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Industries: Emergency Services
NSW State Emergency Service
Namoi Valley Flood Mapping
The Problem
From July to September 1998, a succession of frontal systems resulted in severe flooding in the Namoi Valley in North East NSW. The NSW State Emergency Services needed a reliable method of quickly assessing the extent of flooding for emergency response, future event planning, and allocating compensation to flood-effected landowners.

The Solution
Terranean’s successful application of RADARSAT in the Daly River area in the Northern Territory, and for the World Bank in China, demonstrated that RADARSAT, with its ability to operate in any weather condition, was an ideal technology to use in cloud-effected flood situations. The project area in the Namoi Valley was a complex agricultural landscape comprised of irrigated crops and varied pasture at different stages of development. The mosaic of crops produced strong contrast within the RADARSAT images in both flooded and non-flooded areas. Thus, variation within the RADARSAT images resulted because of complex interactions between floodwaters and variations in the height and density of crops, pasture, and trees. However, with a combination of RADARSAT signal intensity and interpretation of characteristic patterns of texture and other visual clues, it was possible to accurately map the floodwaters.

The extent of flooding in cloudy conditions was rapidly determined and flood boundaries were mapped. The project confirmed that RADARSAT represents a reliable means of obtaining flood images that, in most cases, can be delivered before other satellite images are available. The success of the technology highlighted that organisational preparedness is an essential requirement for the effective use of satellite imagery for emergency response. Flood mapping must be integrated into standard operating procedures of the emergency response agency. Lines of communication must be established in order to coordinate the activities of the emergency services with mapping agencies and satellite ground control. And, emergency personnel must be trained to understand and use the images and maps. TOP

Bureau of Rural Sciences
NE NSW Regional Flood Assessment
The Problem

Subsequent to the emergency response mapping project over the Namoi Valley, the Bureau of Rural Sciences needed to assess the extent of the extremely damaging floods over North East NSW.

SPOT multi-spectral images were selected for this work. The length of the period during which the floodwaters persisted, as well as the intervals of clear weather between the frontal systems, enabled the SPOT optical satellite to obtain almost complete cloud-free coverage of the flooded areas. The image above illustrates a SPOT XS image of a portion of the Barwon/ MacIntyre drainage system. The vegetation appears red due to the infrared band. The floodwaters are clearly visible as pale blue areas. In complex agricultural environments, the SPOT XS images also were more amenable to interpretation than RADARSAT. One hundred and thirty-five SPOT XS images were selected from more than 200 images, which were acquired during the period from July to September 1998. The images were selected to show, as far as possible, the peak flood levels across the area. The area mapped extends from Bourke in the West to Inverell in the east covering an area of approximately 500 x 400km or 200,000 km2, at a resolution of 100m. The floods were mapped by manual interpretation at 1:250 000 scale in less than 24 hours. The resulting flood map was provided in digital form and used by the Bureau of Rural Sciences to assess the extent of flood damage. A small section of the flood map is shown here overlaid onto scanned and mosaiced 1:250 000 topographic maps. Floodwaters are hatched in blue, non-flooded areas are hatched brown. At 1:250 000 scale the topographic base is clearly visible.


Optical Satellite Images were shown to represent a valuable and cost-effective means of producing accurate maps of flood extents for inland areas, where flood water persist during periods of clear weather. While RADARSAT is noted for its rapid acquisition and delivery, the SPOT constellation can provide similar delivery times under clear weather conditions. Images can be obtained of a particular location, usually within a day of acquisition. A point worth noting, with respect to Landsa, and to a lesser extent SPOT, is that there is an archive of images dating back to the early ‘70s, which includes many images of flood events that would be useful for determining the extent of floods of a given magnitude. Flood maps and satellite images of flooded areas are a valuable and versatile tool for emergency response and planning. The images can readily be integrated into a GIS environment and overlaid with other data such as roads, rivers, as well as important sites such as water resources, airports, ambulance and fire stations, schools, and hospitals etc. Maps can be printed at any scale for use in the field. TOP

NSW Rural Fire Service
Near Real-time Fire Mapping
The problem
With climate change and a growing and increasingly dispersed Australian population, fire is an increasing risk in our lives. In particular, fire fighters are at risk from fast-moving, erratic fires. The NSW Fire Service needed immediate information about exactly where fire fronts were, in order to maximise its ability to fight the fire and minimise the risk to life and property.

The Solution
Terranean Mapping Technologies worked with Firesearch Pty Ltd to provide near real-time fire mapping using the Firesearch airborne thermal imaging system. Terranean staff were stationed at various Rural Fire Service and National Parks and Wildlife Services offices including Nowra, Queanbeyan, and Jindabyne during the Sydney / Nowra fires, and the Canberra / Snowy Mountains fires, and were able to provide timely information about the bushfires. Thermal images were downloaded in real-time from the aircraft using a radio link. The system’s advanced positioning system and software enabled the images to be automatically ortho-rectified against a DEM.

Terranean developed software to analyse the images that identified heat sources and generated GIS layers of hotspots, fire fronts, and burnt areas, which could be readily input into the RFS GISsystem.

The Result
The project was a success and is recognised as a powerful tool for managing extreme fire situations. Data was successfully input into the Rural Fire Service GIS and could be integrated with infrastructure, weather, and topographic information. With the advent of open standards, it is now possible to distribute fire data via Open GIS standards (WMS or WFS) directly into the shared GIS systems, which now form the basis of emergency response operations.