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Unexpected legacy of wildfires and other emergency events: innovation

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In 2011, after tropical storm Irene devastated areas along the Schoharie Creek and the Mohawk River in upstate New York, an RIT engineer and sensor operator joined a team in a twin-engine Piper Navajo that flew over the entire flood zone, covering 28 square miles and capturing 1,400 images in a 3-1/2-hour flight. State emergency managers accessed images of the entire flood zone and used the imagery for recovery planning and damage assessment.

The four-camera system combines high-resolution color with infrared imaging and uses laser pulses to make precision elevation measurements. The lab’s airborne system delivers comprehensive overviews within 24 hours, compared with satellite systems that are less available, dependent on good weather, and take days to deliver final information.

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