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Lidar Elevation Mapping Requested for FEMA

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2007
A National Research Council report requested by Congress says that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must have updated, high-resolution maps of the nation’s floodplains to help determine high-risk areas where residents should be required to have flood insurance. FEMA has been working with state and local governments to modernize the mapping system and to increase the accuracy requirements.

The council indicated that most of the elevation data currently available is more than 35 years old and that little of it provides information in three dimensions. It has called for a new mapping program — Elevation for the Nation — which would use light detection and ranging (lidar) to measure surface elevation. The recommendations, which emphasize that the data collected could have wider applications than just for flood insurance evaluation, will be considered by Congress.


GLOSSARY
lidar
An acronym of light detection and ranging, describing systems that use a light beam in place of conventional microwave beams for atmospheric monitoring, tracking and detection functions. Ladar, an acronym of laser detection and ranging, uses laser light for detection of speed, altitude, direction and range; it is often called laser radar.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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