as well as interactively share the data with other local agencies. Firefighters don’t have to be GIS experts to use the data – they just need access to the data, and the digital format of a GIS is an easy way to provide it to them. Providing firefighters with QuickBird imagery is a life and safety issue. They can see safety zones and areas with highly flammable fuels, as well as quickly identify areas for burnouts or fireline
construction. The NASA grant the State of Alaska received in 2001 prompted the DNR to
purchase QuickBird imagery covering a 1,500 square-mile area in Alaska’s Tanana Valley. A long-term goal of the NASA proposal is the development of base data necessary to support fire behavior software that predicts wildfire spread. The project includes the creation of a database of fuel models based on vegetation mapping to help the Division of Forestry to identify fire prone areas, predict fire spread with fire behavior software (allowing theDivision of Forestry to plan fire suppression actions or evacuations as required,) support flood control measures, and support hazardous material spill responses. Additional applications resulting from the NASA grant include:
Alaska’s Division of Forestry uses PCI Geomatica as well as ESRI’s ArcView software to manage and maintain the satellite and aerial imagery and other geospatial data in its GIS. By pulling data from different sources and managing it in a central GIS, the Division of Forestry can offer geospatial information services to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Alaska
Department of Transportation and other state agencies that need access to the information for creating forestry inventories, vegetation maps, parcel databases, tax assessments and other applications. The Alaska DNR-Land and Records Information Section will also be posting the imagery on the Web, along with its state ownership parcel database coverages.