Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE)
ACADEMIC TEAM LEADER (ATL)
Geoinformation is concerned with the collection, presentation, and analysis of geospatial data. Geospatial data is useful in the analysis of spatial phenomena. Typically, geoinformation is presented in the form of, and analysed through the use of, Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). The use of GIS has in particular made mapping technology accessible to most users who need to use information in the form of maps. Earth observation on the other hand is principally concerned with collection and analysis of spatial data through the use of remote sensing and photogrammetric technologies. GIS itself relies on mapping technology as the basis for any GIS analysis is a reliable map. One of the applications of earth observation technologies is in mapping. Thus this Department covers among its areas of interest the sub-disciplines of remote sensing, photogrammetry, cartography, and GIS. The Department is organised into two thematic areas, namely; Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and Cartography and Geoinformation Systems.
Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Photogrammetry is the science and technology of extracting three-dimensional geometric and thematic information of objects and scenes from image data. The fundamental principle used by Photogrammetry is aerial triangulation in which images from at least two different locations to points on the object are taken. The two images are mathematically intersected using geometric reconstruction and transformation models of object space from images to produce three dimensional coordinates of the points of interest. The extracted information is used for the development of spatial databases and spatial information systems in digital, graphical and image forms.
A major area of application of the technology of photogrammetry is in topographic mapping and its variations including the generation of digital elevation models and orthophotographs. At the extended level, photogrammetric technology is concerned with the study of image–based three dimensional measurements in diverse areas including mapping, engineering, architecture, heritage recording, medical applications, geology, forensic analysis, computer gaming, robotics, computer vision, autonomous driving. Moreover photogrammetry finds application in the provision of geometric and semantic object information for populating spatial databases and for creating virtual reality scenes with real-life textured models.
Remote sensing is the science and technology of capturing, processing and analysing of imagery and obtaining information of the physical characteristics of an object or area from sensors in space, in the air or on the ground. The sensors measure reflected and emitted electromagnetic and acoustic signals from objects and areas using active and passive optical, thermal and microwave instruments and sounding devices. Spatial and semantic description of objects and processes are derived from one, two or three dimensional measurements and the interpretation of their electromagnetic and acoustics signal attributes.
The scientific issues of concern in remote sensing are electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with the atmosphere and objects and understanding of the spatiotemporal patterns in images while technology issues are developments in sensors, platforms and image processing systems. Remotely sensed data is applied in synergy with in-situ measurements to provide for example the mapping of human and natural activities, assessing disasters, natural resources, temporal changes in weather, land and sea cover, security, commercial, economic, planning and humanitarian applications and for many other applications. Remote sensing has a wide area of applications in different disciplines such as geography, land surveying, engineering, hydrology, ecology, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology and geology.
Cartography and Geoinformation Systems
Cartography deals with the conception, production, dissemination and study of maps. It involves the application of both scientific and artistic elements, combining graphic talents and specialized knowledge of compilation and design principles with available techniques for product generation. Cartography is important because it helps in the visualization of spatial distributions and relationships and makes it possible to perceive patterns and processes that are often difficult to express verbally or in other forms. It continuously responds to the changing social, intellectual and technological conditions and the permeation of computers and information communication technology into all aspects of life.
Cartography has transformed from a data-poor to a data-rich field, as information can now be gathered using remote sensing and global positioning systems. Increasing computing power and storage of computers and the Internet have made it possible to share and receive massive amounts of data. Dynamic and interactive mapping concepts used to depict spatial phenomena or to present spatial information in a dynamic way is another area of study. Computer animation and virtual reality are used in dynamic visualization of spatial data and increase the vividness and interactivity to dynamic mapping. Cartography also deals with information management and creating mechanisms for shared use of geosptatial data. Scientific visualization which implies the use of maps for discovery of knowledge, is a major area of inquiry and study in use of digital media for spatial representation.
Geoinformation systems, also referred to as Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), are computer systems capable of assembling, storing, analysing, modelling and communicating of information with spatial reference. GIS also includes operating personnel and the data that go into the system. GIS use methods from spatial information science to obtain useful information from images by integrating the description and location of objects including temporal relationships between physical objects with socio-economic and other data for analysis, simulation, prediction and visualization purposes. Other areas are spatial data mining, interoperability and data integration, spatio-temporal perspectives, Internet of Things, social networks and human-computer interaction.
Organizational issues of concern in GIS are socio-economic and operational aspects such as standards, work flow development, quality control and quality assurance and policies for data sharing. Applications of GIS are numerous and in very diverse fields. It is applied in transportation planning and management, urban and infrastructure planning, land resource management, environmental monitoring, disaster management, public health, security and in analysing and understanding many other natural and anthropogenic processes and phenomena.
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