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Local company uses lasers to map coastline of U.S.

Woolpert's offices in Beavercreek
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
Woolpert's offices in Beavercreek

Local company Woolpert received a fifty million dollar contract from the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Dayton geospatial firm will use the money to help government agencies map the entire coast of the continental United States, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

Woolpert collects the data by flying aircraft over coastal areas–the planes are equipped with lidar lasers that can see all the way down to the sea floor along the coastlines.

The data collected is then used by government agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to update its coastal maps and charts.

"It's the underlying data that the engineers and planners and experts take and use to design and build infrastructure on."

That’s Jeff Lovin, Woolpert's senior vice president. On top of that, he said rising sea levels and extreme weather in coastal areas resulting from climate change make the data they collect even more important to protect lives and economies.

"You need good, accurate data to engineer, plan and build off of to make these coastlines and cities more resilient to these storms and rising sea levels,” Lovin said.

Woolpert received two previous versions of the contract in 2017 and 2019.

Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.