November 30, 2023

Kentucky From Above GIS Mapping Program Unveiled

City officials and those with agencies involved in city government can access the new geographic information system (GIS) mapping project called KyFromAbove.

KyFromAbove is a web-based application for viewing various types of aerial imagery of the state. More than 92 incorporated cities fall within the 30 Kentucky counties currently visible in the program’s viewer. Kentucky plans to add another 39 counties and their cities by the end of November. Together, the area will cover approximately one-third of the state. The program aims to map one-third of the state yearly and refresh the images every three years.

The Kentucky legislature funded the project in the 2022 budget bill with a $17 million appropriation. The state will own the imagery, but it will not be licensed. Images will be in the public domain and available to anyone. Division of Geographic Information Officer Ken Anness said local governments can use the application to design and build transportation, water, wastewater, and communications infrastructure; market the commonwealth to investors; attract tourists; improve first responders’ situation awareness; and more. “We’re getting the same quality data for Louisa as we do for Louisville.” He added that cities will find it an “easy, straightforward way to look at aerial photographs, eventually for the entire state, without having to pay anyone.”

Anness referenced a study by the state of Washington that reports $8.80 in benefits biannually for every dollar spent on aerial imagery and a $7.35 return on investment per dollar over six years.

Rick Wallace is the southeast regional manager with Lexington-based NG5 Geospatial, a partner in the KyFromAbove project. He explained that weather and other environmental factors could affect the ability to gather images for the project. “We have a short window here in November where the leaves have come down, and we can acquire data between now and the end of November,” Wallace said. He added that five aircraft are currently deployed to record images. “It's just pure excitement at this point,” Wallace said. “The fact that this is going live and everyone in Kentucky can access this, I think it’s a great day. A great GIS day.”

Images loaded in the KyFromAbove application can be viewed here.