How Useful Are Commercial Aerial And Satellite Images To Law Enforcement?
Aerial and satellite images available commercially can be useful to law enforcement in areas such as search and rescue, event preplanning, collision reconstruction, and training exercises.
Pictometry International was the first company to make aerial images less expensive and more accessible to county and city governments, and also helps governments secure grant money. The firm’s images are taken during flyovers at the beginning of each new contract and at regular intervals ranging from six months up to two years.
Software from Pictometry allows users to obtain measurements such as building height, square footage area, and distances. The firm can also connect data from 911 mapping firms such as Positron Public Safety Systems to yield exact images of specific locations.
Law enforcement can also access images from such providers as Google Earth, the U.S. Geological Service, TerraServer.com, LandVoyage.com, and GlobeXplorer.com; prices vary according to image resolution. But certain jurisdictions do not permit aerial photography for privacy reasons, so officers should obtain a warranty that covers airspace if necessary.
In the future, imaging may be merged with personal GPS locators to aid in Amber Alert and other situations, suggests Pictometry’s chief marketing officer Dante Pennacchia.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) uses its helicopters for aerial tactical surveillance, and has agreements with other agencies to provide assistance, says LASD Commander Charles Heal. But because such use is expensive, the LASD is mulling the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are collapsible, lightweight, and battery-operated, and also link to a small GPS-equipped laptop.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Police and Security News (10/05) Vol. 21, No. 5, P. 58; Miller, Christa M. .