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US county okays aerial photography program

Snapping some photos for assessing property taxes could also help revamp a scaled-down project to give firefighters a chance to view buildings before they arrive on the scene.

Commissioners at Lawrenceville this past week approved a $149,900 contract to take aerial digital photos using Pictometry International Corporation.

Pictometry features aerial photos taken at an angle. Instead of seeing simply roofs of houses, the images can reveal windows and doorways, possible exits in case of fire. Support Services Director Connie Hinson said the images are intended mostly for the tax assessor’s office but will also be used by the fire and police departments.

The contract doesn’t entirely bring back a program that some fire officials said could save valuable seconds off the time it takes to fight a fire because firefighters could develop a plan of attack on the way to the scene.

That idea, which would have equipped the firefighters with digitized building plans and photos of every building in Gwinnett, was scaled back last year because of costs.Instead of making plans for the thousands of commercial and residential buildings in Gwinnett, the project started with 500 “target hazards.” Schools and hospitals were among those buildings in the first priority.

About a year ago, officials at the Atlanta Regional Commission called a press conference to talk about Gwinnett’s program and starting a smaller pilot program in Decatur, hoping to find a way to bring the relatively inexpensive imagery to all the jurisdictions in the state.