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New York District engineer wins FEB award for cutting-edge technology study

The Optech Lynx Mobile Mapper M1, capable of capturing one million points of data per second, was recently used in a NY District pilot study examining ways to more cost-effectively collect data for structure inventory in flood zones.

The Optech Lynx Mobile Mapper M1, capable of capturing one million points of data per second, was recently used in a NY District pilot study examining ways to more cost-effectively collect data for structure inventory in flood zones.

Ian Pumo, an engineer in New York District's Design Branch, recently completed an investigation looking for more cost-effective ways of performing structure inventories. Together, with the Army Geospatial Center, high-tech lasers captured nearly 64,000 images of residential, commercial, and recreational properties.

Ian Pumo, an engineer in New York District's Design Branch, recently completed an investigation looking for more cost-effective ways of performing structure inventories. Together, with the Army Geospatial Center, high-tech lasers captured nearly 64,000 images of residential, commercial, and recreational properties.

Earlier this year, Ian Pumo (EN), a civil engineer in the Design Branch working with civil and coastal-storm risk-reduction projects, received the New York City Federal Executive Board’s Distinguished Government Service Award recognizing his commitment, leadership and vision in accomplishing agency mission. For his efforts, he received a glass eagle and certificate at a recognition ceremony held in Lower Manhattan during the May 2015 Public Service Recognition Week. The Federal Executive Board has 28 offices across the U.S. providing a forum for collaboration among federal agencies.

Pilot Study

The centerpiece of his work was a pilot study restructuring the inventory-collection process — documenting the number and height of structures in a given area at risk from storm flooding. The District was asked to investigate a more cost-effective way to execute structure inventories with modern technology. So he reached out to the Army Geospatial Center in Alexandria, VA, which synchronizes geospatial information requirements across the Army. (Geospatial data is information that has a position, much like you would get from a GPS.) He connected with the AGC’s Buckeye Program that collects high-resolution imagery and terrain data supporting U.S. Army military operations.

High-tech Equipment

This cutting-edge technology is known as LiDAR (light detection and ranging), a remote sensing technology using ultraviolet light to measure distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light. The equipment, an Optech Lynx Mobile Mapper M1 has two LiDAR sensors, four cameras, two GPS antennas and GPS, all tied in to real-time mapping. Mobile LiDAR is a good complement to airborne collection as it provides critical ground information that cannot be captured from the air, such as building facades and other street-level information. Used in making high resolution maps, it’s capable of gathering nearly one million points of data per second.

Data Collection

The AGC team drove a pickup mounted with the Mobile LiDAR through neighborhoods near the Passaic River in Newark, NJ, and the beach at Fire Island National Seashore on Long Island, collecting over 100 miles of data over three days, including 64,000 images of residential, commercial, and recreational properties. Currently, staff collect data by walking neighborhoods and counting structures and steps.

Investigation Findings

The central question of the study was: Can Mobile LiDAR improve structure inventories? After analyzing data, it was found that Mobile LIDAR was not more cost-effective for structure inventory analysis alone; however, it could be justified if data would be used by multiple disciplines, other District offices and/or project partners. Ian’s final report, “Mobile LiDAR for Structure Inventories,” recommends further investigation using Google Street View for inventories, testing other LiDAR collection vehicles (e.g. boats), and collecting information from larger project areas.

When he’s not working, Ian enjoys weight training, biking, swing dance and teaching others how to do most anything. He’s also interested in culture, attending events at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Recently, he relocated to Seattle, his hometown, to continue his career. Everyone at the New York District wishes him well.


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