Year in Review: 2015 Statewide Orthoimagery Project

A look at available data, acquisition progress and what to expect in the coming year for this important statewide data initiative.

The 2015 Statewide Orthoimagery Project, undertaken in collaboration with other state agency partners, is one of the major data projects underway at TNRIS. It meets the crucial need for new high-quality, leaf-off imagery for the entire state. As part of TNRIS's key mission to acquire data and distribute it to the public, all of the data produced through the project will be in the public domain and available through our data download page.

We wanted to take this opportunity as 2015 comes to a close to fill you in on where the project has been and what's expected in 2016. We've accomplished a lot - we've started to release finalized data - but have also encountered some setbacks. Even with a delay to the original completion date, the project has gone exceptionally well, especially in the hands of the selected data acquisition vendor Surdex Corp.

Read on to learn about the current dataset availability, the causes for data acquisition flight delays and the next steps. For the full background and history on the project, visit the project page.

Natural Color preview of El Paso Residential Area Infra Red preview of El Paso Residential Area
Residential housing in El Paso, TX acquired on Mar. 15, 2015 at 0.5-meter resolution, SCALE 1:1,890

Latest Data Access Status

We have created a primary dataset entry for the 2015 Texas Orthoimagery Program (TOP) in our DataHub for the imagery we've QC'ed (Quality Controlled) and finalized so far, which as of early December, is around 36% of the state. This imagery primarily consists of West Texas and the Panhandle. El Paso is the most prominent urban center available in this round of data. On about a monthly basis, we are incorporating the latest finalized data into this dataset as it is QC'd and processed.

In the map thumbnails (click to expand) to the right, you can view the most recent DOQQ and CCM (Compressed County Mosaic) availability. These maps are updated with each round of data additions on the project page.

TOP 2015 Online Mapping Service

In addition, we have launched a Web Mapping Service (WMS) for the 2015 TOP. You'll be able to access the imagery without downloading and have immediate access to the most current version as the dataset is updated.

To use WMS services in your CAD or GIS software package, please consult the software help or support information.

Browse, download, order, and inquire about data within the DataHub.

Natural Color preview of Lake Meredith Infra Red preview of Lake Meredith
Lake Meredith in Hutchinson County acquired on Oct. 29, 2014 at 0.5-meter resolution, SCALE 1:40,000

6-Inch and 1-Foot Buy-Up Areas

Our BUY-UP 6-inch and 1-foot areas were parts of the state sponsored by stakeholders seeking higher resolution imagery for their areas.

6,930 total square miles of 6-inch natural color and color infrared orthoimagery were independently QC’d and are now available for download.

Browse, download, order, and inquire about data within the DataHub.

Natural Color preview of Lampasas River near  Georgetown Infra Red preview of Lampasas River near Georgetown
Lampasas River in Bell County from the StratMap Georgetown 2015 6in NC\CIR dataset, SCALE 1:3000

Stay posted for upcoming Buy-Up data releases, including NGA/USGS areas in Amarillo, Dallas-Ft. Worth, El Paso, Lubbock, and the completion of remaining San Antonio River Authority areas in Refugio and Aransas Counties.

Acquisition Progress and Challenges - Clouds and Borders

Modis images captured between January and March 2015 showing heavy cloud cover.

The project has gone smoothly, in no small part thanks to the expertise and high quality service of the project vendor, Surdex. We've flown 91% of the state and been able to process and release 36% of the dataset as of December.

But due to significant rainfall and cloudy weather (as El Niño revved up in 2014), we were not able to meet the original stated completion date of September 2015, pushing us to a revised full statewide data completion date in Spring 2016.

Surdex will fly the remaining areas in the next leaf-off season, starting now in December 2015 and going through February 2016.

In other parts of the state, specfically, the border regions (see map to right), logistical issues have held up flight progress. In order to meet the image coverage requirements along the international border, Surdex must fly 15-20 miles into Mexican territory. This requires a thorough permitting process in coordination with Mexican Government authorities.

Ensuring Quality Control

Smear in high relief area before QC Smear fixed after QC
Smear identified in an area of high relief during QC by TNRIS, fixed in final product by Surdex.

The new natural color and color infrared orthoimagery are QC’d by TNRIS staff and volunteers to ensure a nearly flawless quality product to accommodate a wide variety of mapping applications for public and private users throughout the state.

Before QCing image of curved bridge, gap After QC bridge is straightened
Left: Railroad identified as offset during QC by TNRIS | Right: Fixed in final product by Surdex. Use slider to compare images

What’s next for 2016

We're looking forward to the upcoming months as we get even closer to completion of this important project.

Here's what to expect:

  • Completion of the remaining areas to be flown (9% of Texas) concentrated in the South Texas region (Dec 2015 – Feb 2016).
  • TNRIS QC image inspection of Central, East, and South Texas.
  • 100% of the state as final orthoimagery delivered to TNRIS and available for download by **Spring 2016**.
  • All statewide 0.5 meter orthoimagery available as an Esri Basemap Imagery Service.
  • BUY-UP 6-inch/1-foot areas:
    • QC and final orthoimagery delivery and download availability of NGA/USGS areas – *Amarillo, Dallas-Ft. Worth, El Paso, Lubbock*.
    • Completion of remaining San Antonio River Authority area to be flown – 1-foot *Refugio* and *Aransas Counties*

Continue to visit the project page for weekly detailed updates. You can also contact the project manager for more information.