Accurately Mapping Informal Settlements in Bengaluru, India
The informal settlements in Bengaluru, India, house roughly 16% of the city’s population and there are around 500 recognised in this area.
Currently, Bengaluru is going through a period of modernisation and urbanisation which has caused the city limits to expand. As a result, the local government must provide documents of every house, detailing accurate measurements of its structure, such as boundary lines and roof heights.
The government has plans to formally declare ownership of the settlements to the people living in them, which means a map of the whole area was needed.
The Informal Settlements Narrow Lanes and Changing Environments
A team from a reputed geospatial company appointed by government, surveyed the area and collected this data. This involved mapping the informal settlements in Bengaluru with their complex layouts. The task was challenging as they include many narrow lanes that are difficult to access. Additionally, people were going about their daily activities.
Furthermore, some parts of the settlements are in dark and cramped areas whereas others are in direct sunlight. Consequently, the team needed to find adaptable solutions and technology that could handle these difficult environments, as well as deliver on the task in hand.
The area in question is a no-fly zone, which meant that drones were not an option. However, other methods for capturing data such as static scanning wouldn’t be feasible because of the busyness of the area. The cramped streets also meant the team would struggle to use a backpack solution either.
Scanning Difficult to Access Areas with ZEB Horizon
A fast and effective way to map the informal settlements was to walk through the complex passages, and a handheld laser scanner was the most suitable option. The geospatial company chose GeoSLAM’s ZEB Horizon scanner, due to its quick method of capturing accurate data and ease of use. The lightweight solution means that only one person is required to scan an area at any one time. This is less disruptive to the surveying team, which in turn is cost effective for them and their client.
The extensive maze of restricted passages and dead ends did not affect the versatile SLAM technology. By using the ZEB Horizon, the team were able to scan 40-45 different areas of the settlements. The team captured smaller areas of the informal settlements in a single scan ranging from 25-27 minutes. The team mapped larger areas over multiple scans, sending them to the client individually.
The ZEB Horizon provided good quality data and allowed us to scan difficult to access areas accurately and efficiently.
Creating accurate point clouds for the client
The final scans were imported into GeoSLAM Draw where orthophotos were automatically created. As a result, the engineers could make accurate measurements in a timely manner. In addition, the point clouds were exported to Terra Solid, where further information was extracted for the final report.
The final data delivered on their client’s accuracy goals. They were able to smoothly extract the boundaries and roofs of every single house in the informal settlements.
GeoSLAM’s technology in use elsewhere
This is not the first time that GeoSLAM technology has been used to map informal settlements in India. The ZEB Revo was used to accurately scan the settlements of Mumbai in 2017. The resulting 3D point cloud helped to extract information about the elevations and sections of each house frontage.
Surveying buildings is difficult and accessing hard to reach areas, like dropped ceiling or raised floors, without disrupting business can be seemingly impossible. In this blog we’ll discuss how SLAM and LiDAR technology has made scanning behind dropped ceilings a simple process.
Here’s some helpful tips for the best viewing experience
If your internet connection allows, move the Point Budget slider to the maximum amount available to view all the points in the cloud.
Making the point size smaller using the Point Size slider makes the data easier to view and interpret.
In the tools section of the viewer, you can measure the distance and angles of features within the pointcloud.
Using the materials section of the viewer, you can use the Select Attributes dropdown to view by intensity, elevation and RGB (if point cloud is coloured).
Location:Peak District, UK ZEB Scanner: ZEB Horizon Scan time:27 Minutes
This data was captured as part of the Big SLAM Tour of the UK, read about it here.
Would you like to see a specific dataset that’s not on this page? Contact [email protected]
Mapping an Iconic Landmark
Boston City Hall was built in 1968, to help boost the city’s economy after years of stagnation. The building and surrounding plaza sought to modernize the city’s urban centre, reinvigorating the run-down neighbourhood of Scollay Square.
