Satellites have been used for a long time to get a variety of information about the surface of the Earth, such as tracking surface vegetation, global weather patterns, ocean currents and temperatures and several others. The high resolution of images, coupled with the decrease in costs and greater availability made it increasingly possible for the public to use satellite images more fully. Satellite Imaging Technology has led to the development of hyper-spectral and multispectral sensors that can aid in finding objects, identifying materials, and/or detecting processes.
What is Satellite Imagery?
Satellite images are “digital images of the Earth’s surface (or any other planet) compiled from spectral data collected by sensors carried in special-purpose satellites, readily available for all parts of the world from various commercial and government sources''. In simple words, satellite imagery is images of the Earth (or any other planet) that are collected by imaging satellites operated by governments and businesses around the world.
What are the top 10 Applications of Satellite Imagery & AI?
1. Satellite Imagery & AI for Urban Planning
The rapid urban growth and development have been putting increasing pressure on the environment including urban parks and green spaces. The green spaces are essential to improve the urban areas and to provide quality life to the urban population. Green spaces generally include lawns, public parks, gardens, street landscapes, forests, etc. In this regard, technologies such as satellite imagery and AI/ML can support the urban developers as well as the land managers to monitor and support decision-making for sustainable urban development in dense urban environments and prevent flooding conditions in urban areas by gathering high-resolution details of the urban area(s). Further, satellite images can provide detailed analysis for detecting major changes in the urban land cover and land use that allows frequent coverage and overlaying of different time sequences to classify environmentally safe and sustainable areas for any proposed development area(s). Thus, satellite imagery along with AI/ML can play a crucial role in ensuring sustainable urban planning & development.
2. Satellite Imagery & AI for Urban Waste Management
Management of the solid wastes in the dumpsites is a common problem all across the world. In order to adopt the shutdown process, it is necessary to perform an environmental assessment which requires the knowledge of the history of these sites. However, this kind of a study is generally hampered by the lack of past records on the waste disposal activities in such places, especially when they are very old.
However, in this regard remote sensing images can act as an important tool for identification and the study of the development of inadequate waste disposal sites. Satellite images can help in obtaining information on the progress of activities in the dumps and their surroundings, on how the waste disposal occurred, and on the end of operations and the re-vegetation process.
Further, with the support of Geographic Information System (GIS), the information from different data sources could be crossed with previous databases, thus helping obtain greater data structure for better interpretation of the available information. Thus, with the help of remote sensing images it is possible to have better interpretation of the posterior environmental assessment data.
3. Satellite Imagery & AI for Tracking Carbon Emissions
With more and more technological advancement, it is now possible to trace greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from factories, power plants and such other sources using advanced AI and ML. Further, by using the image processing algorithms to detect carbon emissions, the AI technology can make use of the satellite network to develop a comprehensive database of the activities of factories, power plants and other such sources. This can help in giving a comprehensive and collective view of emissions in order to map carbon footprint from an area.
4. Satellite Imagery & AI for Vegetation Monitoring
Beginning a construction project demands clearance of sites. Satellite imaging along with aerial images and AI can be used for field surveys - to observe and measure vegetation on the proposed construction site, as well as the vegetation in the nearby areas. Having such data in hand, helps stakeholders to make better decisions regarding: amount of vegetation clearance required, offset practices to be undertaken to compensate the vegetation loss, availability of resources in and around the proposed site, and the like.
5. Satellite Imagery & AI for Railway Engineering
Gathering accurate complete and reliable data of the field is very necessary for managing construction projects, especially one like railways. Railway construction projects include material tracking like sleepers and rails, progress monitoring, and ecological impact surveillance. Just for an instance, while digging a new tunnel, one has to make sure that it doesn't collapse. Similarly it is also possible that the ground may slowly subside.
However, in this regard satellite images can play a significant role by alerting such unwanted ground movement and in turn prevent disasters, which is definitely not possible through manual means. Further, satellite images can be used to have an overview of the rail network that can help detect and look precisely at the missing carriages. Similarly, combining with the power of AI, it can also help in the follow-up of assets by counting the number of vehicles on the premises, indicating their location, checking for missing machines etc.
