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Indra tries in Madrid and Seville space technology to detect heat islands

Indra has led in Spain the Heat Islands European project oriented to study the benefits of using Earth observation satellite imaging to study the climate in urban areas.

The project, which just concluded, has the objective of using information for the benefit of prevention and management of heat waves in cities. Besides this, it seeks to increase energy efficiency and adequate city planning to mitigate the effect of heat Islands. This phenomenon consists of heat accumulation in urban areas whose cooling process is considerably slow and thus affects living conditions and energy consumption.

The project promotes integration of different information sources, specifically, images taken by Earth observation satellites, in order to provide the necessary means for the local governments to enhance the cities’ environmental policies.
The city councils of Madrid and Seville took part in the study in the role of users, along with the local governments of nine other European cities (Athens, Bari, Brussels, Budapest, Lisbon, London, Paris and Thessaloniki).

Thermal maps of Madrid and Seville

For the study, thermal images of Madrid and Seville were taken on different dates and times. The temperature maps, created using these images, help locate heat islands and allow studying their thermal patterns.
The study showed differences up to 3 and 4 degrees between downtown and non-urban areas. It was also confirmed that heat islands retain the heat which is more obvious at night.

In addition to this, energy efficiency was also studied taken into account the thermal patterns of building roofs. For such purpose, thermograms were taken in a 6-hour span which showed the poor performance of metallic or asphalt roofs.

On the other hand, flat roofs containing gravel for isolation showed an improved thermal pattern. Furthermore, it confirmed the positive effects of green areas or the absence of traffic on the urban environment.

The study proves that Earth observation satellite images allow an easy and cost-efficient analysis of heat patterns of large urban areas in comparison with other means.

The project was developed by a consortium of European companies, institutions and universities (Indra-Spain, VITO and EUROSENSE-Belgium, NOA-ISARS and LAP-AUTH-Greece, Planatek-Italy and Edisoft-Portugal). The conclusions were presented at the end of the project in September, 2011 and in coordination with the European Space Agency (ESA/ESRIN).

Earth observation

Nowadays Earth observation systems are a key element to monitor climate change, protect the environment, forecast weather phenomena and improve the citizens’ safety.

Indra is currently involved in some of the most significant projects in Europe, for instance: the SMOS programme (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) which helps understand the planet’s water cycle or GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment & Security), intended to provide autonomy to Europe in Earth observation.

The company also undertook several porjects of this type for the Spanish Ministry of Defence and different Autonomous regions and institutions in order to support the cadastre registry, study employment of the soil, forest exploitation, hydrology, detection of wastes into the ocean , etc.

Indra is the premier Information Technology company in Spain and a leading IT multinational in Europe and Latin America. It is ranked as the second European company in its sector according to investment in R&D with nearly € 500 M during the last three years. In 2010 revenues reached € 2,557 M of which a 40% came from the international market. The company employs more than 31,000 professionals and has clients in more than 110 countries.