Sep 21, 2010

What is the potential of infra-red imagery and sensing as geospatial technology integrates?

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

Why don’t we see Bing City Infra-Red, Google Thermal Street View and Nokia Geotagging Spectral Smartphones? Maybe part of it has do with privacy issues, but the technology is already present, only the application is needed. However, there can be little doubt that geospatial and geomatic technology integration can tie thermal imaging sensor data to applications where we live and work.

As energy related topics weave their way through economic debates and discussions related to greater efficiency, the need to not only monitor but to do it on an ever increasing scale is rising. Computer-aided design (CAD) design software can already tie building and structural designs to energy analysis software.

Buildings and other infrastructure are not only about visual design, but functional and operational design – and that means energy analysis.There are more than a few manufacturers of digital airborne cameras that are capable of taking infrared imagery today. And, more than one company is capable of providing images of neighborhoods around the globe. This combination is powerful because these cameras could be providing thermal image analysis for individual homes. If you could subscribe to such a service, would you?

While this imagery is valuable and can provide information that is useful to residents and businesses, when we couple it to other technologies it becomes even more useful and causes innovations leading to new business approaches and models. I mentioned Smartphones at the outset because a thermal imaging smartphone would be a powerful device that crosses home and work use.

Imagine satellite infrared imagery of your home showing heat loss or energy efficiency, then couple that to the whole explosion of Smart Meters and in-home technologies that we are now beginning to see in demonstration and displays. How will you know that the technologies are really working, bill alone?

Lower maintenance? If your living environment suddenly becomes 5 degrees cooler on average, then money may be saved, but how comfortable will you be? Not that I don’t see many advantages to smart grid, only that monitoring will likely grow and I wonder how that will get done?Does anyone know if Street View uses an infrared camera? Perhaps you may have heard about the UltraCAM Xp from Microsoft?

Here is an interesting video of thermal analysis by Aerodata in France. Applanix DSS provides IR solutions as does DiMAC. Assuming all devices will be IR capable in the near future, then the concept of a complete IR solution tying these devices to software for design, energy analysis, GIS modeling and other functions would seem to be near. Usually one only hears about two major infrared applications.

The first is in agricultural and biomass related applications and the second is energy related and includes the monitoring of buildings. While aerial imagery will likely be planimetric from the top down (though products like Pictometry, Blom, Infoterra provide oblique options); the coupling of smartphones and mobile devices with IR adds an important link because it capitalizes upon the potential of 3D modeling, analysis and design that lies ahead.

Building upon IR is very powerful when we consider it against work flows like automatic extraction, modeling 3D environments and the realization of 3D GIS analysis. I think the smartphone and the work being done in smart grids may be the integral links that also tie things together.

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