Earth Observation News

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Monitoring natural and urban environments

Dubai is one of the most rapidly developing cities in the world. This growth has a big impact on the natural environment, natural resources and native habitats.

Satellite Earth Observation (EO) data has long been an important source of information for measuring and monitoring impacts on the natural environment. However, producing geospatial information for large areas from EO data is time consuming and costly.

Now EO data can be analysed at much greater speed with automated processes and intelligent algorithms. Ordnance Survey and Deimos Space UK worked with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai to automate the production of geospatial information from satellite EO, to produce an interoperable data model in which to store this information. The project was supported by the UK Space Agency and BEIS, as part of the Gulf Science, Innovation and Knowledge Economy Programme.

What were the challenges?

  • Measuring and monitoring impacts on resources and the natural environment
  • Tracking the growth and health of important vegetation
  • Providing reliable data to ensure correct subsidy payments to farmers
  • Maximising data production efficiency and value from satellite EO data
  • Creating an interoperable data storage capability and strategy to align with other Dubai data initiatives

What was the solution?
The project automated the production of geospatial information, based on satellite data, which can be used by other government departments to aid planning and monitor change. Palm trees and mangroves were the focus for the project based on their cultural and economic value, their impact on the environment and the ecosystem services they provide.

Ordnance Survey and Deimos Space UK developed a prototype palm tree and mangrove feature extraction and counting algorithm using state of the art deep learning techniques and an interoperable data model to store the data and easily share it with other government departments.
Ordnance Survey also created a Spatial Data Infrastructure Strategy for MBRSC which will ensure the data they produce will meet the requirements of the wider Dubai geospatial sector and align with the latest developments in the Dubai Spatial Data Infrastructure.

What was the outcome?

  • The automatic production of geospatial information with equivalent or greater accuracy compared to current manual processes
  • Efficiency savings in data production (time and cost)
  • Provision of more frequent data updates for better measurement and monitoring
  • A platform independent, interoperable vegetation index data model
  • Greater understanding of stakeholder requirements of MBRSC data and alignment to wider Dubai initiatives such as Smart Dubai

Source Ordonance Survey