Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/28/2001 01:10 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 19-DIGITAL ORTHOIMAGERY AND ELEVATION DATA                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SCALZI announced  that the next order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO.  19,  Urging the  United  States                                                               
Congress to  pass legislation  to fund  the acquisition  of high-                                                               
resolution digital  orthoimagery and  digital elevation  data for                                                               
the entire  state of  Alaska.  [The  resolution was  sponsored by                                                               
the House Resources Standing Committee.]                                                                                        
Number 0441                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR SCALZI  explained that  the technology  being introduced                                                               
in HJR 19 is "three-dimensional  [3-D] mapping."  The majority of                                                               
Alaska maps were  produced between the 1950s and the  1980s.  The                                                               
resolution asks the  U.S. Congress to provide  Alaska the funding                                                               
for  the  same  technological  benefits  provided  to  all  other                                                               
GUST  PANOS,  Chairperson,   Digital  Orthoimagery  Subcommittee,                                                               
Alaska  Geographic  Data  Committee  (AGDC),  gave  a  PowerPoint                                                               
presentation on  the Alaska Orthoimagery Initiative,  compiled by                                                               
the AGDC.   He  explained that the  goal of HJR  19 is  to obtain                                                               
funding  from  Congress  to   acquire  digital  orthoimagery  and                                                               
digital elevation  data for Alaska,  to be made available  on the                                                               
Internet for all the agencies and  the public to use.  [Mr. Panos                                                               
followed  the format  of the  spiral-bound booklet  found in  the                                                               
committee packet.  He also provided a map and 3-D glasses.]                                                                     
MR.  PANOS  defined  "digital orthoimagery"  (DO)  as  an  aerial                                                               
photograph  that shows  everything on  the earth's  surface at  a                                                               
moment in  time, with map-like  features that allow  for accurate                                                               
measurement and depiction of township  and range, or latitude and                                                               
longitude.    He  listed the  DO  specifications  for  five-meter                                                               
resolution:   statewide coverage; quarter-quad format,  like maps                                                               
in  the Lower  48  with 1:24,000  scale; color-infrared  imagery;                                                               
national  map accuracy  standards; and  North American  1983 data                                                               
that  is being  adopted nationwide.    He also  described the  DO                                                               
specifications for  one-meter resolution:   urbanized  areas, 227                                                               
federally  recognized   Native  villages,   major  transportation                                                               
corridors and the  trans-Alaska pipeline; color-infrared imagery;                                                               
quarter-quad format;  national map accuracy standards;  and North                                                               
American 1983 data.                                                                                                             
MR.  PANOS next  described  digital elevation  data  (DED) as  an                                                               
array  of  [elevation  values]  representing  the  shape  of  the                                                               
earth's surface.   He explained that existing  elevation data for                                                               
Alaska,  which was  derived from  USGS [United  States Geological                                                               
Survey] maps, is not very  accurate.  He cited the specifications                                                               
for DED:  30-meter postings,  which show a latitude and longitude                                                               
point every 30 meters; 7-meter  vertical accuracy; and 1983 North                                                               
American data.   Mr.  Panos stated  that the uses  of DED  are to                                                               
make  geometric  corrections  for   orthoimagery  and  to  derive                                                               
topographical  information  for  calculating  aspects,  drainage,                                                               
watersheds,   solar  insulation,   slopes,  and   landforms,  for                                                               
example, and for generating contours.                                                                                           
MR. PANOS provided an overview of  the AGDC.  Formed in 1993, the                                                               
AGDC  currently  has  40 members  representing  State  of  Alaska                                                               
departments, federal  agencies, municipalities,  boroughs, Native                                                               
organizations, private enterprise, and  the University of Alaska.                                                               
Its  purpose is  to provide  statewide leadership  for surveying,                                                               
mapping,  and  related  spatial data  coordination.    Mr.  Panos                                                               
specified  AGDC's  overall  objectives:     to  build  geographic                                                               
information  partnerships in  Alaska; to  leverage resources;  to                                                               
promote  the  visions and  goals  of  the National  Spatial  Data                                                               
Infrastructure; and to serve as  the technical advisory committee                                                               
to the  Alaska Land  Managers Forum.   Mr.  Panos added  that the                                                               
reason AGDC was  given approximately $8 million  from the federal                                                               
government was  because it leveraged  its resources by  forming a                                                               
partnership with those other groups.                                                                                            
MR.   PANOS   mentioned   aviation  safety   and   infrastructure                                                               
development,   put  together   by  the   FAA  [Federal   Aviation                                                               
Administration], the "Capstone project folks,"  and Raytheon.  He                                                               
explained that presently the FAA  is trying to provide leadership                                                               
to   improve   aviation   safety,  air   traffic   control,   and                                                               