Despite the public investment project being welcomed by the people of Boston, the buildings ‘brutalist’ style of architecture created debate amongst the locals, with some suggesting you either love or hate the concrete design. In spite of the concerns from the public, the city hall has been home to the mayor of Boston and the city council for over 5 decades, and the ‘brutal’ style of architecture has become part of Boston’s rich history.
To encourage more people to use Boston City Hall and to increase accessibility, it was decided in 2017 that the City Hall would be renovated to serve a more modernized purpose. The infrastructure upgrades include better access to utilities, plants and fountains in the plaza area, with the intention of encouraging more people to visit.
The Horizon was a gamechanger…it’s just amazing in terms of the scanning distance, power of the sensor and the ability to easily capture the entire plaza.
Peter Garran and his team, from Aerial Genomics, were appointed by The City of Boston and Sasaki with the task of scanning both the interior and exterior of the City Hall, in anticipation of the renovation project. Spanning 9 floors and housing multiple individual rooms, as well as a busy plaza area, the task of mapping the building threatened to take several months to complete. Also, the City Hall is an active office that contains confidential rooms and Aerial Genomics did not want to disrupt everyday operations too much. Considering their options, the team decided the fastest and most cost-effective way of mapping the building and its surrounding area would be to use mobile LiDAR scanners.
They chose a ZEB Horizon to scan the exterior and inside the Main Hall. The ZEB Revo RT was used to map the buildings vast interior. These scanners were chosen due to their speed, accuracy and mobility. By simply walking around the building, Peter and his team captured the large layout, saving them time.
As they were scanning during the pandemic, it was key for Peter and his team to spend as little time as possible in the building and compared to other scanning methods, GeoSLAM’s scanners were able to deliver on that goal. With the ZEB Horizon, Aerial Genomics captured both the exterior and interior of the Main Hall in just 4 scans, and in less than 2 hours. This scanner was specifically chosen to scan the Main Hall due to its 100m range being able to capture the high walls. To help combat getting in the way of the City Halls’ day-to-day business, the team were given limited amounts of time in the evening to scan a multitude of rooms inside the Hall. Using the ZEB Revo RT, the team could scan the almost 1 million square feet interior, in just 4 nights, consisting of 5 hours each night.
The scans were processed using GeoSLAM Hub and merged to create one point cloud, by Aerial Genomics. The manoeuvrability, ease of use and accuracy that the ZEB scanners provided meant the data collected was ready within a week, to be created as a BIM model to send to the architects. The simple, easy to use solution meant the architects could start thinking about the redevelopment and renovation, without the need to visit the hall during a pandemic. The final BIM model, created in Autodesk Revit, is still referred to today.
Would you like to see a specific dataset that’s not on this page? Contact [email protected]
ZEB Family | Safely surveying a hazardous power station
All over the globe, countries are looking to nuclear and hydro renewables, not only to provide their electricity needs but to meet climate goals. This is resulting in the shutting down of coal-fossil power plants that no longer have a role to play in a fast-changing world.
Opened in 1962, the Athlone Power Station was the last coal-fired power station operating in Cape Town, South Africa when it stopped generating power in 2003. The iconic cooling towers, which were known by locals as “The two ladies of Athlone” and had long been a feature of the Cape Town landscape, were demolished several years later.
The efficient user-friendly GeoSLAM equipment enabled the team to safely and comprehensively survey this hazardous and complex plant.
Proper planning was essential as demolition can be potentially hazardous for the safety of personnel due to the plant’s age-structure, and onsite teams often having to operate across split levels, in total darkness. The removal of contaminated waste can be equally challenging. Cost is also a major factor and companies responsible for shutting down plant are continuously looking at ways to be cost effective while providing a reliable, fast and efficient service.
