We are aware many visitors expect to see photos immediately on our site, but up to now, we haven’t been able to create the right set of tools to explore the collection. The sheer size and analog format of the collection present unique challenges, but strides in digital imaging technology, data storage, GIS (geographic information systems), and tools we’ve been developing have made it possible to simply enter an address and quickly find a single photo from perhaps 50 years ago….(continued below)
The majority of our collection is still stored in analog film rolls in our vault, but we are making great strides in the digitization process. Our scanning process is creating 3GB of digital image data every 2 minutes.
The photographs, however, are only half the story. To connect each roll of photos with a location, paper maps were hand-drawn by pilots during or shortly after the flight….
We’ve developed a process of scanning and georeferencing these flight maps to connect a scanned photo to a set of latitude and longitudes. Almost all of our 12,000 paper maps have been scanned, and are in the process of being geocoded.
Soon we will be beta testing a feature where visitors will search for an address, or search using map tools, and start finding their own photos, sharing with loved ones, and sharing stories.
We look forward to finally being able to bring our collection to the Internet. The scale of this poject; digitizing millions of film negatives; geo-referencing hundreds of thousands flight paths from old paper maps; and connecting it all together through the internet, is immense. Soon, visitors, researchers, librarians, and grandmothers and kids, will be able to search, find and connect with a photograph from their past.