Who says kite flying is a summer pastime?
With temperatures in the mid-20s, a grassroots group of Butte volunteers recently launched a homemade kite from atop the Phoenix Building in Uptown Butte.
With a point-and-shoot camera attached to the high flier, they snapped thousands of photographs of the Uptown area as part of a mapping project that began this summer.
Portland resident Mathew Lippincott of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, or PLOTS, introduced the mapping tools and methodology to a Butte group that continues with the research.
Lippincott builds his kites and balloons and encourages others to do the same.
He worked with locals like Olivia Everett to form a Butte group that uses low-cost equipment to gather its own images.
Lippincott, 28, worked this summer to assist with community research and development in Centerville, where a mapping project
continues. Mapping the Uptown area also is ongoing, he said.
Kite and balloon mapping is an inexpensive tool that could help residents and local governments gather data for multiple uses, he said.
In Centerville, for instance, the mapping project will document new development and has been useful in updating aerial photographs that don’t reflect the latest Superfund cleanup in the neighborhood.
Routinely updated aerial photographs may be used to identify debris sites, or areas of the city for potential in-fill development, and keep residents apprised to their changing environment, Lippincott said.
The last aerial photographs of Butte were taken in 2004, but kite mapping has been used to update some of that data.
Everett sees the project as an opportunity to empower Butte residents to gather data and plan for the city’s future, and encouraged others to join the effort.
“The tools themselves are only useful if the community finds itself wanting to access them,” she said.