Aurecon, a global engineering, design and advisory company, won the tender from the City of Cape Town to project manage the site for the final stage of decommission. This involved surveying the plant whilst stripping, clearing and removing unused material, redundant equipment and certain historical structures. Their task also included securing all remaining structures, leaving the site in a secure state and registering servitudes for remaining bulk services. Aurecon found Athlone to be a challenging project due to accessibility issues and lack of light. Also, because of the Power Station’s historical importance, salvaging certain unique equipment had to be considered. The team needed a simple and effective solution that could accurately map the site quickly while keeping them safe in a tough environment.
Aurecon chose to work with mobile LiDAR scanners so that the historians, structural engineers and environmentalists could have the data they needed, without having to enter the potentially dangerous site. For the Athlone project, GeoSLAM’s ZEB Revo RT scanner and ZEB Pano camera were used, as well as theZEB Horizon and ZEB Cam. The building’s interior and exterior were scanned with the ZEB scanners The two data sets were merged to provide a full 3D point cloud of the entire building.
Using the Pano, the team generated photos that were incorporated inside the point cloud, so that the offsite survey team could have greater visualisation of the site to feedback commentary. The efficiency of the scanners and speed of capture meant that unlike other scanning methods, the team could repeatedly capture the site. This meant that decisions and assessments could be taken frequently, without the need for lots of people to visit the dangerous site.
In total, the whole facility was scanned in three days with data sets processed overnight, a total of eight hours. The combined datasets were available within a week, which enabled Aurecon’s modellers to commence work on the classification of components in the power station.
The final 3D point cloud representation of the interior of the power station enabled the engineering team to assess and quantify the amount of salvage and scrapped material to be removed from the site, and to plan the logistics of the removal in context with the physical shape and size of the existing building.
The accurate 3D model equipped the stakeholders with information that allowed them to safely and precisely analyse for activities such as material quantification, condition assessment and the preparation of decommissioning method statements.
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What are control points?
Control points are points within a given area that have known coordinates. They are a key tool in the geospatial industry and can be utilised in a variety of ways, including georeferencing point clouds and aligning aerial images to terrestrial data. By using control points, surveyors are able to accurately map larger areas and position overlapping surveys of an area together. They can also be used in non-geospatial industries, such as construction and mining, to show clear temporal comparisons between multiple surveys of the same area. This method of georeferencing is also referred to as adjust to control.
Previously, checkerboards and spherical targets have been used as control markers – these items are captured in surveys and can be identified for georeferencing or aligning. The main drawback with these methods is that they rely heavily on human interpretation when processing, meaning that the processed datasets may be susceptible to an increased amount of error.
When capturing handheld surveys, GeoSLAM systems are able to collect reference points. These can then be matched with known control points to reference scans and increase the level of accuracy.
What makes GeoSLAM referencing different?
More accurate: GeoSLAM scanners are used with known control points and survey grade pins, rather than more traditional moveable targets. This reduces the margin of error within point clouds.
Save time: using known survey control points means there is no need to manually position individual targets before every scan. Data capture can then be repeated regularly, faster, easier and with no concerns that reference points are captured in different places each time.
Safer: in dangerous or inaccessible areas, targets are not required to be physically positioned on pre-defined control points prior to each scan. This reduces the time exposed to hazards and unsafe areas.
Industries using control points
Easily reference point clouds and produce reports highlighting accuracy values.
Regularly monitor site operations (e.g. stockpiles) and hazards.
Compare changes over time and map progress onto predetermined CAD/BIM models.
Point clouds with endless possibilities
Once georeferenced using control points, point clouds can be optimised further using leading third party software:
Comparisons with existing CAD/BIM models
Point cloud to point cloud registration showing changes over time within a given area
CAD/BIM model creation
For more information about our third party partnerships, head to our integrations page.
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A collective term for modern tools that map and analyse the earth and most things on it, geospatial technology is making huge advances. These technologies help us to understand spaces, monitor changes and patterns in landscapes, cities and even societies. So, what is geospatial technology?
What Does Geospatial Mean?
To understand what geospatial technologies are, we must start with an understanding of the word ‘geospatial’. In simple terms, geospatial refers to location-specific data. Geospatial information relates to features on the surface of the earth and their geographic locations.
