Gage County considering updated aerial mapping, for multiple uses

BEATRICE – Gage County is considering approval of a new three-year contract for an aerial flyover and mapping service. The plan, through Pictometry,  is used in things like property assessment, law enforcement, emergency management, zoning and highway operations. It’s also available to the public on the county’s website.

Gage County Assessor Patti Milligan says the last time a flyover review was done in the county, was 2016. Counties are required to take pictures or update every property, every six years.

Ryan Poots, the District Manager for Pictometry gave a demonstration to county officials yesterday on the product, which is used by several counties in southeast Nebraska.  "Everybody in the counties can use this. There is no additional cost for any additional departments to utilize this technology. We are an imagery firm that fits into your GIS or websites. We're not replacing anybody."

The cost to Gage County over the three-year contract would be some $37,000 annually. The City of Beatrice, which also uses the imagery, would pay a share of the cost.  Poots says the system captures rooftop and three-dimensional images.

"We're not reading license plates, we're not peeking into any windows. The resolution isn't near that good. All this is, is a public safety tool and an assessment tool, at its core."

The company uses Cessna and Piper aircraft to do flyovers of counties, photographing what’s on the ground. Flyovers are done generally in the fall or spring when foliage is thin, providing less obstruction for detecting buildings. There is a change finder feature that helps show what no longer exists, or what is new.

"You can basically say, I want to look at new structures...and I want to look could be taxing districts, townships....whatever the county wants to use. It doesn't matter to us. You literally just go one-to-one and you start looking at, this building wasn't there. Do I have it? I have it, its been measured and verified, and then move on to the next one."

County Assessor Patti Milligan says the system doesn’t replace anyone but is an added tool that helps in assessment of property.
"We're using it every day. The biggest thing for me, now, is from the 2016 imagery to 2021, we're going to have a lot of things that have changed."

Counties also have access to adjacent counties aerial mapping at no additional charge, more mutual aid purposes. The imagery allows for measuring buildings for assessment purposes through a distance tool on the service that is not available to the general public. It also provides elevation data.