Remote Sensing Workshops @ Curtin University

On Wednesday the 1st of December, Tom, Andrew, Mel, Ben Z and I attended Remote Sensing workshops conducted by the Spatial Sciences department at Curtin University. Also in attendance were Chris Brown and Gabby Pracilio from CITIC Pacific Mining.

The first lecture was taken by Dr Tom Schut, who got us interested in doing such a workshop when we first heard him talk at the SSSI YP “Environmental Initiatives Through Spatial Innovation” seminar at Scitech back in May.

Tom’s workshop focused on change detection, where he introduced such concepts as indices & image classification, fuzzy classification and spectral unmixing (big words make me sound clever). This mostly considered vegetation and soil, which is precisely what we wanted – what with being an environmental technology consultancy and all!

I don’t want to get too technical, but after this, we tried our hands at several practical exercises, which particularly centred on classification techniques, where we tried to extract classes such as water, forest types, soil types, etc in an image. We also tried to figure out if pixels in an image belong statistically more to a certain class than other classes. Lastly, we calculated the change in vegetation cover by comparing different images over time.

The second lecture was taken by Dr Todd Robinson, who discussed rangeland condition. He showed us what his research over the past two years has culminated in, by explaining how previously we made assessments by driving to a spot, looking at it, and then assessing whether it is deteriorating or getting better based on previous observation. He told us how he has worked on a remote sensing solution to this, which can process large areas rapidly, repeatedly and cost effectively. He also explained that the major factor in industry/government adopting remote sensing is its reliability; it must have low rates of error.

In Todd’s workshop, we worked on computing whether vegetation areas, over time, were remaining static, declining, fluctuating or improving by using combinations of good/poor on temporal images. Then we were able to see the areas on our output maps where vegetation had changed (either positively or negatively).

It was great to catch up again with Tom and Todd. We acquired an appreciation of the remote sensing field, its technical and scientific nature, and an understanding of what/how we can use it in the business. For me personally, it brought back a lot of memories of remote sensing classes from a few years ago, a good refresher!

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