aerial, development, construction, Durham, NC, 2018 October 01

High-Def Aerial Maps Drive New Efficiencies for Public Works

From road maintenance to water sampling, the city of Durham, North Carolina, is utilizing current, clear aerial imagery to optimize operations, saving time and money.

01 October 2018 | Durham, NC
With over four to five different image captures at high resolution, we can see sections that have been paved recently. We don't need to send crews out to an area where a stretch has already been paved.
Edward Cherry, GIS Administrator at City of Durham Public Works Department

There's an economic and cultural renaissance happening in the City of Durham, North Carolina. With a revitalization of its downtown district, and the redevelopment and repurposing of former tobacco districts into tech hubs and chic, loft-style apartment complexes, the city is rapidly growing beyond its 250,000 population. Durham is known for being one of the points in the high-tech R&D Research Triangle and home to Duke University.

The Challenge at a glance

A POPULATION EXPLOSION

The city's growth explosion prompted the City of Durham Public Works Department and its staff of 14 GIS professionals to seek out ways to streamline data collection. The department is tasked with managing all infrastructure data for the city, including mapping the impervious area for the city's $16 million annual Stormwater Utility Fee fund.

After using several satellite imagery systems that were fraught with the same problem — low resolution, infrequent captures — Cherry determined the city needed superior quality in their mapping imagery. The demands of the growing city necessitated an imagery provider equipped to supply crystal-clear images that were up-to-date, captured multiple times of year in both leaf-off and leaf-on seasons, and also accessible through web-based services.

aerial, development, construction, Durham, NC, 2018 October 01 Suburban Development in Durham, NC
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The Solution at a glance

ANYTIME, ANYWHERE images

Nearmap aerial imagery, captured every six months at 2.8-inch GSD, proved to be the superior quality Durham's public works department needed. Dozens of projects — from road maintenance and pothole patching to water sampling and degradation — are all utilizing the improved imagery, which has proven to save the city money, reduce time spent on the road, and allow crews to use real-time imagery when they are out working in the field.

 

Business Impact

Better Monitoring of Pavement Conditions The City of Durham is responsible for maintaining a majority of their own road work, maintenance, and repaving. As a result, the city pays for a road-condition survey which samples different sites, evaluating the level of degradation. With Nearmap imagery, surveyors are better able to identify specific locations with imagery captured multiple times a year.

Time Savings and Documentation of Road Repairs Like any city, the patching of potholes is a constant, ongoing project. With imagery from Nearmap, however, the City of Durham has been able to eliminate several steps in the process. Now the city uses an application integrated with Nearmap imagery where contractors can view the areas on their phone or tablet out in the field. The surveyors can edit and draw the areas that need patching instead of physically going out and spray painting them.

More Detailed Maps of City Riparian Zones Previously, with only leaf-off imagery, surveys of riparian areas in Durham proved limiting. With imagery captured during both leaf-off and leaf-on seasons, riparian buffers around streams can now be monitored for growth and expansion. The buffers can be alerted if there are issues with a stream’s path, whether sediment is clogging up one part of the area, or if there is repeated flooding or people intruding on a buffer.

Accurate and Detailed Customer Billing Serving some 78,000 customers throughout Durham, the public works office has found the high resolution imagery has improved their billing processes by producing web service maps that capture individual storylines.    

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