So when it comes to what geospatial means, it’s really anything relating to a location.
What is Geospatial Data?
Geospatial data is any data that has a geographic component to it. It can describe features, objects, or even events that have a specific location. Geospatial data will combine information about the location and attributes of an object. Location information can be either dynamic or static.
Such data can be collected in a variety of ways. Using remote sensing, geospatial data can be collected without close proximity to the area. For example, vast amounts of information can be gathered using unmanned aerial vehicles which makes gathering this information fast and effective.
Examples of Geospatial Data
Geospatial technologies can be used to collect data, but this information is represented in different ways depending on the technology chosen. Here are some examples of different types of geospatial data:
Point Cloud Data
Using remote sensing, laser scanners like our ZEB family collect a huge amount of tiny points within an environment. All these points together are called a point cloud. Each point has a location coordinate, and the set of points can be interpreted to create a 3D model of an area or object. Find out more in our article on point clouds.
Vectors consist of points, lines and polygons. Each point has a coordinate, and lines and polygons are formed by connecting these. These elements represent real-world features in any given environment. Each feature will have text or numerical attributes to describe them.
High-resolution satellite imagery is a type of geospatial data too. Satellites can help to view our world from a distance, showing us a much bigger picture.
When census data is linked to a geographic area, it becomes a type of geospatial data too. For example, city planners will use population data from a Census to plan where they might build new roads, schools or hospitals.
Who uses Geospatial Data?
There are a whole host of uses for geospatial data, which means a wide range of groups, companies, and people use it. Some examples of these are:
Logistics and transportation
This data can be used for analysis, modelling, simulation and more. Geographic information is vast and rich. It can be really powerful when used effectively.
So, What is Geospatial Technology?
Now that we’ve explained what geospatial means and geospatial data is, it’s time to consider how this translates into technology. Geospatial technology is used to collect and analyse geospatial data. It’s a collective term for the various modern tools and systems that help us to map the earth’s surface, understand societies and interpret spatial patterns.
Examples of Geospatial Technologies
The term ‘geospatial technology’ is broad and covers a whole host of different things. Here are some examples of commonly used geospatial technologies:
LiDAR (light detection and ranging) is a popular method of collecting spatial data using remote sensing. You can find out more about this type of laser scanning and how it works in our dedicated article: What is lidar?
A global positioning system (GPS) is a type of geospatial technology that most people have heard of and used. GPS data is collected by satellites and is used globally for navigation and geolocation. Global positioning systems have been fully operational since 1993. All modern smartphones contain GPS so you can see where you, or somebody else is on a map in near real time.
Geographic information systems (GIS) combine maps with a database of other descriptive information. Geographical information systems allow the management and analysis of location information. This type of spatial analysis has provided so much insight, it really has changed the way the world works.
A base map can be layered with other data sources to create a powerful visualization. GIS information might include things like satellite imagery, aerial photography, point cloud or vector data. Digital software brings all this information together.
As internet mapping technologies like Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth become more accessible, it’s much easier for the average person to visualize data from a geographic information system.
Why is Geospatial Technology Important?
Geospatial technology enables the collection of geospatial information, and this data collection is extremely valuable. It’s so important because it can inform us about so many different things. From improving national security to urban planning, biodiversity conservation, providing humanitarian relief and even forest fire suppression, geospatial data science has so many applications. Take a look at our detailed blog covering why geospatial information is so important for more information.
Where is Geospatial Analysis Used?
In short, geospatial analysis touches every aspect of our lives. It’s used by scientists, decision-makers, conservationists, governments, urban planners, businesses and healthcare professionals amongst many more.
Geospatial information is often used for research and development. It can be used in modelling and simulations, which can inform future decisions. It gives people the ability to create a virtual world that can be tested and simulated to measure effects, so decisions can be made more safely. Geospatial analysis enriches our understanding of the world around us and has opened up so many possibilities.
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