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Using Imagery to Detect Changes for Hard-to-Reach Locations

Rebecca Murray

 Imagery is a vital tool for accessing a location when it is too unsafe or remote for people to inspect it. This type of insight is useful for natural disasters, changes that can be detected around deforestation, agricultural usage, construction, vegetation encroachment, marine vessel or vehicle movement, and others. The possibilities for monitoring large-scale change remotely are almost limitless.

Imagery offers innumerable benefits for environmental projects.  Monitoring deforestation, vegetation encroachment, water levels and run-off, erosion and other conditions in the natural world can be detected using imagery and analytics.  These examples show deforestation taking place in an area in Brazil between 2004 and 2010 as well as some vegetation recovery between 2010 and 2017. 



Sensitive and critical areas can be monitored weekly or monthly to help prevent minor environmental condition from becoming catastrophic.  Mitigation can begin taking place as soon as an unhealthy trend is detected.

Another industry that can greatly benefit from satellite monitoring and regular imagery collections is large-scale construction. A project manager does not need to be on site to see if significant progress is taking place. Regular monitoring will tell him or her if satisfactory steps are being achieved. Building projects, dams, road and pipeline construction, and demolition can all be monitored remotely. This example from Dubai shows how easy detecting change from space can be.



Satellite imagery can give emergency officials a wealth of information for assessing and responding to natural disasters and can also be used to monitor the after effects of natural disasters, a crucial step in aiding short and long-term recovery efforts. The Thomas Fire that ignited last December consumed more than 273,400 acres became the largest wildfire in modern California history before it was contained in mid-January. The images below, obtained from DigitalGlobe, show the site of the Vista Del Mar Hospital that suffered catastrophic damage on December 5, 2017. The images show the site in the summer of 2017 prior to the fire, during the fire, and after the fire had left the area.



If you’re looking for imagery to monitor change remotely, Harris Geospatial provides an alternative to the time-consuming and tedious headache of going to multiple providers to compare what’s available, resolution and pricing. Harris Geospatial Solutions provides data from all the leading providers – in one, convenient place. Simply search our database using the IntelliEarth or task one of our experts at geospatialdata@l3harris.com to find the best imagery for your project.