Web-based GIS map.

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Adding value with technology-enhanced imaging

Adding value with technology-enhanced imaging Barr conducted a GIS-based vulnerability assessment of an aging storm sewer system to facilitate stormwater infrastructure management and resiliency.

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

Our licensed drone pilots can collect images from remote or hard-to-access sites.

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. 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.

Preparing a drone for flight.

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.

3D laser scan of piping for pipe modeling in plant expansion.

Contact us to learn more about the benefits of using technology-enhanced imaging on your next project.

Related projects

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).

Aerial imagery of Lansing property showing classification of pervious and impervious surfaces.

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 St. Louis River. The data would help support an Outdoor Heritage Fund habitat-restoration project slated to start as soon as possible.

Barr used an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to collect topographic data for a habitat restoration design.

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.


Aaron Mielke, Senior GIS/Environmental Consultant
Aaron Mielke
Senior GIS/Environmental Consultant


Gareth Becker, Senior Civil Design Technician
Gareth Becker
Senior Civil Design Technician
Contact our team


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