Kingston invests $170K in 3D mapping for planning and development

If you see this car driving around the city snapping photos, say cheese. You could be captured as part of a major project to 3D-map out the city. Global News Kingston

People in Kingston may have noticed a white unmarked car roving around the city, snapping photos from cameras mounted on its roof.

The car doesn’t belong to Google Maps, but rather has been commissioned by the city of Kingston, which has invested $170,000 to capture and stitch together a 3D map of the Kingston cityscape.

The city has hired Brockwell IT, a geospatial tech firm, to capture high-definition 3D images that are meant to help the city plan for future projects and manage current infrastructure.

Jeff Bumstead, Kingston’s chief information officer, says although the imaging technology used by the city is much like the cameras on top of the self-driving cars used by Google, this project will be more useful to city officials due to the heightened precision of Brockwell IT’s camera system.

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“That 3D image is a very rich image, it’s much more than a map, much more than what you see on Google Maps,” said Bumstead.

The high-definition 3D map is meant to measure the size of objects and the relationship between those objects within an inch, which Bumstead says will help determine details of city planning and management.

“We can look at our assets of that image — be it a streetlight, a street sign or a tree — and we can actually measure the height of that tree — see if it’s impinging — measure the relationship of it to a building, and really manage what’s happening in the city.”

As for the $170,000 price tag, Bumstead says it was justified due to the potential long-term benefits of the project.

“The city will own this data and we’ll use it for years in the future,” said Bumstead.

Once the data is collected, Bumstead said the imagery will be available to all departments in the city. When asked if the 3D images would be available to the public, Bumstead wasn’t sure.

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“Pieces of it may be available to the public at some point. It’s obviously a very large system.”

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Bumstead said that Kingston is one of the first Canadian municipalities to commission a 3D map of its own city for planning and management purposes.

The total mapping of the city will take two weeks to complete, and all licence plates and faces captured in the images will be blurred for privacy purposes.

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