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Proceedings of Symposium on Remote Sensing and Photo Interpretation

The wealth of space and airborne imagery in Canada has
never been as great as today. Real-time, repeated, multi-
spectral and multiscale imagery may all be available for a
specific area under study. An interpreter might choose one
type of imagery only, but in fact he has the comfortable option
of using them all if required. His choice could reveal the
exact information wanted in a fraction of the time and cost of
traditional means. For example, the recent major forest fires
in Northwestern Ontario, including an area of 607,000 hectares,
were mapped from ERTS - Band 6 imagery by the Ontario Centre
for Remote Sensing. The cost incurred for imagery and the
labour of the OCRS was $518. The traditional survey, which
included sketching from airplane and ground sampling with
helicopter transport, cost $13,300 for the same area. This
cost comparison shows that fire mapping by remote sensing was
twenty-six times cheaper than by traditional means. Consequent
ly, policy makers of provincial governments should be made
aware that remote sensing techniques could replace traditional
techniques, and that new money is not necessarily needed beyond
the existing budget. In fact the financing of a remote sensing
trial may require only a fraction of the budget of an approved
program. Thus, the risk of obtaining proof of economical
benefits is minimal.
A requirement of new funds for remote sensing is antici
pated when there is no other practical way of handling a job,
such as drainage tile discoveries on farmlands, temperature
plume delineations and monitoring in lakes at power generator
outlets, determination of physical parameters for inaccessable
areas, etc.
Finally, a remark about the relationship between produc
tion, research and training in the interpretation aspect of
remote sensing. The interpretation of a variety of imagery
with spectral, scale and dimensional characteristics is a highly
visual effort that takes specific human qualities plus exper
ience to master. Therefore, interpretation, research and
training cannot be handled adequately unless they are based on
practice. The researcher must be fully aware of the real
problems to be investigated, and the teacher must be fully
conversant with the elements and local characteristics of the
subject matter. If interpretation production, research and
training are exercised in harmony, as a team effort, within a
regional centre, that centre will possess the essential
ingredients to be a successful crusader for remote sensing.