Richland County Uses EarthData’s Direct-to-Digital Approach for Countywide Mapping

Frederick, MD (January 23, 2006) – EarthData began work this week on a multiyear mapping project for Richland County, South Carolina.  Using its state-of-the-art direct-to-digital imaging process, EarthData will produce high-resolution (1-foot pixel) color and near-infrared digital orthophotography for the entire 756-square-mile county by summer 2006.  A second countywide update will be delivered in the spring of 2008. 

The all-digital project approach supports Richland County’s GIS Implementation Plan, which calls to transition the county from conventional film-based mapping projects undertaken once a decade to digital imaging projects that take place every-other-year.  “Moving aerial mapping from capital investment to operational budgets is a necessary institutional change for local governments as land development and growth outpace previous practices related to air photo collection,” explained Dr. Patrick Bresnahan, Richland County Geographic Information Officer.

EarthData CEO Anne Hale Miglarese, a South Carolina native and former employee of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, praised Richland County for its leadership in adopting the all-digital approach.  “We are proud to be working with one of the most progressive counties in the state,” she said, noting its standing as the first South Carolina county to have employed lidar and other digital remote sensing technologies.  “The use of direct-to-digital imaging for countywide mapping will enable Richland County to receive high-quality products in record time and at lower prices than possible with conventional methods.”

As one of the fastest growing economies in the region, Richland County will use the natural color products to update its key infrastructure, such as roads and buildings, to support planning, emergency response, and public works.  The near-infrared products will be used for land-use change detection and natural resource management activities, among others.

Two additional stakeholders in the project include McEntire Air National Guard Base and the US Army Installation at Fort Jackson. Their contribution reinforces Dr. Bresnahan’s belief that this project is a model for future county mapping procurements.  “We assessed our needs, built consensus among multiple agencies, and selected a contractor based on quality performance and experience.  And, the use of the digital imaging approach truly represents the use of technology to get mapping products faster and more efficiently than ever before possible, without sacrificing quality.” 

Once completed, project data will be made available to the general public through the county’s online GIS center at

The Richland County project, together with other projects in South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee, expands EarthData’s presence in the southeast United States.

About EarthData
EarthData is an airborne data collection, mapping, and GIS services organization that provides clients with customized products, services, and GIS applications to support a wide range of land-use, resource management, and engineering activities.  With its fleet of aircraft, the organization collects aerial photography, uses an airborne laser system (lidar) and imaging radar (GeoSAR) to produce 3D terrain models, and develops or deploys other remote sensing technologies to detect thermal and multispectral information about the earth’s surface.  EarthData offices in Florida, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Washington, DC, use this data to create and supply photogrammetric, lidar, radar, and digital orthophoto mapping and GIS applications and services.  EarthData also owns the mid-west mapping and GIS company, Horizons, Inc., with offices in South Dakota and Minnesota.  (