Environmental Image Group, Inc.
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Services Methodology Equipment Aerial Photography Reports Site Map


The findings of a historical/industrial/environmental airphoto analysis can take many forms. At the lowest level of complexity is, perhaps, a simple phone call with the specific answer to a prior question from the client. Some cases may have many of these, followed up usually by a written version of the information. If the project involved fieldwork by the Photo Interpreter(s), some ground photos, or oblique aerial photos might be forwarded to the client right away.

In order to present the results more formally, a site map, or annotated aerial photo, or perspective sketch of the facility will normally be needed. Given here at the right is a simple perspective sketch of an industrial site under investigation. As much as possible, annotation numbers and names will match those already in use for the site. An oblique (or a vertical) photo can also be used to allow the reader to follow the site features discussed in the report.     
Perspective Sketch of Industrial Site

“Perspective Sketch” of an industrial site under historical airphoto analysis.

Annotated Oblique Photo

Annotated, historical, oblique airphoto, labeled and roughly dated from vertical airphotos of known date.

A more advanced form of the oblique sketch map might be a video simulation, which could be viewed as a still image like the one below or viewed as a site fly-through. This could also be one of many, played chronologically to show the growth of a site as seen on the historical aerial photos.

“Video Simulation” of a site oblique view (prepared by consultant Brian Harston). these can be viewed as still photos or a fly-through video.

Another common tool for illustrating the results of a study is the feature-tracking chart or table. This can be a very simple, binary chart (right), indicating that the feature either existed, or did not exist for each year of historical aerial photography. It might also take the form of a spreadsheet (below) in which each cell contains some description of the feature, at the time of each historical aerial photo.
Sample Feature-Tracking Chart

Simplest design “Feature Tracking Chart” for industrial components. Years of photography are the rows; site features are the columns.

Feature Spreadsheet

“Feature Tracking Table” for waste pits.

For sites which justify the effort, it is also possible to create a Site Chronology which lists brief summaries of both the ground information (from company records, EPA reports, witness interviews, lab results, etc.), and the aerial photo information. The key design feature of this particular tool, is that the ages of the information are displayed by the corresponding position in the table. That is, the summary of a ground report is positioned beside the aerial photo information from, as much as possible, the same time period.

Sample Site Chronology Report

Exhaustive “Site Chronology”:  the two left-hand columns represent information from ground reports, historical site visits, lab results, etc.;
the two  right-hand columns  contain the information, for  the corresponding time, from  historical aerials.  The full chart is 43 pages long.

Mini-Reports are also quite common. These may illustrate the answer to a narrow, specific question, or they may be the analysis results of everything discernible on the airphotos for a certain feature.

Single-Feature Tracking

Rapid “Mini Report” on a single site feature, in response to a client request during a broader study.  A Mini Report (for existing information) will typically be issued within 48 hours of the request by the client

The full version of this is the “Site Report”. In the most typical case, this will contain description of all of the visible evidence of activities and site features from one year of historical aerial coverage.

Textual part of a detailed “Site Report”; this represents the airphoto analysis findings from a single year of historical coverage, among many.

Full Version of Site Report

These are typically forwarded to the client one at a time, to make the information available to the project team as soon as possible. Finally, after all available aerial photography has been examined and reported on, the individual Site Reports may be combined into a single, chronological summary by combining the various report files and editing. Further features can be added to this, such as: an executive summary, a table of contents, a listing of all annotated features in the individual reports, etc.

Various other products can also be created after the analysis work has been done. For example, a detailed spreadsheet can be assembled, giving an overview of all features annotated in the reports. In this context, “annotated” means labeled on the illustrations and referred to in the report itself. The annotation numbers allow the reader to quickly identify which feature is being described in the report.

Historical Airphoto Summary Chart

Detailed  spreadsheet  of  “Annotated  Features”  in  the  Photo  Interpretation Report.
The 47-page table is part  of  the  Appendix  of  a larger  airphoto  history  report. This
can also be printed as a long, continuous roll (going down) for display in a discussion.

Another summary product of the work could be a “Site History Overview” containing cropped airphotos of the site, taken from each of the years of aerial photography obtained. Depending on how the files are managed and compressed, this could be printed very large (e.g., as a poster) or zoomed on extensively to compare the various states of the facility through time.

Sample Site Overview

Historical airphoto overview of all coverages for the site. Produced as
a large poster,  this is very useful during meetings and  presentations.

Most of these various formats for the results of a study have come from requests by the clients for a certain illustration tool to be used for a specific purpose. Many other formats are certainly out there to be discovered or developed. For example, a time-lapse video of perfectly matched aerials could be created to visually present the entire visual history of an industrial facility from start to finish, in two or three minutes! This could be used in a briefing, and repeatedly stopped and restarted as necessary for the discussion.

The purpose for all of these various formats for reporting results, is to more clearly make the narrow, detailed, even “tedious” findings of the Photo Interpreter(s) understandable to others. In addition, they can demonstrate the thoroughness of the effort to study and express many physical aspects of the true history of an industrial site. Of course, aerial photography can only tell you part of the story of what’s going on on the ground at some time in the past. However, if the work is done carefully and conservatively, then the aerial photo information will be very difficult to undermine or dispute. Thus, producing reliable information with integrity is the goal of this work.

©opyright 2020 Environmental Image Group. Inc.