Recovery Money Keeps Md. Company Flying - Southern Maryland Headline News

Recovery Money Keeps Md. Company Flying


By DAVID M. JOHNSON

More than $4.5 billion in recovery funds were funneled to Maryland businesses or schools, directly creating 4,464 jobs, according to the state's recovery web site. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded large projects, like a $300 million grant awarded to SAIC-Frederick for cancer research, but also smaller ones. This is the second in a series of articles highlighting ARRA projects and lesser-known Maryland businesses who won the loans, grants or contracts to complete them.

BOWIE (Nov. 1, 2009) - Photo Science is a digital mapping company in Bowie but its work takes place across the country. In July, the company won a contract to help update the Great Lakes nautical charts by mapping the American shoreline.

Some U.S. coasts have not been mapped for 100 years, posing a potential safety risk for boaters, according to company vice president Kurt Allen.

Photo Science's $317,539 contract for this project is only part of the more than $2 million in recovery act money awarded the company for future projects.

Years of storms alter the depth, or shape, of lakes and new man-made jetties make old maps inaccurate, Allen said. Photo Science is responsible for mapping four of the five Great Lakes or approximately 1,291 miles of the American shore.

To save time and money, the project will use existing imagery collected for the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year. Lake Michigan was excluded from the earlier survey and will be mapped later. "The primary safety and navigation concern is for ocean liners and commercial traffic," Allen said.

The new charts will allow navigators to locate their position using landmarks. Modern structures, like cell towers and church steeples, are the kinds of landmarks that could help mariners pinpoint their position if electronic navigation systems fail.

Mike Aslaksen is the chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Remote Sensing Division. Each year, the division is responsible for re-mapping 10 percent of the nation's shorelines. Just 3 or 4 percent, on average, actually are completed per year because of funding shortages. Without ARRA funds, the Great Lakes project would be greatly reduced.

"We could have afforded it in a new fiscal year, if that was the only thing we were going to do," Aslaksen said of the Great Lakes project. "With (ARRA) money, we will have doubled our production this year."

Using a plane and a million-dollar metric camera to collect data, Photo Science's part of the project should be completed by next summer.

"The camera uses inertial measurement navigation to determine exactly where you are at the point of exposure," Allen said. "We can utilize some work that had already been completed, imagery ... to get the work done at a much lower cost."

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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