infrastructure  development.   He  described  eight "hot  button"                                                               
uses of  orthoimagery:   first, to  increase safety  via Capstone                                                               
technology,  utilizing  more  accurate   data;  second,  to  more                                                               
accurately chart publications for  both VFR [visual flight rules]                                                               
and IFR  [instrument flight rules]  flights; third, to  lower the                                                               
instrument-approach  minimums,  resulting  in more  arrivals  and                                                               
departures; fourth,  to augment planning information  for airport                                                               
location and development; fifth, to  aid in managing airspace and                                                               
creating  3-D  traffic  modeling;  sixth, to  plan  and  zone  to                                                               
protect  existing  and  future   arrival  and  departure  routes;                                                               
seventh,  to accurately  locate  towers, power  lines, and  other                                                               
aircraft  obstructions;  and  eighth, to  provide  military  area                                                               
charting   and  routes   for   military   and  civilian   traffic                                                               
Number 1240                                                                                                                     
MR.  PANOS informed  members  that the  Alaska  Fire Service  has                                                               
compiled reported  uses of orthoimagery in  disaster response and                                                               
hazard  prevention.   He  said  fire is  a  natural  part of  the                                                               
Alaskan  ecosystem, and  fire management  is  fundamental to  the                                                               
protection and  enhancement of  human values,  wildlife, habitat,                                                               
and  ecosystem   integrity;  wildfires  burn   approximately  one                                                               
million  acres  a year,  and  suppression  response is  based  on                                                               
statewide  fire  management  plans.   Mr.  Panos  also  mentioned                                                               
prescribed fire plans  for fuel hazard reduction.   He listed the                                                               
following  uses by  Alaska  Fire Service  for  orthoimagery:   to                                                               
assess fuel  types and changes  in surface features;  to identify                                                               
resource  habitat  to  assess the  level  of  [fire]  suppression                                                               
efforts  necessary; to  strategically plan  prescribed burns;  to                                                               
locate natural fire  barriers, which helps in  crew placement; to                                                               
pinpoint ingress  and egress  routes; and  to plan  relocation of                                                               
village landfills for fire prevention.                                                                                          
MR. PANOS discussed  the Alaska Land Transfer Program.   He said,                                                               
"The state and federal government  and Native corporations are in                                                               
partnership  to  execute the  largest  surveying  effort in  U.S.                                                               
history  and a  huge  adjudication effort."    The transfer  will                                                               
shift 104 million acres to the  state and 44 million acres to the                                                               
Native corporations.   Mr. Panos  stated that he had  worked with                                                               
the cadastral  surveyors at BLM  [Bureau of Land  Management] "to                                                               
put  this  together."     He  listed  the   following  ways  that                                                               
orthoimagery serves  as a reference  source:  to  validate Native                                                               
allotment locations  with accuracy,  thereby spending  less money                                                               
to  do so;  to  develop  survey plans  for  ANCSA [Alaska  Native                                                               
Claims Settlement  Act] and state  selections; to  identify field                                                               
[survey] transportation  needs for four-wheeled  vehicles, fixed-                                                               
wing [aircraft], boats, or helicopters;  to preview the landscape                                                               
and  estimate labor  [costs], which  are currently  between $8-10                                                               
million a  year; to determine  what technology and  techniques to                                                               
use  by previewing  the  landscape; and  to  delineate bodies  of                                                               
water that are 50 acres or more in size.                                                                                        
Number 1559                                                                                                                     
MR. PANOS  stated that everyone  knows [development  of Alaska's]                                                               
natural  resources is  key to  [the  state's] economic  vitality;                                                               
consequently,  [the   state]  must   work  with  the   best  data                                                               
available.   He mentioned receiving  help from  Phillips [Alaska,                                                               
Inc.],  Minerals  Management  Service,  and  BLM  to  create  the                                                               
example  in the  committee packet.   Mr.  Panos highlighted  some                                                               
uses  of orthoimagery  in oil  field development:   to  determine                                                               
lease  boundary locations,  by  projecting  the lease  boundaries                                                               
over  the  orthophoto; to  delineate  hydrologic  basins and  the                                                               
effect  that oil  development  will  have on  them;  to plan  the                                                               
routing  of ice  roads; to  evaluate water  sources for  ice-road                                                               
construction;   to   determine   locations   for   infrastructure                                                               
development; to  locate ecological monitoring stations;  to serve                                                               
as the  base material for  [sensitive habitat locations];  and to                                                               
use as a communication tool for public meetings.                                                                                
MR.  PANOS  turned to  the  issue  of  public safety  and  "Legal                                                               
Access,"  a  report  compiled  by  an  easement  management  team                                                               
composed   of   state   and  federal   employees   as   well   as                                                               
representatives  from  the Native  corporations.    He said  many                                                               
