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How are your photo reconnaissance skills?

Want a big aerial photo of Evanston? The city’s offering residents a chance to win one as it introduces a new photo collection on its website.

The city was photographed by plane last spring and the new imagery offers what officials say is an extremely high three-inch ground pixel resolution, which allows fire hydrants and other small features to be identified.

To enter the contest, check out an image of Fountain Square on the city website and guess the day and time the photo was taken.

The closest guess will win a large format glossy aerial photography map of Evanston. The contest ends on March 31. In the event of a tie, the earliest submission will win.

Current and accurate photography is an essential part of Evanston’s geographic information system, officials say it provides critical services.

For example, Evanston Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky says, firefighters have been using photos from the GIS system on laptop computers aboard fire trucks for the last six months.

"The aerial photography provides us with a unique overview of the property and exposure issues," Berkowsky said.

Dave Stoneback, superintendent of the Water & Sewer Division says the imagery helps "accurately locate the city’s water and sewer infrastructure and improves our ability to perform our work."

Jeff Murphy, Property Standards supervising inspector, said, "A typical use in Property Standards is to track the historical changes to a structure or other related property information by viewing layers with photos that represent the condition of a parcel in different calendar years."

Murphy added, "If we receive a complaint about a landscaping business parking commercial vehicles in a residential area, it could be necessary to examine the historical use of the property through aerial photos in conjunction with other historical city records."

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