Using GPS Linked Photos to Map Flooded Locations


 With smartphones becoming more and more prevalent as an operational tool
in local government, opportunities to leverage the benefits of some of
the more advanced options available to users are increasing. One such
benefit was recently use by the City of Des Plaines, IL to assist city
staff with tracking and documenting flooded locations that occurred as a
result of a recent emergency flood event. By activating the Global
Positioning System (GPS) functionality on their smartphone cameras, the
city’s Engineering department staff was able to both take photos of the
flooded locations to show the level of impact and, at the same time,
track the location of that photo within the city. To assist with
developing a comprehensive view of where flooding occurred in the city
based on the photo locations, the city’s Geographic Information System
(GIS) staff was asked to extract the coordinates that were captured with
the photos and generate a map that could be viewed by all city

All the photos that were taken during the flood event were downloaded
from each smartphone and provided to the GIS department for analysis.
Using a photo properties analysis process, the GIS staff was able to
extract the coordinates from each photo and compile them in a list. To
ensure that the coordinates were able to be mapped natively in the
city’s GIS environment, the list was post-processed and converted from
the smartphone coordinate system to the city’s coordinate system. From
there, the list could be mapped and displayed as needed by city staff.