Douglas County appraisers might be looking at things from a different angle later this year.
That is if county commissioners give their approval to participating in a pilot program that would produce high-resolution, 3-D images of property parcels.
"You would be able to look at it from all four angles," Appraiser Marion Johnson said. "It is kind of cutting-edge in the photography business."
Johnson and others in his office would then be able to obtain vertical and horizontal measurements of building sides, facades, windows, doorways and even under the eaves by working at a computer on their desks. They would not have to make a personal visit to the site.
The imagery system is a relatively new process offered by Aerial Cartographics of America Inc., Orlando, Fla. So far only 15 counties in the country use MultiVision oblique aerial imagery, said David Ledgerwood, ACA senior vice president of marketing. There is another company that offers an older version of a similar program, he said.
Some Kansas and Missouri counties will be installing MultiVision, including Johnson County and Jackson County, Mo., through an eight-county arrangement with the Mid-America Regional Council, Ledgerwood said. Other counties in the agreement will be added later, including Wyandotte, he said. Sedgwick County also will be using MultiVision, he said.
Under the pilot program offered to Douglas County, ACA would give the county the oblique photography, software, installation and training. It would charge $39,000 instead of the full cost of $62,000, or $2,000 per square mile, for photographing parcels in Lawrence only.
That would take care of about 27,000 parcels, or 70 percent of the county's parcels, Johnson said. Having those images would relieve his four field appraisers from having to make personal trips to check on the properties, he said.
"I would think it would help us be more efficient," Johnson said.
The oblique imagery is taken with a digital camera tilted at a 45-degree angle on a plane, Ledgerwood said. It is the software that allows the appraiser to take the measurements by computer, he said.
County commissioners have yet to give their approval for the program. Commissioners Bob Johnson, Charles Jones and Jere McElhaney asked Marion Johnson to come up with a specific plan showing how the program would be used and how it would save personnel costs. They also want to know what the ongoing cost of the system would be.
"It strikes me that this is probably a good thing to do, and it strikes me that it makes a lot of sense, not only from the standpoint of improved quality of images we'll get but also the opportunity to cut down on some personnel costs in the future," Bob Johnson said.
MultiVision also has applications for use by law enforcement, fire and emergency management departments, Ledgerwood said. But it is not a tool for spying on people, he said. The images can't show the inside layout of a building, he said.
"We never take a resolution that identifies anybody," he said. "You can't even see an address on a house. All you can tell is that there might be a human on the ground, but you don't know for sure."
A county that uses MultiVision will own the images, not ACA, he said.