easements  in Alaska  give  access to  major  waterways on  state                                                               
federal  and municipality  lands; there  are approximately  3,000                                                               
easements in Alaska, many of which  cross Native land.  Mr. Panos                                                               
told the  committee that  easements are not  in good  shape right                                                               
now.   He  pointed  out  some color-coded  lines  on  a map  that                                                               
indicated disputed  easements and proposed easements.   He listed                                                               
the  uses  for orthoimagery  regarding  legal  access and  public                                                               
safety:    to  identify  conflicts  between  easements  and  land                                                               
ownership;  to  reroute  existing  easements  because  of  public                                                               
safety  concerns; to  improve, maintain,  and mark  easements; to                                                               
avoid  placing easements  in  [environmentally sensitive  areas];                                                               
and  to  identify  discrepancies among  [locations  of  reserved]                                                               
easements to actual trails.                                                                                                     
Number 1838                                                                                                                     
MR. PANOS next  pointed to Resource Assessment  [and Public Use].                                                               
He  read,  "Public  access  to   Alaska's  natural  resources  is                                                               
essential   to  meet   increasing   tourism,  recreation,   [and]                                                               
development demands."  He stated  that good land-use planning and                                                               
environmental assessment  are necessary  to ensure  public access                                                               
while meeting environmental considerations.   Mr. Panos indicated                                                               
an orthoimagery map [located in  the committee packet] that shows                                                               
a before-and-after  picture of "the old  Sourdough Campground" on                                                               
the Richardson Highway, which was  a mosquito-infested area prior                                                               
to the application of orthoimagery technology.                                                                                  
MR. PANOS  listed the following  uses for  orthoimagery regarding                                                               
resource  assessment, compiled  by the  people in  the Glennallen                                                               
district and  the park  service:  to  locate existing  ATV trails                                                               
and assess their impact on  land, water, and living resources; to                                                               
inventory overused  public access  trails, in order  to determine                                                               
whether they  should be shut  down or rehabilitated; to  plan for                                                               
optimal  location   of  new  public  access   trails;  to  locate                                                               
[publicly established]  camping sites; to identify  which camping                                                               
sites  are  in need  of  restoration;  and  to plan  for  optimal                                                               
locations for camping sites, so that  people can get the best use                                                               
out of them, while still maintaining the environment.                                                                           
Number 1980                                                                                                                     
MR. PANOS told the committee  that according to the Department of                                                               
Community & Economic  Development, [more than] 35  percent of the                                                               
communities in rural  Alaska don't have flush  toilets or running                                                               
water; he  added that he believed  that figure had dropped  to 30                                                               
percent.   Many [federal,  state, and  local] initiatives  are in                                                               
progress to  improve [conditions] in the  rural communities, with                                                               
a focus  to improve  the infrastructure  in terms  of sanitation,                                                               
water,  power,   and  transportation.    Mr.   Panos  listed  the                                                               
following ways that orthoimagery could  be used for community and                                                               
economic    development:       to    identify   culturally    and                                                               
environmentally  sensitive  areas,  such  as  salmon-fishing  and                                                               
berry-picking  locales;  to  identify communities'  existing  and                                                               
future land uses by mapping  out trails, buildings, and roads; to                                                               
identify the boundaries of ANCSA  [section 14(c)] land claims; to                                                               
verify  the boundaries  of the  major landowners;  to figure  out                                                               
hazards,  such  as flood  plains;  and  to  serve  as an  aid  to                                                               
communication with the people of the communities.                                                                               
Number 2085                                                                                                                     
MR.  PANOS  defined  "Base  Map Data  Framework"  as  "layers  of                                                               
information"  for which  Alaska has  a  need.   The framework  is                                                               
depicted on  a graph [shown  in the committee  packet] consisting                                                               
of  the   following  elements:    elevation;   geodetic  control;                                                               
[digital] hydrography;  bathymetry, which shows the  depth of the                                                               
coastline;  cadastral [surveying],  which essentially  is showing                                                               
the  location of  all  survey  boundaries; transportation,  which                                                               
involves getting  coordinates on  roads; government  units, which                                                               
shows who has administrative jurisdiction  over which land; land-                                                               
cover  information,  which  shows  land,  water,  and  vegetation                                                               
types; elevation [data]; and digital orthoimagery.                                                                              
MR.  PANOS  explained  that   elevation,  geodetic  control,  and                                                               
hydrography  maps  are  complete,  while  bathymetry,  cadastral,                                                               
