Maps, UAV Data Collection Are at the Heart of the GIS to Support Campus Planning

College, University, and even Medical Campus facilities are the ideal “pet” project or poster child of how GIS is integral in planning and managing a facility. A campus is made up of infrastructure that ranges from buildings, equipment, parking, underground assets, trees, transportation systems, security and much more. Managing a campus facility is akin to the management of a small town or City when you think about it. In order to be able to manage day to day operations and plan for future growth and development the campus needs an accurate map and database(s) of assets and infrastructure.

middle tennessee state ortho photo
Campus orthophotography, Middle Tennessee State U

The campus planner has a “new” tool at their disposal these days thanks to UAV / UAS technology. A UAV campus collection mission can be carried out relatively fast, saving precious time and money, providing the facility with a detailed picture (and database) of their lands, assets, and infrastructure. A typical UAV project can capture and develop useful, detailed, and highly accurate basemap layers that support the enterprise GIS, thus fueling decision making and planning for the future. GEO Jobe’s UAV services have completed several campus projects recently, providing schools with current and up-to-date orthophotography (orthos), Digital Terrain Models (DTM), Digital Surface Models (DSM), contour maps, and sophisticated 3D models (see video below).  The valuable orthos are then used as a base for further data collection including the capture of building footprints, road centerlines, parking spots, trees, utilities (poles, hydrants) and can serve as the base for future ortho update projects. In addition to the capture and delivery of accurate base data layers, GEO Jobe has also provided additional post analysis data products including: vegetation health maps, 3D volumes, physical asset inventories (water tower, sports field), building height data, and more ( More examples can be found here).

3D model, Meharry Medical College
3D model, Meharry Medical College

How the typical Ortho Update Project Works

Unlike the traditional one-time ortho project approach, GEO Jobe UAV services can provide a “program” for orthophoto updates. The drone based program GEO Jobe uses is designed for small areas of change. This keeps the campus GIS current without having to wait for a local government, county, utility, or other to fly and capture city/county-wide orthos every time new developments come online. Additionally, the UAV ortho update program allows GEO Jobe to provide on demand updates. Using high resolution cameras and flying at lower altitudes, orthos of unparalleled quality are created, keeping the Campus basemaps current and accurate.

building heights from surface model
Generating building heights with DSM

Campus GIS Data Project Data

When GEO Jobe UAV collects orthos for a site as part of the program, they set centimeter level ground control accurate to less than one inch. The high resolution camera collects half inch ground sample distance (GSD) which processes out to 1 inch pixel resolution. Taken together, this produces a highly dense 3D point cloud, accurate model reconstruction that is tied tightly and accurately to the ground. It also allows GEO Jobe to provide 1 ft contours as part of the site deliverables. Besides the photo, the DTM and contours, GEO Jobe also delivers a Digital Surface model (DSM).

Using the high resolution data captured via low altitude UAV areal fly over the team has been able to put together photo realistic, 3D models for very large project areas (hundreds of acres in size) and this was no exception

For more information about GEO Jobe UAV services see

Note: GEO Jobe is pleased to share that we also offer, in addition to  high resolution low altitude orthophotography services, hosting options for the ArcGIS org. via the  GeoPowered Cloud.

See Also @geojobeuav on Twitter & Instagram for regular project related updates

Did you know that campus planners are also encouraged to share their campus data with Esri’s Community Maps Program? Esri notes that there has been a rather impressive increase in the number of campuses that want to share their content with Esri’s Living Atlas of the World. The Campus program will help make your campus data widely available for others to use. Faculty, students, and facility managers will all have access to the same online basemaps, derived from and maintained with the authoritative content provided by the educational institution’s data stewards. The program will ensure featured content about your campus is easily discoverable.

Campus data stewards and planners can see more about the Esri Campus Maps Program HERE

See Also:

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From our GEOPowered Cloud to custom solutions, GEO Jobe is committed to showing clients how geospatial thinking can guide them to save time, money, and make better business decisions. The power of GIS, Simplified!

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