Using height layers and aerial photography to visualise developments and land use

Infoterra an EADS Astrium companyMembers of the Pan Government Agreement (PGA2) including Advantage West Midlands and other Regional Development Agencies, DEFRA, Natural England and Communities and Local Government have signed up for access to national layers of aerial photography and height layers from The Next Perspectives Consortium led by Infoterra UK Ltd.

Available to download (and for PGA licensed organisations), these layers can be used for a whole host of applications in supporting the work of the organisations. We hope this brief article exemplifies how other government departments are using the information and will provide some ideas on how to best exploit the data.

English Partnerships: development visualisation

By integrating the height layers provided under the agreement with the imagery, English Partnerships created these stunning visuals relatively quickly and cost effectively.

By overlaying the aerial photography on the height model, English Partnerships created a visual aid to development consultation in Stoke-on-Trent:

Development visualisation in Stoke-on-Trent

Using height data, English Partnerships created 3D images which allow understanding of proposed schemes and provides a more effective route for client engagement in Stoke-on-Trent:

Development visualisation in Stoke-on-Trent

Using height data, English Partnerships created 3D images which assisted development visualisation and consultation for the regeneration of Plymouth dockside:

Visualisation of Plymouth dockside regeneration

English Heritage: promotion, visualisation and interpretation

English Heritage have begun to use the layers provided for a range of applications. From support of teams in the field reviewing and understanding the historic landscape, to promoting individual sites to members of the public, their range of applications of the data is ever expanding.

By overlaying the aerial photography on the height model, English Heritage created stunning graphics to aid site promotion to the general public.

English Heritage guidebook

Here’s an example of imagery downloaded onto a PDA and used for in-field mapping:

English Heritage mapping landscape

Infoterra: mapping land-cover and likely change of land-use

For some time a range of clients have required detailed information on the changing use of our landscape. This has required accurate information on current use and a means to compare historically in order to understand change over time.

Infoterra, on behalf of a number of clients, have been working on methodologies for such work. Using the data layers available under PGA2, urban change can be mapped to help understand development effects on the environment, including flood risk, habitat and planning.

Here are some recent examples of some of the exciting developments within this field.

The example below shows how change can be mapped automatically, highlighting in this case loss of vegetated surface to road, housing, patios and other paved surfaces:

Changing use of land in urban areas over time

By integrating the results of analysis with OS mapping, information can be created that works simply and effective throughout an organisation.

Here’s an example of how data from the imagery can be merged with national mapping from the OS. In this example, land-cover information has been stored at a property level thus allowing links to strategic developments and initiatives:

Land cover information at property level

These are just three example areas of the potential use of the aerial photography and height data available through the PGA2 (and through other license routes). Depending on specific needs, there are many other applications that can benefit from this data.

For more information, contact Infoterra.

Thanks to Andy Wells at Infoterra for contributing this article and for sponsoring the Geographic Information newsletter.

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