Hands off last of updated aerial maps to Madison County.

HUNTSVILLE – County officials now have the most up-to-date aerial maps of Arkansas, which will, among other things, better prepare counties for future infrastructure and economic development projects, as well as provide for faster response times from local law enforcement and emergency personnel.

At a news conference Wednesday morning in Madison County, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the completion of a project initiated by the Arkansas Geographic Information Systems (GIS) earlier this year.

The project, a new digital map of the state detailing each of the 75 counties, will provide updated and important information for each county—including roads, new developments, and other infrastructure projects—through aerial images.

Following the announcement, Governor Hutchinson handed over the last set of county maps in a ceremony at the Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville. Shelby Johnson, director of the GIS Office, joined the governor as he delivered the thumb drive with the digital aerial images.

“The face of Arkansas is changing rapidly,” Governor Hutchinson said. “Counties all over the state are building new roads, widening existing highways, adding businesses, homes and developing entirely new neighborhoods. Having an up-to-date detailed map of our state is a key tool for economic development and expanding infrastructure as our state continues to grow.

“Additionally, these updated maps will greatly assist first responders in emergency situations when a speedy response by law-enforcement agencies and rescue crews can mean the difference between life and death. This is a much-needed upgrade to our system of state maps, and I applaud Shelby and his team for completing the project in such a timely and efficient manner.”

The images, taken from the air, were captured with digital orthophotography, which encodes latitude and longitude coordinates into images for use in geographic imaging.

In addition to showing roads and buildings, the images are the foundation for maps that pinpoint the location of water, power and gas lines, and administrative boundaries such as school districts or city boundaries.

“I’m proud this project came together so smoothly,” Director Johnson said. “We know our partners in local and state government needed new imagery for their mapping purposes, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It is especially rewarding for me to know this imagery will be put to work in 9-1-1 systems all over the state and save lives.”

The new mapping can now be viewed online at http://gis.arkansas.gov/. Once you’ve reached the homepage, click “Maps” then “Map Viewer.” Once the map loads, you will find a list of the different layers. Scroll to the bottom of that list to find "2017 Aerial Imagery." Simply check the box and the imagery will activate for the user to explore.