transportation, governmental  units, and  land-cover map  work is                                                               
still in  progress.  In  contrast, (accurate) elevation  maps and                                                               
digital orthoimagery  maps [for Alaska]  do not exist.   He said,                                                               
as  an  example,  that digital  orthoimagery  could  supply  such                                                               
information such as  the exact dates during which  a pilot should                                                               
not  fly through  a certain  area, in  order to  avoid disturbing                                                               
moose or caribou calving.                                                                                                       
MR. PANOS  told the committee that  the average map of  Alaska is                                                               
over 40 years  old; many of the  maps are over 50 years  old.  He                                                               
added  that  there are  no  plans  on  the  horizon by  the  U.S.                                                               
Geological Survey (USGS)  to update them.  He  indicated the last                                                               
statewide base [survey]  for imagery was in  1978, for Fairbanks;                                                               
he showed the  committee two maps of Fairbanks  [in the committee                                                               
packet] and pointed out the changes  in the area [over a 21-year-                                                               
period],   which  are   highlighted   by  the   use  of   digital                                                               
MR.  PANOS mentioned  approaching  the  "Commerce Business  Daily                                                               
(indisc.)" with  an RFI (request  for information),  to determine                                                               
[data  acquisition] costs.   He  called this  the "sticker  shock                                                               
page."   He said the  collection of the digital  information data                                                               
would take approximately  four years, at a  cost of approximately                                                               
$60 million.   Regarding data accessing, Mr. Panos  said that the                                                               
information has  no licensing restriction  on it like  many data;                                                               
consequently,  it would  be  put  on the  Internet  as it  became                                                               
available.   The information would  be available on  the Internet                                                               
through  the   Alaska  Geospatial  Clearinghouse  and   could  be                                                               
ordered,  either  from  the University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks  [a                                                               
potential in-state repository] or  the USGS EROS [Earth Resources                                                               
Observation System] Data Center.   He stated that the fee charged                                                               
to the consumer would only be the cost of the compact disk.                                                                     
Number 2338                                                                                                                     
MR. PANOS spoke  next regarding letters of endorsement.   He told                                                               
the committee that  so far, [AGDC] has 55  letters of endorsement                                                               
from  the following  groups:   the federal  government, including                                                               
the National Digital Orthophoto Program,  the U.S. Air Force, the                                                               
U.S.  Census Bureau,  and the  Bureau of  Land Management,  among                                                               
others;  industry and  advocacy  groups,  including the  Resource                                                               
Development Council [for Alaska,  Inc.], the Alaska Land Managers                                                               
Forum  (ph), Arctic  Power, Institute  of the  North, the  Alaska                                                               
Airmen's  Association,  Inc.;  private  industry,  including  oil                                                               
companies, engineering  firms, and mining  companies; conservancy                                                               
groups,  such  as the  Nature  Conservancy  and Ducks  Unlimited;                                                               
Native corporations, including the  Association of ANCSA Regional                                                               
Corporation  Presidents/CEOs, Inc.;  local government,  including                                                               
municipalities and  boroughs; several  State of  Alaska agencies,                                                               
with  the  help of  Senator  Phillips;  and professional  mapping                                                               
companies, including "three of the more prominent ones."                                                                        
Number 2443                                                                                                                     
MR.  PANOS showed  a map  of digital  "orthoquads" currently  for                                                               
sale in Alaska "on what  we call the 'National Aerial Photography                                                               
Program' desktop,"  comprising basically the area  from the Kenai                                                               
peninsula to the Wasilla area.   He noted that Alaska is the only                                                               
state that  does not  belong to  the National  Digital Orthophoto                                                               
MR. PANOS explained that the  National Aerial Photography Program                                                               
takes aerial  photography, which the National  Digital Orthophoto                                                               
Program turns into  orthophotos.  Referring to  "the archive," he                                                               
showed another  graph depicting,  in color,  everything "covered"                                                               
to date,  which does not include  Alaska.  He mentioned  a seven-                                                               
year  plan that  spans from  1997-2003,  in which  Alaska is  not                                                               
included.   Mr.  Panos  noted that  recently  the NASA  [National                                                               
Aeronautics  and  Space  Administration]   shuttle  project  -  a                                                               
photographic mapping  mission - covered  an area from  60 degrees                                                               
north  to 60  degrees  south,  which did  not  include [most  of]                                                               
MR.  PANOS  told  members  that spatial  data  is  essential  for                                                               
planning,  developing,  and  managing  assets,  improving  living                                                               
conditions,  and  protecting  the   environment.    It  increases                                                               
knowledge   and  reduces   uncertainties,  allowing   for  better                                                               
decisions  from  which  "we"  will   reap  savings.    Mr.  Panos                                                               
