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Major aerial photography project aims to capture every bit of Wisconsin

A military official says reconnaissance planes are going to be crisscrossing Wisconsin over the next few weeks, in what's considered the largest effort yet to fully photograph the state.

A military official says reconnaissance planes are going to be crisscrossing Wisconsin over the next few weeks, in what's considered the largest effort yet to fully photograph the state.

There's no shortage of satellite and aerial photos of Wisconsin, but local governments say they need something better than what's already out there.

Chris Diller, Geographic Information Systems Coordinator for the state Department of Military Affairs, says online photos found on sites like Google Maps are mostly outdated, fuzzy, and incomplete. So a new $4.5-million project has crews flying eight special aircraft all across Wisconsin, to take very high-resolution, digital photos while spring lasts. Coordinators say spring is an ideal time to take such photos, because the snow cover has disappeared and not all the leaves have broken out yet.

Aerial photos are used for various applications, such as municipal or environmental planning. Diller says for this current project, they'll be used for homeland security, emergency management, and public safety purposes. This includes designing disaster response exercises, to planning Presidential visits.

Diller says the planes will fly at altitudes between 12,000 and 20,000-ft. so the operation shouldn't bother people.

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Besides county and state governments, other partners include the U.S. Geological Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The aerial photography project is expected to wrap up by mid-May.

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