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MEPA to map Malta in 3D using LiDAR tech

Malta: In a bid to accurately map Maltese Islands in 3D, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) completed 3D aerial survey using LiDAR technology. The MEPA had awarded contract for these aerial surveys and their subsequent data processing to the German company Terraimaging through an open tender procedure.

Following these surveys, MEPA will be able to generate digital terrain 3D models, which can be used for various applications such as urban and transport planning, environmental impact assessments, modelling of runoff water and monitoring of land use.

The aerial surveys were carried out as part of a EUR 4.6 million project that involves the monitoring of air, water, soil, radiation and noise and 3D terrestrial and bathymetric surveys. The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, which provides 85 per cent of the project’s funding and the Government of Malta, which is financing the balance under Operational Programme 1 – Cohesion Policy 2007-2013: Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life.

The aerial survey used LiDAR technology whereby land and building heights are scanned using laser technology. This technology is a first for Malta and allows a bird’s eye view of heights to be obtained at very high accuracy levels. Another first for Malta was the acquisition of oblique images acquired during the aerial survey. Unlike traditional aerial photography, which only gives an overhead view, oblique images are taken at an angle. This means that a feature, such as a house, or a building, can be viewed from the front, back and sides. These images were acquired with the additional aim of updating MEPA’s current digital aerial maps.

In the meantime, data on air, water, radiation and soil will also be acquired under the project, which will be completed in June 2013. Dr Elaine Sciberras, project leader for this ERDF project, noted: “The project will enable Malta to obtain valuable environmental information both for EU reporting obligations and to improve environmental policies and planning. The innovative aerial data acquired is crucial for providing a 3D spatial element to the environmental data being acquired. This will enable enhanced environmental analysis and planning.”

The ERDF project also involves the enhancement of the national monitoring programmes on air, water, radiation, soil and noise, the procurement of equipment and the training of staff.

In the coming months, Terraimaging will be processing the data obtained from the surveys. In addition, the summer months will see another 3D scan being taken – this time measuring sea depths within one nautical mile of the coastline. The resultant 3D bathymetric scan and the 3D terrain scan will then be merged to form an integrated 3D perspective for the Maltese Islands.

All data from this project will be viewable from a web portal, currently being designed, known as a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS), which will be launched towards the end of the project in June 2013.

Source: Independent Online