About our aerial photography
If you use any of our mapping applications, you may have seen the high-quality aerial photography that we have for all of Volusia County. PALMS, MapIt and the Map Kiosk have all been updated to include new images taken in January and February of 2015 through a partnership between the Florida Departments of Revenue and Transportation. These full-color photos have a resolution fine enough that each pixel (the little squares that you see when you zoom in too much) is one square foot of the land's surface.
One of the reasons this imagery exists is to facilitate local land management, planning, and engineering projects. If you have an interest in this, we are providing tools for downloading and using this imagery on your PC.
What you'll need
Before you download aerial photography, it's important to know what you'll be getting. You may need some additional software on your computer in order to view and use the imagery. Here is a brief overview of what you'll need to be prepared for:
The ability to uncompress a "zipped" folder
You may use something like PKZip, WinZip, or 7-zip for this. If you have Microsoft Windows 7 or above, you may already be able to open zipped folders just by double-clicking on the icon.The ability to view images stored in the MrSid format.
These images have been super-compressed using special technology that shrinks the file to about 5% of its normal size, but without losing image quality. However, you will need some software that will view images in this format. You have a couple of choices:
For a small, lightweight tool that will view MrSid images and give you some basic zooming, panning, and measuring tools, we recommend the MrSid GeoViewer, from LizardTech (the people who invented the MrSid format). Tell me more...
If you need a more robust piece of software to do serious analysis, or if you need to overlay your aerials with other geographic information, you can download Esri's free ArcGIS Explorer Desktop. This is more of a fully functional piece of GIS software; and if you have the time to explore and learn how to use it, this software will let you integrate all kinds of data from a variety of sources. Tell me more.
For small-area studies
The way this imagery is stored is not one big picture of all of Volusia County. Instead, the pictures are stored as a series of "tiles." Basically, we've cut the County into a series of little squares, each one square mile, which you can see on the map below. If all you need is one or two square miles, you're welcome to download them from our website. (You can download as many as you want, but that would get boring quickly, and there's an easier way to download large areas, which we'll explain in the next sedtion.)View larger map
What to do
Use the +/- buttons on the map to zoom in and out; click on the map and drag it to pan sideways. Find the area you want a photo for. You may also use the search box in the upper right to look for an address.
Click in a square on the map. A popup will appear with a download link. Use that link to download the zipped folder containing your image.
The grey bar at the top of the popup may tell you that you've selected multiple tiles. (It will say something like "1 of 4.") You can use the right and left pointing arrows at the other end of the grey bar to go to tiles 2, 3, 4, etc, and download those images as well.
For larger areas
If you need to download photos for a larger area, or for areas that cross into other counties, or if you need to download historical imagery, your best option is to download from the Florida Department of Transportation's A+Plus site. You will be given the option of downloading images for the entire State of Florida, for an entire county, or for an "Area of Interest" that you will be asked to draw on a map.
What to do
If you do not already have one, create an account on the A+Plus site. You will not be able to download photos until you've signed in.
Next, you will choose which images you want to download. If you select Statewide or Countywide, there will be no downloading; instead, you will choose whether you want to be mailed a DVD, or if you want to download the images from the State's FTP site. Alternatively, you may draw a box outlining your area of interest. If the area is big enough, you will given the same DVD-or-FTP option. However, if the area is below that threshold, you will be given an opportunity to download the images.
Downloading will give you the same zipped folder containing MrSid images you would download from our website, but the folder will contain all the images you selected, and not just a single square-mile photo.
If you don't already have any software that will open MrSid images, you can download the free MrSid GeoViewer from LizardTech. Once installed, you will be able to open the MrSid images by going into the File menu and selecting Add Layer -> Local Layer. You can open multiple, neighboring MrSid images at the same time and have them appear as if they were "stitched together" to make one large photo.
Another alternative for opening MrSid images is the ArcGIS Explorer Desktop software from Esri. This is the free version of the industry-leading Geographic Information software. While its functionality has been limited by its nature as free software; it is still a powerful analytic tool with more capabilities than a simple image viewer.
To add a MrSid image to ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, click the icon for Add content and select Raster Data, then simply pick the MrSid image you downloaded.
Note that the Add Content tool shows a wide variety of data you can add to ArcGIS Explorer Desktop. Volusia County makes a wide variety of its GIS data available as "GIS Services." If you choose this option from the Add Content tool, you will be asked to create a New Server Connection. Select ArcGIS Server as the server type, and enter http://maps1.vcgov.org/arcgis/rest/services as the Server Name. You will be given a list of "services" that can be added to the map. The Basemap service will give you City Boundaries, streets, and other basic mapping information. the Aerials service will show you a list of all the aerial photography available from Volusia County.
You will need to zoom in to a scale of 1:16000 before they will draw due to size constraints, but it provides the user the ability to view aerials from a number of years and without having to worry about individual images.