Project: A satellite image processing platform for high resolution forest assessment

2.1.1 Background and state-of-the-art_x000D_In the recent years the international and European forestry sector has changed dramatically in terms of economic importance and status. Due to the high involved values and the complexity of monitoring forests, responsible management bodies of governments, international organizations and the industries alike make great efforts to improve efficiency by investing in state-of-the-art information technologies. _x000D__x000D_Traditionally, monitoring and information gathering is done through expensive and time consuming field studies in combination with aerial surveys (visual, aerial imagery and or Airborne Laser Scanning-ALS/LiDAR). This is followed by digital data analysis in image processing suites and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to derive basic parameters such as area coverage, species, height, volume, health, damage, change, deforestation, etc. Subsequently the map and statistical data is used for management decisions, implementations of regulations or simply for industry operations._x000D__x000D_The range of requirements calls for more direct remote sensing capacities and technologies offering the required high level information quickly, reliable and at reduced costs._x000D__x000D_The satellite EO industry has foreseen such market opportunities and responds to these increasing demands. With 10 satellites offering ground resolutions of 50cm currently waiting for launch and 15-20 systems planned in the future, the investments and the confidentially in this constantly growing market are very high. These days, very high resolution (VHR) stereoscopic acquisitions from space offer less expensive, faster and more agile remote sensing capacities, thereby providing a complementary, single source image and ground elevation source to aerial imagery and ALS/LiDAR coverages. Importantly, satellite systems offer several advantages to aerial photography and laser scanning: no overflight permissions are needed, a much greater ground coverage capacity, and image acquisitions are automatically repeated until cloud free coverages of an area of interest are given. _x000D__x000D_Although the infrastructure (satellite) investment have been made, investment and development of exploitation technologies (i.e. processing chains) which can put the new earth observation capacities to work, are lacking behind. The consortium of SMES’s of the proposed project has identified this market opportunity for a specific market, the forestry sector, and applies for a EUROSTARS funding to develop a new software platform (FORSAT) and associated services (products) to access high-value transnational and international markets._x000D__x000D_2.1.2 Concept and objectives_x000D_The aim of proposed project is to raise the current technological level of aerial imagery in combination with airborne laser scanning for forest cover mapping applications to a standalone satellite based monitoring capacity. Specifically, to transfer the existing precise processing capabilities of airborne techniques to VHR optical, stereographic satellite data, thereby providing a single source forest information solution. The envisaged FORSAT platform will enable high resolution thematic mapping of forest areas along with canopy height, thereby allow derivation of forest volume. Based on historical data, the system will allow automatic change detection of forest / non-forest areas along with change in forest volume. The FORSAT functionalities, accuracy, capacities and applicability to specified market segments shall be tested, improved and benchmarked._x000D__x000D_We aim to test the capacity and benefits of FORSAT to European champion users in Austria, Greece, Turkey, Spain and Switzerland, by executing 6 FORSAT application case studies. This will generate the necessary facts and needed trust of other public bodies and private organizations to use VHR satellite data for many forest information needs, which do not require centimetre accuracy. Finally, the project shall develop the marketing strategies and business agreements among the Ps (and future service providers) for the sale of the FORSAT platform and the FORSAT services._x000D__x000D_In summary, the direct objectives of the proposed project FORSAT are to:_x000D_1. develop and validate a VHR satellite imagery based processing suite and dedicated application solutions products (FORSAT 3D software suite and FORSAT 3D Forest Geo-Products); _x000D_2. test user required applications with viability for future operation and prospect for wider service uptake to the European market;_x000D_3. set the business framework and promote the developed capacity to provide VHR satellite based forest assessment solutions._x000D__x000D_The results of FORSAT will provide SINGLE SOURCE, flexible forest information solutions with a very competitive price/quality ratio, allowing for new market entry in the forest sector. The project is conceived as a fully user driven project and the consortium setup ensures know how transfer between the European EO software development and service application industry.

Acronym FORSAT (Reference Number: 7358)
Duration 01/11/2012 - 30/10/2014
Project Topic The aim of proposed project is to raise the current technological level of aerial imagery in combination with airborne laser scanning for forest cover mapping applications to a standalone satellite based monitoring capacity.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The CO result of the project is the FORSAT software platform. It is a platform for the extraction of 3D geometric information and automatic change detection from HR (high resolution) and VHR (very-high resolution) imagery from satellite optical sensors._x000D__x000D_FORSAT as an optical satellite imaging and informational platform, includes two CO units._x000D__x000D_The first one is dedicated to the geometric and radiometric processing of satellite imagery and 2D/3D information extraction, that is:_x000D_• radiometric pre-processing of satellite imagery_x000D_• image and ground point measurement and sensor orientation_x000D_• quasi-epipolar image derivation for 3D stereo measurements_x000D_• Digital Surface Models (DSMs) extraction by using a precise and robust image matching approach specially designed for HR/VHR satellite imagery_x000D_• orthorectification of images _x000D_• 3D vector measurement in single image (mono-plotting) and in stereo images (stereo-plotting) modes_x000D__x000D_This unit supports most of the HR and VHR optical imagery commonly used for civil applications, for example IKONOS, GeoEye-1, WorldView-1/2, SPOT5, Pleiades-1A/1B and can be easily updated to similar images from future missions._x000D__x000D_The second unit of FORSAT is dedicated to 3D surface comparison for change detection. The unit allows the users to import Digital Surface Models (DSMs) and Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) align them using advanced 3D surface matching techniques and calculate the 3D differences and volume changes between two epochs._x000D__x000D_GeoVille was leader of the work package 5 “Testing and Evaluation” of the FORSAT project which includes the “design and deployment of the pilot applications”, “System performance testing” and the generation of the “pilot application and demonstration case studies”. These tasks were also influenced by other work packages especially the collection and definition of the user requirements and technical specifications (WP3) and the software development (WP4) especially in case of providing support and feedback from the beta testing._x000D__x000D_Based on a compiled guideline which supported the communication with interested users the design and the deployment of the six pilot applications located in the five P countries was specified._x000D__x000D_• Deforestation through fires – Cyprus_x000D_• Forest monitoring and management – Turkey_x000D_• Shrub/Tree cover mapping and change detection – Switzerland_x000D_• Forest damage caused by storms and pests – Austria_x000D_• Forest inventory – Austria_x000D_• Market opportunity – Spain_x000D__x000D_These pilot applications were generated with focus on forest related topics and input data to demonstrate the capabilities of the FORSAT software. Thus, special attention was paid to use combinations of different input data like triplets and stereo data from different satellites as well as LIDAR data for the execution of the demonstration cases, taking into account potential disadvantages of the use of data from different platforms._x000D__x000D_However, beside the input data for the FORSAT software additional data were used for the generation of the pilot application especially for change analysis.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
5 4DiXplorer AG Partner Switzerland
5 GeoImaging Ltd Coordinator Cyprus
5 Ingeniería Y Soluciones Informáticas S.L. Partner Spain
5 GeoVille GmbH Partner Austria
5 Ekinoks Surveying Software Eng. Ltd. Co. Partner Turkey