You may have never heard of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a Department of Defense combat support agency and member of the national Intelligence Community. But this agency is considered the "eyes of the nation" and uses technologies, including Light Detection and Ranging technology, or LiDar, to gather information that can be used to prepare for and respond to terrorist threats and disasters.
...in 2005, after Des Moines hosted the National Governors Association's meeting, a disk with some of the data was given to government officials in Iowa. It contained information about buildings, trees, forests and topography.
When the Des Moines River threatened Johnston this summer, Croll was out surveying a residential area to determine where water might hit.
"An intern with me said, 'Why couldn't you just use some of that LiDar data we got?'" Croll said.
"Instead of taking sandbags to 15 houses, we took them to one," he said. "It was incredibly accurate" in predicting where flooding would occur. He has since used the information for a tree inventory in the city.