Technology-enhanced imaging

Communicating complex information visually maximizes the value of your data by making it easier to understand situations and outcomes. Three types of data visualization are highlighted here.

Web-based GIS

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology makes map-based data immediately accessible. Collaborative online platforms allow not only sharing and communication of geographic data, but easy interaction with it. Users ranging from corporate and industrial staff to the general public appreciate near-real-time online access to maps, spatial analyses, and other geographic visualizations. 

In particular, web maps that visually portray data obtained from other sources help viewers quickly grasp the significance of abstract numbers—for example, the relationship between flood-elevation readings and the amount of land covered by floodwaters, as seen on a map containing property boundaries, buildings, and roads.

Image analysis and drone imaging

Barr’s capabilities in remote sensing and imagery analysis cover a wide range of applications including land-cover classification, vegetation classification and monitoring, desktop wetland delineation, and change detection—and an ever-growing number of sources for high-resolution and multispectral imagery expand the possibilities. In addition, our licensed drone pilots can collect images from remote or hard-to-access sites. Applying automatic classification to images that contain data from outside the spectrum of visible light lets us see information that used to be hidden, as well as improve accuracy by reducing opportunities for human error.  

3D scanning and modeling

High-definition surveying and terrestrial lidar (also known as 3D laser scanning) are used to digitize the physical features of a site or structure—even those not typically visible from the ground or air. Barr uses state-of-the-art instruments that capture millions of data points to which colors can be applied, creating three-dimensional “point clouds” that designers, engineers, and clients can use for various purposes, such as developing highly accurate models of existing piping to facilitate retrofits and reporting the volumes of containment ponds. Perhaps the most intriguing application of these technologies is constructing 3D views of normally unseeable things like lake bottoms and contours; mine-tailings deltas that aren’t accessible by foot or by boat; and equipment that can’t be inspected due to hazards like high heat and rapid motion.

Project: Calculating stormwater fees via remote-sensing technology

The city of Lansing, Michigan asked Barr to develop a more accurate method of calculating non-residential stormwater utility fees than the rough estimates it had been using, which didn’t fairly represent the actual amounts of runoff from individual properties. Our solution was to create a landcover-classification system based on a dataset of high-resolution aerial images, which the city can analyze alongside its parcel data to determine the percentage of each property that is impervious to rainwater (i.e., covered by buildings and/or hard materials like concrete, asphalt, and rocks).

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Project: Development of a citywide GIS-based stormwater management water-quality model

As part of a pipeshed and water-quality project, Barr created a citywide, GIS-based model that provides an estimate of how well stormwater best management practices (BMPs) in the city of Minneapolis are removing total phosphorus and total suspended solids from stormwater runoff. The catch-basin-to-catch-basin, cluster-level model utilizes the city’s stormwater geometric network to describe flow patterns to approximately 500 outfalls and includes more than 1,300 BMPs, 28,000 watersheds, and 70,000 junctions.

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Project: UAS topographic data collection for habitat restoration design

The Minnesota Land Trust urgently needed to collect topographic and surrounding bathymetric data from the Interstate Island wildlife management area (WMA), located along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border in the Saint Louis River. The data would help support an Outdoor Heritage Fund habitat restoration project slated to start as soon as possible.

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