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Mapping the Last Frontier

By Elizabeth Bell

alaskaAlaska, the largest state in the U.S., spanning 663,268 square miles, offers a diverse landscape of deep valleys and rigid mountains, traversed by rivers, speckled with lakes and teeming with wildlife. The State has some of the longest days and nights during the summer and winter solstices and is an ideal spot to view the Aurora Borealis. So when a recent project gave geospatial expert Brian Bailey and survey extraordinaire Roland Brown the opportunity to take the Maser Consulting Mobile LiDAR unit on an excursion to map a roadway in Fairbanks, Alaska, they boarded the first plane out. Once there, they rented a truck, mounted the unit, and hit the road. With Brian at the wheel to oversee the data acquisition, Roland managed the system operation and data collection. “Alaska’s extreme topographic and climate conditions create a fairly short annual survey and construction season”, explained Brian. “This makes it difficult for the Alaska Department of Transportation (AKDOT) to collect necessary field survey and topographical information. Using mobile mapping and other remote sensing technologies have afforded AKDOT the capability to collect large amounts of data quickly during their abbreviated summer season.” Maser Consulting’s Mobile Mapper and Data Collection Team has built a strong partnership with Quantum Spatial and was subcontracted to perform the full topographic survey data collection for AKDOT’s four-mile long roadway slated for reconstruction in Fairbanks. After the project control was completed, the data was shared with the Team in order to improve the accuracies of the mobile mapping system. The Team was responsible for using the mobile Riegl VMX 450 LiDAR unit for all of the data collection and the initial processing, which included adjusting the data to the survey control network and projecting it to the proper datum to meet the project’s requirements.  Quantum Spatial performed the complete mapping and feature extraction from the data provided by the Team and is currently handling all of the digitization and CAD deliverables for design. image4By employing mobile LiDAR mapping, the project data was collected at a rate of 1.1 million points per second, and four high resolution cameras captured images at a rate of 3 frames per second. Not only did the Team collect the necessary data for this project area in two hours, they also collected redundant data throughout the entire project area for QA purposes as well. The project survey was completed in less than six weeks, half the time it would have taken using conventional methods, which enabled the AKDOT to complete this project safely, efficiently, and cost effectively.

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