LIDAR Mapping of New York City to Create Flood & Solar Maps
New York City Gets Mapped for Solar-
New York has joined other coastal U.S. cities, including San Francisco, in utilizing light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology to create the most comprehensive three-dimensional maps of the city to date. The new maps will be used to improve zoning and building codes, to assess the potential for flooding, and to evaluate rooftops for solar power installations. In a series of nine, six-hour, night flyovers at 3,500 feet from April 14-30, New York was “mowed” with lidar, which shoots out 100,000 laser pulses per second, then measuring the time required for the pulses to return. Representations of the terrain are constructed based on these “hits.” The data amassed will be used by Sanborn, a Colorado-based cartography service, to create finely detailed maps that emphasize elevations and structures. The $450,000 effort, part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, a broad-based improvement agenda for the future, was financed in part with $205,470 in grant cash from the federal Department of Energy. In the coming decade, weather models suggest New York will experience greater amounts of precipitation and could be subject to coastal flooding as a result of global climate change. PlaNYC is not only intended to address this potential crisis, but also to improve the city’s economy and quality of life in anticipation of a population increase of 1 million more residents by 2030. One of the mapping project’s goals was to determine if any wetlands still exist in the city that could exacerbate flooding issues. New York’s current flood plan maps date to the 1980s when they were formulated from aerial photographs and ground-based surveys. The new information will not only enable the city to take preventive measures, but also to enhance its emergency response systems. Additionally, the survey will isolate flat and pitched roofs suitable for solar power installations and determine which neighborhoods are most in need of additional tree planting. The solar data will be put online as part of an effort to evaluate New York’s solar potential as well as to make the information available to citizens who want to check their own residential and business structures, thus encouraging private-sector solar projects. The lidar mapping is another step forward in Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious PlaNYC effort, which, according to his office has already made significant strides. Greenhouse emissions have, according to the Bloomberg administration, dropped nine percent in the city and more than 322,000 trees have been planted. These accomplishments account for the realization of 57% of PlaNYC’s goals for 2009.
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