indicated  the value  of spatial  data used  in "a  good decision                                                               
support program"  is worth 1 to  4 percent of the  total value of                                                               
the  resources  being managed;  for  example,  if Alaska  had  $1                                                               
trillion  worth of  resources, 1  percent would  be $10  billion.                                                               
Thus good infrastructure information would pay off considerably.                                                                
MR. PANOS noted that the  next point was procured from Australia:                                                               
When there is good spatial  data infrastructure, the cost-benefit                                                               
is about  a 1:9 ratio.   He said  some people at  Ducks Unlimited                                                               
figured out  a 1:7  ratio on  their return.   He stated  that the                                                               
benefits  of  spatial  data  increase;  more  organizations  have                                                               
access  to the  data, which  means  that everyone  is using  good                                                               
information on which  to base decisions.  Mr. Panos  said that is                                                               
the reason [AGDC] is putting the information on the Internet.                                                                   
Number 2625                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  SCALZI  commented that  the  list  of endorsements  was                                                               
Number 2650                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE FATE pointed out that  a [pilot] could not file an                                                               
instrument flight plan without a  published navigational aid, and                                                               
asked how the  initiative would increase the  number of published                                                               
navigational aids in small villages.                                                                                            
MR. PANOS said  he would have to  ask the people at the  FAA.  He                                                               
     The  point they  were making,  to me,  on this  is that                                                                    
     they don't have good terrain  data out in the Bush, and                                                                    
     so their  approaches have  to be  very ...  long coming                                                                    
     in.   They said if  they had better terrain  data, they                                                                    
     could  lower their  approaches and  get more  people in                                                                    
     and out.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE  responded, "Well,  I'm  a  flier, and  that                                                               
doesn't  quite add  up to  ...  how it's  done.   But that's  all                                                               
right;  we'll let it pass."                                                                                                     
MR. PANOS  reported that actual products,  developed with AeroMap                                                               
and  the Alaska  Science and  Technology Foundation,  would "come                                                               
out  of this  program"; a  variety of  projects can  be generated                                                               
with orthophoto  and with digital  elevation data.   He indicated                                                               
some examples  on the  wall of the  committee room  and mentioned                                                               
additional 3-D  material.  In  response to a comment  by Co-Chair                                                               
Scalzi about  the effects of  wearing the 3-D glasses,  Mr. Panos                                                               
said the digital elevation data  makes it possible to perform 3-D                                                               
"fly-throughs"  of  an  area.     The  U.S.  Air  Force  is  very                                                               
interested  in this  technology, for  example, because  it allows                                                               
using a simulator to practice air operations.                                                                                   
Number 2770                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR SCALZI  asked Mr. Panos why  Alaska was not up  to speed                                                               
with the Lower 48 regarding this technology.                                                                                    
MR. PANOS  replied that the  Alaska is  too big, and  covering an                                                               
area of its  size would be expensive.   He said for  years he has                                                               
brought up  the subject to  the USGS,  which is hesitant  to deal                                                               
with  Alaska  because  of  the  amount of  money  that  would  be                                                               
involved.    He recounted  that  someone  in North  Carolina  had                                                               
suggested Alaska's  "counties" could help pay,  but he'd informed                                                               
the person that  the North Slope Borough, for example,  is as big                                                               
as North Carolina, but with only 10,000 people.                                                                                 
Number 2845                                                                                                                     
JOHN  ELLIS, AeroMap  U.S., Inc.,  came before  the committee  to                                                               
explain the  purpose of  the 3-D  glasses that  he provided.   He                                                               
said  the  digital elevation  model  is  a  3-D model,  which  is                                                               
accurate horizontally and  to 2.5 meters; the 3-D  glasses aid in                                                               
seeing the  model.  Mr.  Ellis added that  land-cover information                                                               
and other information can be  draped over the model, producing "a                                                               
whole new  world - almost like  something you can pick  up."  Mr.                                                               
Ellis pointed  out that  this technology is  not new;  almost all                                                               
image-processing  software  available  today can  automate  these                                                               
types of maps.   For example, children could get  on the Internet                                                               
and download  an image of  their favorite campground to  see what                                                               
the elevation  differences are.   He  mentioned software  such as                                                               
Number 2969                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN moved  to report  HJR 19  out of  committee                                                               
with individual  recommendations and  the attached  fiscal notes.                                                               
There being no  objection, HJR 19 moved from  the House Resources                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

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