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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 874-7892

Updated aerial images of Rhode Island
now available on URI website

KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 11, 2003 -- The Environmental Data Center at the University of Rhode Island now has the most up-to-date black and white aerial images of the state of Rhode Island available on its website ( for the public to view and use.

The R.I. Department of Transportation contracted for the 1997 photography and contributed the digital collection to the Rhode Island Geographic Information System (RIGIS) database, which is maintained by URI.

"These aerial photos provide much higher resolution than any other photos ever taken covering the entire state, and the computer server hosting the images is much faster so users will get much better performance than with the old system," explained Environmental Data Center Director Charles LaBash. "The images are much sharper so you can zoom in much further and achieve better definition of features."

Most of the users of the website are municipal officials, land managers, and members of conservation commissions and planning boards who need aerial photos of specific properties. Developers, environmental researchers, and real estate companies are also regular users.

But it’s not only these official users that access the site.

"We’ve been hearing from hikers who use the photos to trace their route, and lots of individuals use it just to zoom in on their house, among other things," LaBash said.

The website also provides direct links to overhead images of places of popular interest, including the Jamestown Bridge, the Johnston Landfill, the Statehouse, Roger Williams Park Zoo and McCoy Stadium.

In addition to the 1997 aerial pictures, the website also has 1995 aerial images as well as U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps that include place names, road names and the topography of the region, which cannot be captured in an aerial photo.

"Best of all, the new data is geo-referenced," LaBash said, "so that allows you to bring these images into different mapping programs and overlay various other geographic information."

At the RIGIS website, users can see historic aerial images taken in 1939, 1951-52, 1962, 1972, 1981 and 1992 to easily see how land use in Rhode Island has changed.

The Department of Transportation and RIGIS recently contracted for another set of aerial photos of the state to be taken in 2003. Those images will be available on the Environmental Data Center’s image website in full color in early 2004.

"This true color imagery will be a great enhancement to this statewide database rich in demographic, natural and cultural geographic information," explained John Stachelhaus, RIGIS coordinator.

For more information about the Environmental Data Center and how to access and use the aerial photos, call LaBash at 874-5406.

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