6. Satellite Imagery & AI for Infrastructure Monitoring in Railways
One of the most important as well as the central element of railways is the railway tracks. Even the minutest of damage in the infrastructure may lead to disastrous consequences. Moreover, the presence of any object or material in the train's gauge could put the passengers' safety at high risk. Vegetation is one of the most important intruders on the way of the railway tracks. It is even more dangerous when the vegetation grows and enters into the train's gauge. Similarly, trees can touch or batter catenaries causing a slowdown in traffic for safety reasons. Thus, in this regard satellite images can be of great utility as it can help in monitoring and managing the vegetation.
Similarly, animals or human beings may also act as intruders of the railway tracks. In fact people even sometimes construct structures near the railway tracks, which is definitely not desirable. Hence, regular monitoring of the railway tracks and its nearby areas is very important. In this regard also satellite imagery can play an important role by providing real-time satellite observation. Further by leveraging the power of AI/ML it becomes possible to detect and alert any such obstacles as soon as they are detected.
7. Satellite Imagery & AI for Prediction & Detection of Natural Disasters
Satellite images along with GIS maps can give a whole lot of information for assessment, analysis and monitoring of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes and cyclone damage from small to large regions around the globe. It can act as an important tool and technology to monitor and manage the disasters to produce strategic planning models and to predict and control the natural disasters as they occur.
Being able to project natural disasters it becomes possible for the stakeholders to better prepare for and answer to the critical events. This is especially beneficial for sectors like railways and airways as prediction of natural disasters can help them reschedule travel, find out some substitution route, protect their assets, prepare for rescue planning and so on and so forth.
8. Satellite Imagery & AI for Railway Obstacle Detection
Obstacles on the railway almost always cause damage and accidents to the train as it is impossible to avoid them, which imposes threat to passengers’ safety. It is a priority to be able to detect them as early as possible. Obstacles may come from both natural disasters and the surroundings (as discussed above).
Additionally, railroad crossing monitoring can also be included here. Every year in France, the average number of train-car collisions is a hundred, killing thirty people and seriously injuring fifteen. Even though accidents mainly occur because of human errors, there is a true added value in early detection of an obstructed crossing. Obstacles detection would merge the vehicle detection on-going works with the railway needs.
9. Satellite Imagery & AI for Infrastructural Condition & Mapping
Satellite imaging makes it possible to evaluate different infrastructural conditions. The very high resolution of the satellite images has the potential of showing great details in the observed scene. As for example, with satellite imaging it becomes possible to observe broken railway tracks, broken/damaged roads, broken/damaged bridges, damaged catenary poles, damaged air bases, runways and such others and in turn avoid incidents before it is too late.
10. Satellite Imagery & AI for Airport Mapping
High resolution satellite images combined with AI, ML and computer vision algorithms can play a very important role in pre-planning and design of airport layout plans, navigational mapping, airport security, and aviation safety operations. 3D digital surface models and digital terrain models can be created to provide data and details for the construction of airport runways, airport terminals, airport layout design, airspace analysis, obstruction surveys, facility mapping, taxiways and the like.
Further, with remote sensing satellite image data and GIS, the airport planners and developers can acquire all the information necessary for improving the transportation planning within the airport structure. In addition to this, remote sensing satellite image data can also be helpful for identifying the environmental changes, urban development near the airport, as well as the changes in the land use patterns and the behaviors of vegetation around the airport areas.
How does viAct leverage the power of AI & Satellite Imagery to benefit the construction and other sectors?
The blog above clearly depicts how satellite imagery along with modern technologies such as AI and ML can help construction and other sectors in dealing with many of the problems faced by them. In this context viAct has leveraged the power of satellite imagery and its scenario-based AI to assist not only the construction sector, but even other sectors like railways and airways.
viAct has been striving to develop several new modules to assist the stakeholders, in general, in several matters starting from urban planning, development, & waste management to tracking carbon emissions to vegetation monitoring by taking the advantage of the power of satellite imaging technology combined with AI. It has also been developing several modules that can particularly help the railway and the airways in several aspects such as railway engineering, infrastructure monitoring, and condition mapping, and airport mapping respectively.
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