CSU, Chico News

Geographical Information Center Will Help Map Levees

Date: 02-14-2008

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Chuck Nelson, director
Geographical Information Center

The Geographical Information Center (GIC) at California State University, Chico has received approximately $200,000 to assist the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Delta Risk Management Strategy in providing more precise mapping information related to Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta levee projects.

“DWR recently flew aerial photographs and collected LIDAR (light detection and ranging) elevation data for the entire delta,” said Chuck Nelson, director of GIC. “Our role will be to compile this digital information into usable data sets.”

LIDAR, a technology whereby a laser beam is used to measure the distance from an airplane to the ground, emerged a few years ago as a fast and effective way to gather accurate elevation data, said Nelson. “LIDAR allows the real-time accumulation of tens of thousands of points per second. We will use the LIDAR data to develop DEM’s (digital elevation models). DEM’s are used to generate highly accurate topographical and relief maps.”
Jason Schwenkler is the project manager. Eric Fintel, will be the GIS analyst and will be doing most of the daily work on the project.

“DWR has been a strong supporter of the GIC over the years,” said Nelson. “We started out doing simple mapping tasks. However, this association has grown, so they now call on us for our GIS skills.”

The CSU, Chico Research Foundation provides general and fiscal management for the Geographical Information Center project. The non-profit foundation, incorporated in 1997 as an auxiliary to the University, manages more than 850 projects each year, many staffed by student and faculty researchers.