Earthquakes & Cars
Earthquakes in the Mid-West? Yes!
The USGS has created a map of earthquake potential, and in a new twist, this updated map displays sections of North America likely to experience earthquakes due to human influence. This increased likelihood of earthquake is attributed to increase of new oil production, namely horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Self Driving Car technology:
While the prospect of self-driving cars sounds daunting, the technology that goes into them is rapidly evolving. Ford Motor Company recently released video of it's Project Nightonomy. The article and video clip discuss a specially outfitted Ford Focus that is capable of navigating in extremely low light situations. What does this have to do with mapping in Santa Cruz County? Here's the answer! The specially equipped Focus uses LiDAR technology to find it's way around in the dark. LiDAR stands for Light Detecting And Ranging & uses lasers coupled with special sensors.
This same LiDAR technology was used here in Santa Cruz County to gather elevation data. The big difference is that the LiDAR we employed was mounted on an airplane that flew across the county with special sensors that detect the laser impulse returned to the aircraft. This creates an enormous amount of data for our small county. When finished, we performed some advanced processing that let's us strip away layers of the data, eventually leaving us with a DEM or Digital Elevation Model. A DEM has many uses and allows us to refine our data into a more accurate product.