Bluesky to upgrade its aerial mapping portfolio and create high-resolution maps of the UK


The UK’s leading supplier of aerial survey services and data, Bluesky, has revealed plans to update more than 61,776 square miles (160,000km2) of aerial photography, color infrared imagery, and 3D terrain mapping, in 2018.

Bluesky’s aerial mapping datasets are used by multiple national and local government agencies across the country for transportation and infrastructure planning, and asset management. The company also develops innovative solutions for environmental applications, including the UK’s first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping, and citywide ‘heat loss’ maps, and is currently developing several noise and air quality mapping products. When combined, the upgrade program equates to a total of 247,105 square miles (640,000 km2) of data updates across the four datasets. This ambitious update program will include London, Manchester, South Yorkshire, Kent, Surrey, and West Sussex, together with other large areas of England, Scotland and Wales due for renewal this season. Bluesky also anticipates the completion of its nationwide coverage of the Republic of Ireland. The company is currently partnering with geographic information provider Esri to support telecommunications companies and government with the roll-out of 5G and full-fiber services across the UK.

Bluesky operates survey aircraft from flying bases at East Midlands Airport, and locations in Ireland. The company invests in the latest survey technology and is currently using Microsoft Vexcel UltraCam Eagle cameras and a Teledyne Optech Galaxy LiDAR system integrated with a PhaseOne camera and thermal sensor. Bluesky plans to capture at least 30,888 square miles (80,000km2) of aerial photography at high resolutions, 4 and 5 inches (10 and 12.5cm), in addition to a further 20,077 square miles (52,000 km2) of imagery at standard 10-inch (25cm) resolution, across England, Wales and Scotland during the 2018 flying season.

An additional 12,355 square miles (32,000 km2) will be captured in Ireland, completing Bluesky’s coverage of the country. In addition to the aerial photography, Bluesky will also be capturing color infrared (CIR) data, which provides a valuable tool for studies in vegetation extent and health, and other effects of human activity on the earth and its environment. Highly accurate detailed height models, Digital Terrain Models (DTM) and Digital Surface Models (DSM), will also be created at 16.4 and 6.5ft (5m and 2m) resolutions respectively.

“2018 will be a pivotal year for the company, as we complete the latest update cycle of our nationwide coverage of aerial photography both in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland,” commented Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky International. “As data is captured and processed it will be delivered to clients under existing contracts, made available via WMS feeds to existing users, and will be accessible on our website where customers can search for, view and download their choice of aerial photography, color infrared imagery, digital surface models and digital elevation models and much more.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).