Remote Sensing Technologies Enable Us to Explore the World

USGS (the science agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior) describes remote sensing as “the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation at a distance”. Remote sensing allows us to survey large areas in short time, and to draw clear picture of our environment. There are plenty of different technologies used in mapping the world, and in this article, we will introduce just a few of them. You will also see examples how different remote sensing data is utilized in an online platform GISGRO.

Echosounders reveal the secrets of underwater world

Echosounders have been utilized in marine surveys for decades. The development of multibeam sonar scanners upgraded the utilization opportunities from seafloor mapping to more detailed structural surveys. Now sonars are involved in several industries ranging from environmental science to underwater engineering (see examples of the applications in our previous article The applications of multibeam sonar scanning).

In GISGRO’s example presented in the image below, multibeam sonar data is gathered from underwater parts of a port’s quay. It visualizes the current condition of the quay structures, as well as the shape of the surrounding seabed. The port can use the information for asset maintenance planning and to verify the safe clearance depth of the seaway.

depth visualization in GISGRO

Laser scanner is land surveyors’ favorite tool

In mapping wide areas or modeling existing structures on land, laser scanners are used due to their ability to gather large point cloud data files quickly (and if attached to drones, the field work is even quicker). Laser scanning is also very accurate method in measuring objects in high detail. On possibly dangerous locations, the survey can be performed from a safe distance. Laser scanner data can be combined with color information to gain a realistic 3D model of the object.

In our example picture above, the laser data (grey areas) from the quay structures is gathered simultaneously with the sonar data, using a laser scanner mounted on the survey vessel. The resulting point clouds are then combined in the post-processing phase. Professional survey work ensures the accuracy of both datasets, so they align seamlessly to form a complete picture of the quay, as you can see.

Drones are revolutionizing the survey world

In the last few years, we have been used to drones buzzing above the construction sites, agricultural areas or sports events, for example. In the survey industry drones are used in land surveys, photogrammetry, 3D mapping, topographic surveying, just to name a few of the application opportunities.

Drone data is often in point cloud format, but it can easily be modeled into 3D solids or orthophotos to reduce the file size. In the example picture below the photogrammetry data has been used to do 3D models of the storage facilities. Georeferenced 3D model acts as a starting point of a digital twin of the port, ensuring the information about the area and the assets are up-to-date and easily available for the port’s maintenance and operation purposes.

3D asset management

If you would like to test the visualization with your own 3D data, just start a demo to get to know the platform. You can also book a short online tour with our specialist, to learn more about new utilization possibilities of remote sensing data.

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Ville Mäkeläinen


+358 44 513 2222

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