7 Best Ways to Use Orthoimagery

manned aircraft imagery from prius intelli compared to satellite imagery
While aerial photography provides bird’s-eye images of the surface, orthoimagery takes it a step further by combining it with the benefits of enhanced maps. From pipeline development to real estate valuation, many industries depend on this accurate, up-to-date information about land to make key decisions. Erroneous or outdated information can cause major delays – or worse. That’s why accurate, real-time imagery is imperative to the success of any business. While some of the use cases for orthophotography may be obvious, you might be surprised at all the ways it can be used:

1. Upstream Oil & Gas

Those in the oil and gas industry can benefit greatly from orthophotography. Specifically, orthophotos can be used for surface monitoring and change detection and tracking in upstream projects to give an updated look of a project’s process. While many in this field opt for pre-existing satellite imagery, those images can be outdated and don’t provide the accuracy and resolution of custom orthophotography.

2. Midstream Oil & Gas

Orthoimagery is also incredibly valuable for midstream businesses and the use cases are many. We’ve seen orthoimagery used for a variety of projects, including route planning, right-of-way encroachment, construction monitoring, pipeline classification, PHMSA compliance studies and overall line monitoring. Specifically for pipelines, orthophotos provide the accuracy needed to confidently break ground on a new pipeline and comply with the necessary safety guidelines.

manned aircraft imagery from prius intelli compared to satellite imagery

Orthoimage of pipeline ditch by Prius Intelli

3. Ranching & Hunting

When ranching, it’s key to have an intimate understanding of your property. That’s why the terrain and elevation data collected during an orthoimagery project can be extremely useful to ranch brokers. Water-related data like stream networks, basins, and contour lines can inform surface water decisions regarding livestock and other ranching needs. Additionally, viewshed data can be used for building blinds when hunting is allowed on the land.

manned aircraft imagery from prius intelli compared to satellite imagery

Orthoimage of a pond from Prius Intelli

4. Surveying & Land Services

Orthophotography can be a cost-effective way to gather key data used in surveying and land-related services. When used in the planning stage, high-resolution orthophotos can provide a strong foundation of knowledge for project leads and engineers. Instead of choosing traditional methods that are often expensive and time-consuming, orthoimagery can provide a more affordable alternative that’s just as useful.

5. Real Estate (Development & Valuation)

The data collected from orthoimagery is incredibly valuable for real estate developers, appraisals and valuations. Consider the water-related data, contour lines, slope rasters and elevation data available in a properly developed aerial image. This data can be used to plan out retention ponds, determine areas of high erosion, project planning and more. Plus, unlike satellite imagery that is often of a wider area than needed (not to mention obsolete), orthoimagery can be made of specific locations for more accurate, time-sensitive information.

manned aircraft imagery from prius intelli compared to satellite imagery

Orthoimage of real estate development by Prius Intelli

6. Utilities

While helpful in planning stages of most relevant industries, orthoimagery can also help businesses respond to unplanned events. Consider the utilities industry. After a large storm, an orthoimage of the affected area can help identify downed power lines and poles much more effectively than doing physical drive-bys. As another example, orthoimages can help monitor tree overgrowth so utility personnel can maintain the integrity of the power lines over time. Knowledge is power – and the data from aerial imagery can empower your business to respond effectively whenever the unexpected occurs.

manned aircraft imagery from prius intelli compared to satellite imagery

Facility aerial by Prius Intelli

7. Renewable Energy

A lot goes into the planning and development of renewable energy products. For example, solar farms require detailed analysis to meet slope requirements and dam construction requires an informed understanding of the streams and run-off systems in the area. Orthimagery and its related GIS services can provide all this and more. When processed properly, aerial imagery and elevation data can provide a real-time understanding of the environment, allowing you to use an area’s natural resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The right orthophotography matters.

At Prius Intelli, we know how important it is to understand the value of your project’s environment. Our dedicated team delivers accurate, high-resolution orthophotography, GIS services, and elevation data on demand and at an incredible value. We collect our imagery on an order-by-order basis, so your data is gathered in real-time and delivered on time. For more on how we can help your business, reach out today for a custom consultation and a free quote.

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ortho photography taken from manned aircraft by prius intelli

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How and when to use manned aircraft aerial imagery, drone or satellite

How and when to use manned aircraft aerial imagery, drone or satellite

Vertical aerial photography is invaluable for capturing geographical information that informs everything from mapping and asset condition to elevation data and change-detection. It wasn’t long after the birth of photography that someone thought to capture an image from the skies. The earliest aerial photographers used balloons, kites, rockets and even pigeons to carry their cameras.
old aerial image taken from a kite
Wilbur Wright piloted the first airplane to capture an aerial photograph in 1909. We still use airplanes to carry cameras into the skies today, but their technology has advanced greatly. The information collected goes far beyond pictures, providing a plethora of data that starts with beautiful imagery. But not all aerial photographs are created equally. Today, vertical imagery used for GIS (geographic information system) purposes is mostly done from one of three vehicles: piloted airplanes, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites. Although each has its unique value and purpose, the precision of data that can be captured and the costs associated should be considered when deciding your needs. However, keep in mind that it’s not necessarily an either/or situation. These technologies can be complementary.

