WEDNESDAY, MAY 30: The first stage of government’s project to create a high definition, digital map of Bermuda has been completed.
As part of the Bermuda Mapping Update Project, a specialist survey aircraft took high-resolution aerial photos of the island, using a camera mounted in the fuselage.
Due to the changeable weather conditions over the past several days multiple flights were required to ensure cloud-free conditions. The aerial survey aircraft departed on Monday.
The survey company will now extract information from the photographs, and create the digital map of Bermuda.
This process is called photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the art and science of taking measurements from imagery and uses a complex series of measurements to remove distortions in the photograph, so that accurate scaled information can be extracted.
Through this method a technician can view the ground in three dimensions, and can trace the outlines and buildings to great accuracy.
The mapping project will cost about $260,000 and the data will be used extensively throughout Government.
Copies of the photographs and mapping will be available for purchase by the public later in the year.
In a press release, Government answered questions raised on some social media websites about why public money was being sent on the project when Google Earth can be used instead.
Government explained the key differences between this project and Internet mapping solutions: “Google Earth is only available as an image, and does not include map data. The map data is actually more important to the majority of users than the background imagery because it can be used by Geographic Information System (GIS) software to calculate information. For example, if someone wanted to measure the total area of roofs in Bermuda (perhaps to measure our potential for solar energy or our water catchment) they would use the data and not the image.
“The map data will include a detailed digital terrain model, which will show the ground contours, and also a digital surface model which will show the height of every building in Bermuda. From this it will be possible to create a 3-D model of the whole country, which is certainly not possible from Google Earth.
“The Google Earth imagery is also low resolution. The largest objects visible on Google Earth are a few feet across, whereas the Land Surveys Section has purchased high resolution imagery which will enable users to see objects a few inches across. For example, the Land Surveys Section are collecting the location of Bermuda’s mooring buoys with this project; the buoys are just not visible on Google.”
Temporary mapping officer at the Ministry of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy, and project manager, Peter Hopkin said: “We have also found that the Google imagery is not quite in the right place. If you compare the coordinates of a point accurately positioned by our Global Position System (GPS) equipment with coordinates obtained from Google Earth, there is a difference of about 10m or 30 feet.
“This might not seem much, but if someone wants to use our data to, for example, track their vehicles, this difference will count. Some years ago we tried to contact Google to correct their imagery, without success.”
This aerial survey is the culmination of seven years’ work to upgrade Bermuda’s national reference system for modern use. There is a high, and rapidly increasing, demand for digital data for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) both within Government and from the private sector.
Marc Bean, the Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy, said: “The Bermuda Mapping Update Project is something that will be of great benefit to our island and is long overdue. Aerial photography and mapping were last updated in 2003 and since then over 1200 addresses have been created and are not mapped.”