Location, location, location — it's one of the key facets of real estate. Of course, realtors and potential homebuyers aren't the only ones relying on the right geographic data. In fact, those data sets are of key interest to several departments around Harvey County — from road and bridge to planning and zoning to emergency communications.

With mapping needs in mind, county appraiser Craig Clough — from one of the many departments utilizing that data — began talking with different vendors about aerial photography services. Such photography is the basis for much of the data relied upon in geographic information systems (GIS), with Harvey County's not being updated for a decade, leading a flyover to be put into this year's budget.

Clough also brought a vendor before the county commission on Monday to speak to the services offered and how the process would play out, with Jonathan Ballard speaking on behalf of EagleView Technologies.

As currently structured, the county is relying solely on orthogonal (top-down) images for its GIS. What EagleView Technologies offers, according to Ballard, is additional oblique images — mapping photos taken from a 40-degree angle.

In addition to being able to identify structures better through oblique imagery, Ballard noted EagleView Technologies would also provide aerial photography at a higher resolution. Using Google as a reference, with its 12-inch resolution, Ballard noted EagleView would provide nine-inch resolution in the rural areas of Harvey County and four-inch resolution over the cities in the county.

Questions were raised regarding whether changes can be mapped as part of the new aerial photography run, with Ballard confirming the system does have those capabilities — which could also be utilized by many departments. While EagleView Technologies does have specific software intended for viewing its overhead mapping, Ballard noted the imagery is fairly universally accessible.

"If it's designed to view imagery, it can view our imagery," Ballard said. "Whatever it is, I can promise you that we can ensure that both the ortho and oblique image is viewable within the software."

That includes making images available to the public through PDF copies of the aerial, while there are several other uses for the aerial mapping — from visualization of future projects to general reconnaissance to locating 911 callers quicker.

On top of those uses, Ballard stated that a disaster imagery program is part of the package with EagleView Technologies — allowing for additional flyovers (either at minimal cost or free, depending on the magnitude) to assess the situation following an incident. The software also allows users to view images from before and after the incident for comparison.

Usually, Ballard said second flights for mapping are done every three years on average in the counties where EagleView Technologies already provides its service, though he did say that is ultimately at the discretion of the county based on how much has changed. Given that aerial photography in Harvey County has not been updated in 10 years, there was a general consensus it was time.

"We've waited six years too long to do this. It should have been done years ago," said commissioner Randy Hague.

Also, given all that EagleView Technologies offers — with software that can be utilized on smart phones and being one of only three companies to offer oblique imagery — the company came highly recommended by staff.

"You get what you pay for, and with some of this stuff that's what we're looking at," Clough said.

Cost for the first flight by EagleView Technologies would be just over $75,000, with a follow-up flight locked in at the same price and Ballard noted that price could be split up over three years. No action was sought Monday, but County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber noted the contract will be reviewed and brought back before the commission for a final decision.

In other business, the county commission:

Expressed appreciation for the work being done by Captain Mark Scheffler of the Harvey County Sheriff's Office reserve program, spearheading the First Responders Holiday Helpers campaign with other area personnel to raise funds to purchase groceries for families in need over the holidays.
Learned of action taken by the planning and zoning commission to not recommend requested action in Sedgwick Township for designation of minimum maintenance roads. Swartzendruber noted the process on the requested action will continue, though, with documents to be drafted and a public hearing to be held.
Received a request for RSVPs to the SafeHope Holiday Gala coming up on Nov. 10.
Approved a letter of support to place a sign indicating mileage to Moundridge at the intersection of Highway 50 and Halstead Road.
Approved a letter of support for Health Ministries Clinic in regards to a grant application and its Federal Quality Health Center status.
Approved the indigent defense panel contract at an annual cost of $160,000.
Approved the reappointment of Jennifer Foster to the Harvey/McPherson Community Corrections advisory board, waiving second reading.
Was informed that negotiations are proceeding with the U.S. Marshals regarding federal prisoner fees. Sheriff Chad Gay noted an initial conference was held last week and the department is waiting to hear back from the Marshals on the five-year contract options it is seeking (which typically bumps up pay per prisoner), as the Marshals presented only three-year options at the initial conference.
Heard of an increased number of flu vaccinations being given out this year, according to Health Department Director Lynnette Redington.
Authorized approval of the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging contract, the interlocal agreement for senior care services between Butler, Harvey and Sedgwick counties.
Approved the feasibility of remodeling agreement for the law enforcement center, a joint effort with the city of Newton, at a total design cost not to exceed $241,000.
Discussed potential fees to be implemented by the county treasurer's office, including service fees for applications and renewals of vehicle registration. Harvey County Treasurer Becky Fields recommended against the service, a perspective with which the commissioners were in agreement. A change to driver's license fees was also brought up, with the Kansas Department of Revenue abolishing the two-tiered (in-county and out-of-county fees) system as of Jan. 1, 2018. With that shift, an increase to the in-county fee totals was discussed by the commission, but no action was taken by the commission. Commissioners requested information on fees in surrounding counties for comparison to assist in making a final decision.