Technology could help prepare for floodsSubmitted: 04/07/2014
Story By Kaitlyn Howe

Technology could help prepare for floods
EAGLE RIVER - Melting snow could mean flooding, but new technology in the Northwoods could help plan for it.

Vilas County has new mapping data they can use to determine if certain areas might flood.

They got the data, called LiDAR, last spring.

The county paid for a plane to fly over the land. The information the plane got was then used for an accurate map of the county.

"We contracted a flight and what this flight does is they send down laser pulses as they're flying, and they get returns from those lasers. And from [that] flight data, they are able to generate [data] for us," says Adam Grassl, Vilas County GIS Analyst.

Oneida County will also have LiDAR this summer.

LiDAR can create an accurate map even with trees because they use light to get the data.

"It's light and it can get right down to the ground, where sometimes if you go with a GPS it's hard to get data through the tree cover," says Grassl.

The map shows elevation of the land.

The county could use that information to plan where melting snow will go.

"You could model if we got a lot of snow here, is it going to run off this way, or is going to run off the other way?" says Grassl.

The data isn't just helpful in preparing for floods, it could also help with internet connectivity.

"Finding out where some of the best locations for the towers are based on elevation, or line of sight, tree cover," says Grassl.

The information can also be used for road planning, coordinating search and rescue, and utility planning.

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