Satellite Imagery

imagery taken from satellite of lower quality
Satellite images are what people find most familiar in terms of vertical geographical imagery, thanks to Google and Bing maps. The first satellites were sent into orbit in the 1950s and today hundreds of Earth Observing Satellites are in orbit around our planet with their sensors and cameras pointed back at us. The information they provide helps us to understand our planet, its geographical features and climate. People often think that with so many satellites it would be easy to obtain specific and detailed aerial imagery of almost anything or any place on Earth. It’s not. There are a few challenges with satellite imagery. First, there is the problem of what information is made available to the public. Although satellite technology exists for capturing detailed and real-time data, that data is mostly owned by governments. Regulations around privacy and national security limit what most people can access, which is mostly dated and low-resolution imagery. There is also the issue of time lag between vertical data being captured by a satellite and the image being made available. That data can be weeks, months or even years old. Satellites generally do a sweep of a particular area every couple of years. Someone looking for signs of recent land erosion or pipeline leaks won’t find satellite imagery useful. Not to mention the issue of clouds that can block views. The cost of satellite imagery can be prohibitive. Small companies often find it hard to get what they need. Satellite images are licensed by brokers who are not motivated to work with customers that only require imagery of small areas. Satellite imagery is good for a broad view of a very large area that doesn’t require fine resolution.  

Unmanned aerial vehicle imagery

example of drone used for a land survey
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), frequently referred to as drones, have been used since World War II for both military and commercial use. As the name suggests, UAVs don’t have pilots on board. However, they do require licensed operators on the ground that know what they’re doing. Drones are very special to me because that’s where I started my career in aerial imagery. Those little flying robots are just the coolest thing, but UAVs are heavily regulated due to aviation safety and privacy concerns. You need direct access to the property you want to survey and all the permissions that go along with that. The real positive about drones is that they can provide very high-quality data because of the low altitudes they are capable of. UAVs can be very tactical. If you know where you need very detailed imagery captured, you can send in a drone team.  that can record very specific data. But if you have a project of a larger size or scope, it’s really not feasible for most companies to use UAVs in today’s regulatory environment. The cost is typically prohibitive due to the man-hours and all the permissions needed.  

Manned aircraft imagery 

image out of the window of manned aircraft
Manned aircraft are just as significant for capturing aerial imagery and data today as they were in the days of the Wright brothers, who literally took aerial photography to the next altitude. Although not all operators do this, the right aerial imagery provider will carry advanced equipment that can provide very high resolution and cover extensive distances in a cost-effective way. Airplanes can cover a lot of ground very quickly. That’s a lot of data potentially being captured in a relatively short amount of time – not just visual data, but also elevations and other geographical information. Manned aircraft are also more weather and wind resilient. It is not uncommon for imagery to be needed in areas with sustained winds over 35 miles per hour. Winds like that would all but ground most UAVs due to the operating limitations of an unmanned aircraft. A company with in-house drone capabilities and hundreds of miles to cover would find it more feasible and economical to start with a broader, manned aerial survey to identify small areas that need closer examination by drone. This approach can make it possible for engineering firms to provide cost-effective imagery for their customers and multiply their own UAV imagery utility. Using unmanned vehicles with this approach provides a very clear and repeatable return on investment. Manned aircraft imagery can be invaluable for things like detecting leaks along a pipeline or for an aerial survey of a vast area of land. It’s a great solution for engineering firms, land service companies and just about anyone with an interest in understanding a piece of property or area of land. If you are trying to monitor and ensure the viability of a location-based asset, aerial imagery can make that much easier and more efficient. And with working from home so common, assets can be monitored from a desktop in an employee’s home office. Although manned aircraft aerial imagery is a stand-alone solution, it can also be complementary to UAV and satellite. 

Manned aircraft imagery vs. Satellite imagery

manned aircraft imagery from prius intelli compared to satellite imagery
At the end of the day, there is a place and a use for wide area satellite imagery, strategic, manned aircraft geographical data and surgically placed UAV/drone coverage. Satellite images can give you a very broad understanding of a region. Manned aircraft can be used to pinpoint problems across long distances and identify with precision those small areas you might want to surgically insert a drone team. The sky’s the limit with all the advanced aerial imagery technology available, but it all starts with knowing your budget, along with how fresh and detailed you want the data to be.  If you have questions about aerial imagery or would like some help understanding how it can benefit your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out to usWe’re always ready to help leaders find solutions.  

About the author:

Josh’s passion is bringing aerial imagery and GIS together for businesses to solve problems, save money, and increase gross margin. Josh brings decades of experience in manned and unmanned vehicles, imaging hardware, and producing high-quality image-based products.

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ortho photography taken from manned aircraft by prius intelli

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Prius Intelli Launches into Aerial Imagery

high quality aerial image of a small town in texas

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