Last week, in the early hours of the morning, a crew methodically swept over New York City in a laser-equipped Shrike Commander aircraft. They were busy creating the most accurate, detailed 3D map of the city to date.
The plane scanned the city - its buildings and streets, parks and early-morning pedestrians - with Lidar technology (presumably no traffic tickets were written.) The map, which will cost the city some $US450,000 to make, will be used to pinpoint areas prone to flooding and to determine if the city's rooftops are suitable for the installation of solar panels.
The New York Times mentions that city officials are considering it a 21st Century upgrade of The Panorama, the massive architectural model of the city that Robert Moses created in 1964.
A pretty awesome thing to begin with, made all the more awesome by the power of lasers. [NYTimes]