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Ready to fly: Erik Woods (camera operator, navigator and mechanic), Minister of Environment Marc Bean, and project manager for the Bermuda Mapping Update Project in the Land Surveys Section Peter Hopkin stand on the runway of LF Wade International Airport with the aircraft in the background that was used to conduct the aerial survey of the Island last week.   (Photo: Robert Daniels, Airport Operations.)

      An aeroplane swooped over Bermuda at low altitude as part of project to create a digital map of the Island. The plane had a camera mounted in the fuselage which took a series of photographs of the ground over the course of 15 runs in order to cover the whole Island According to a press release from the Ministry of the Environment, the survey company will extract information from the photographs, and create a digital map of Bermuda. They undertook the survey last week.

technicians checking the gear
Checking: Minister Marc Bean inspects the aircraft’s equipment with camera operator Erik Woods.(Photo: Robert Daniels, Airport Operations.)
“This aerial survey is the culmination of seven years’ work to upgrade Bermuda’s national reference system for modern use,” said a Government spokeswoman. “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.”
The survey was commissioned by the Department of Land Surveys and Registration. The spokeswoman said that once the information is extracted from the photographs to create a digital map, a technician can view the ground in three dimensions, and can trace the outlines and buildings with great accuracy. “The mapping project will cost about $260,000. The data will be used extensively throughout Government, but copies of the photographs and mapping will be available for purchase by the public later in the year,” said the spokeswoman.

      Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Marc Bean 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 1,200 addresses have been created and are not mapped.” The Government spokeswoman noted that following the original announcement of the survey in late March, questions were raised on social media sites as to why Government is paying for a survey rather than using the free Google Earth website. She explained there are “key differences” between the two, including that Google Earth is just an image and does not include map data as the Bermuda survey will.
technicians checking the gear
Ready to fly: Minister Marc Bean, pilot Mark Schubert, project manager for the Bermuda Mapping Update Project Peter Hopkin and Erik Woods (camera operator, navigator and mechanic). (Photo: Robert Daniels, Airport Operations.)
“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,“ said the spokeswoman. “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.” She said the Bermuda survey will also 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,” she explained, adding that the imagery will also be higher resolution than Google Earth.
      The finished project will be “invaluable” to the work of Government agencies such as the Ministry of Public Works, the Department of Planning and the Department of Land Valuation, according to the spokeswoman.

Members of the public with questions should contact Project Manager Peter Hopkin at 294-9271