JOHNSTOWN - Pictometry aerial imaging has become a useful tool for Fulton County government, officials say.
The county first used the technology about five years ago to help emergency responders. Today, the county is using it for applications such as drug-bust planning, code enforcement and assessing.
County Planner Scott Henze gave the county Planning Board a demonstration on the county's ongoing use of Pictometry last week.
Fulton County Planner Scott Henze gives a Pictometry demonstration to the county Planning Board last week at the Fort Johnstown Annex.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
"I really don't know of a project where we haven't used Pictometry," Henze said.
Pictometry users can access multiple aerial views of locations and identify features to understand structures and surrounding areas. The software program is marketed by Pictometry International Corp. of Rochester.
Henze said the Fulton County Sheriff's Department in 2004 received a $159,000 state grant for Pictometry for a wireless E-911 project.
Since then, Henze said a database of information has been created involving images of county property through flights done in 2006 and 2011.
Henze said the software includes images of buildings and properties, but also "oblique" images showing the sides and various angles of buildings.
Henze said Pictometry was first developed with emergency first responders in mind. He said a call comes into the 911 Communications Center, and building heights and other information is easily available.
Henze said municipalities and fire departments throughout Fulton County are using Pictometry "on a pretty regular basis."
He said the Fulton County Drug Task Force and county District Attorney's Office use Pictometry to identify certain properties before a drug raid. He said he works with authorities to identify exits, fences, garages and other information before police stage a bust.
"We'll create a map, take that out and pre-plan a raid," Henze said.
He said Gloversville uses Pictometry data for work involving water and sewer lines.
Fire departments use Pictometry because they want the specific locations of hydrants needed as water sources for fighting fires. Pictometry can be used when medical flights need to be made to and from certain locations.
Henze said Pictometry is used for code enforcement and assessing.
"I use it primarily if someone is applying for a building permit," said Planning Board member Ryan Fagan, also the town of Johnstown's code enforcement officer.
Fagan said he uses Pictometry for a "whole bunch of stuff," including measuring buildings and acquiring data involving setbacks and septic tanks.
He said Pictometry helps boards of assessment review on Grievance Day so they have "something to look at" regarding assessment disputes.
Henze said Pictometry can be used to analyze zoning and wetlands data.
Another Planning Board member, Christian Klueg, said he uses Pictometry "almost on a daily basis for real estate."
He said Fulton County has "one of the nicer" Pictometry programs compared to some other area counties.
"It's really, really a useful tool," Henze said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.