MAPPS Members assist with geospatial data and services

MAPPS, the national association of private sector geospatial firms, announced that several of its member firms are assisting with response and recovery activities in Texas and other locations affected by Hurricane Harvey, providing aerial imagery, surveying, mapping and other valuable data and services.

” In all aspects of emergency management, geospatial data and tools have the potential to help save lives, limit damage, and reduce the costs of dealing with emergencies,” the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences found in a 2007 report, Successful Response Starts with a Map: Improving Geospatial Support for Disaster Management. 

“Numerous MAPPS member firms are providing valuable services to help our fellow citizens and assist first responders.  Geospatial data collected on the ground and in the air through manned aircraft, drones, and satellites are helping with rescue, recovery, repair, response, and economic revival,” said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello.  “A quick data call to our membership found these are just a few of the many examples of the private geospatial profession making technical and professional assistance available”:

TerraSond, Ltd, based in Palmer, Alaska, with offices in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, is actively surveying numerous ports and harbor entrances along the Texas coast. Working for government agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard, Terrasond is performing ocean-bottom hydrographic surveys to ensure ports can be safely reopened for marine traffic as soon as possible and prevent shipping accidents due to debris.  The firm also has multiple crews and vessels servicing private dock owners and offshore pipeline infrastructure for oil and gas companies.

Woolpert, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, is engaged in a pro bono activity, collecting 1-foot orthoimagery (rectified aerial photography) across Houston and Harris County, and will be uploading processed data to the firm’s disaster relief website, pairing it with previously collected orthoimagery for change detection analysis, and making these maps available to the public via their website and an app in the coming days.

Surdex Corporation of Chesterfield, Missouri is serving several municipal governments in the greater metropolitan Houston area to collect four-band, one-foot pixel digital orthophotography over a 10,000 square mile area to allow quick access to the imagery for recovery efforts and disaster management. 

Surveying and Mapping, LLC (SAM) of Austin, Texas has deployed 4 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or “drone” crews and 2 manned helicopters for assessment and recovery efforts in support of electric utilities and oil and gas companies. 

GeoCue Group Inc., Madison, Alabama, is standing up an Amazon Web Service (AWS) web site with the most recent Harris County, Texas elevation data through existing Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology and orthophotos that will be accessible at no cost.   The Sanborn Map Company, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Esri, Redlands, California, and Vexcel Imaging US LLC, Centennial, Colorado are part of a consortium providing aerial imagery of Houston and selected Texas coastal cities for use by the first responders, humanitarian organizations, federal and state agencies, and insurance companies.

MAPPS has long advocated the use of geospatial data and services in emergency response. Its input to the 2007 National Academy report resulted in the establishment of contracts for “Remote Sensing to Support Incident Management and Homeland Security” by the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead federal agency for disasters and emergency response.


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