•  October 14, 2020

    Texas Statewide Imagery Service Harnesses New Source for High-Quality Statewide Imagery

    This article was originally published by Applied Geographics Inc. (AppGeo), a company acquired by The Sanborn Map Company Inc in September 2022.

    AppGeo Facilitates the Transition from the Google Orthoimagery to the Hexagon Content Program

    A national leader and pioneer in the adoption of statewide imagery programs, the Texas Natural Resources Information Service (TNRIS), has made the switch to the Hexagon Content Program. 

    “Our imagery as a service approach to imagery has saved us money and delivered value across the state,” said Richard Wade, Geographic Information Officer (GIO) for Texas. “With AppGeo’s support and using their Giza streaming tool, we are able to serve high-quality statewide imagery data and track usage for the benefit of all agencies and organizations that sign up.”

    What is Imagery as a Service or an Imagery Content Program?

    Texas, along with the State of Utah, has led the nation in adopting and building a statewide imagery as a service program, starting in 2015.

    An imagery content program is one where the imagery collection occurs on a fixed, predetermined schedule by the imagery provider who licenses the imagery for use by the buyer. Terms and conditions govern the distribution, access, and usage of the data. Unlike traditional custom collect imagery programs, the resolution, coverage, and frequency of refreshment are determined by the imagery provider.

    The appeal of content programs as an alternative to statewide custom collect is based largely on the lower cost and the fact that the high resolution data being offered is of the same quality as custom collect (for more on this topic see also The Imagery Content Revolution).

    Texas’ pivot to imagery as a service began in 2015, when Google began licensing its 6 inch imagery content.  As a Google Premier Partner, AppGeo helped Texas from the beginning to establish Texas’ imagery as a service program.

    Instrumental to Texas and Utah’s ongoing success with imagery content programs was AppGeo’s development of Giza. Giza WMS/WMTS streaming protocols make it easy for Texas agencies to consume imagery from the cloud. Giza delivers high-performance tile streaming, detailed usage analytics, and ease of user administration. As a management engine, Giza allows TNRIS to deploy a cost-sharing model to better facilitate organizational buy-in.

    Here is Texas’s cost sharing pricing model for statewide subscription to their licensed Hexagon imagery data:

    Why did Texas adopt the Hexagon Content Program (HxGN Content Program)?

    In 2019, Google announced the phase-out of their imagery licensing program. Having proved to itself the value of its imagery content program, but needing to respond to the end of the Google Imagery program, Texas evaluated and chose Hexagon’s HxGN Content Program as the successor to Google Imagery. 

    “With the shift to the Hexagon program, imagery across the state is more consistent because image acquisition occurs all in one year,” said Richard Wade. “We’re also getting improved quality imagery through this program, such key variables as image color balance, definition in shadows, and better horizontal accuracy due to more rigorous orthorectification and ground control.”

    Going forward, Google will continue to play a role as the primary cloud storage provider for TNRIS, acting as the data-store for all historic and newly available imagery. Additionally, Google Cloud will host LiDAR datasets for various state agencies.

    How does an Imagery as a Service Program compare with NAIP (National Agricultural Imagery Program)?

    The NAIP imagery is “leaf on” imagery collected during the growing season across the continental U.S. and made available for government and public use. The NAIP imagery is refreshed every three years. In contrast, the Texas Imagery Service offers 6-inch resolution imagery for urban areas, which allows the user to identify objects at one-sixth the size of objects in the 1-meter National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery.

    How do I find a provider of Imagery as a Service?

    Over the last few years, a competitive market for imagery content or imagery as a licensed service programs has emerged with Hexagon leading the way, offering 6 inch and 12 inch resolution imagery for states (for a more complete picture of the emerging competitive marketplace, download AppGeo’s Imagery Comparison Guide).

    How much does HxGN Content Program Imagery as a Service Cost for my State or Organization?

    Costs can be as low as $11 per square mile. Costs will vary depending upon the frequency of refresh, storage requirements, the length of the license contract, and other factors. For a quote for imagery for your state, contact Sales Representative, Conor Cousins, on the AppGeo Imagery Team: ccousins@sanborn.com.

    What Pixel Resolution(s) is now available in Texas?

    TNRIS users now have access to 15cm  (6 in) orthoimagery in urban areas, and 30cm (12 in) orthoimagery in rural areas, statewide. By the end of 2020, 6 inch imagery is anticipated to be online for the entire state.

    More Questions? Learn more about imagery content programs from the trailblazers

    Hear from the trailblazers. AppGeo presented alongside Richard Wade (leader of the Texas program) and Matt Peters (title and leader of the Utah program) about why they adopted imagery as a service programs for their states, respectively. Click here to view the “Hear from the Trailblazers!” on-demand webinar.

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