The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 4, 2002


MAGIC towns preview space-age imagery

At the September 12 MAGIC (Minuteman Area Group for Interlocal Coordination) meeting, members previewed a revolutionary new digital imagery and software system that is being made available to all communities in the Commonwealth through the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Communities in the Merrimac Valley area that procured the technology independently make it sound better than the proverbial sliced bread insofar as it provides data for a wide variety of community needs, including assessors, planners, engineers, conservation commissions, first responders and town decision-makers. Best of all, the software is free, and costs to the town are for updating, expanding and technical training sessions. It is a Windows program, and community services, such as fire and police, can access critical information instantly on a laptop. One town that has laptops in its cruisers has installed the system, free.

The technology makes available a high-resolution, digital ortho-photography system, providing low-level and high-level imagery, with 59 pictures per square mile and the capacity to view any selected site from 12 different angles. The error is less than 1%. It is possible to select a place on a map and enlarge the view, zoom in on it, get images for either the east or west side of a building, calculate the height of the building, the square foot area of, for instance, an emergency helicopter landing site, and all of this information available immediately on a laptop.

The Pictometry Corporation offering pictometry images started in Rochester, N.Y. in 1995. While the technology has been used in intelligence work and military operations, this is the first time it has been made availble to a state government. The Mass Highway Department (MHD) had the cash to get into the system and entered into a license agreement with the corporation. Communities adopting it will enter into a license agreement with MAPC to provide them with assistance in software/imagery installation, training and technical support. Costs, after the free equipment and software, are very low — to upgrade a sector from two-way to four-way images would be less than $400. The system is upgraded every two years, and there is an option to upgrade on a yearly basis.

Robbins Mill development challenges MAGIC

Carlisle Selectman Vivian Chaput said she had been requested to bring the Robbins Mill development to MAGIC's attention. She mentioned the traffic, water resources and septic system concerns that Carlisle has about the 90-house development that Acton has already approved. Representatives from other towns, particulary those with wells and septic systems, understood and sympathized with Carlisle's problem, but were less sure about MAGIC's role in relieving the situation. There was consensus on the fact that better communication is needed between towns and some members supported the notion that MAGIC could be a channel for that communication. At this point, Acton has made its decision and it will take an appeal and litigation to change the current status of the project.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito