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Application of Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information system

(GIS) in Civil Engineering

Reshma Raskar - Phule

Faculty, Department of Civil Engineering
Sardar Patel College of Engineering
Mumbai, India
Urja Alegaonkar
Student, Department of Civil Engineering
Sardar Patel College of Engineering
Mumbai, India

Remote Sensing is the study of earths features from images taken from space using satellites, or from
nearer the earth using aircrafts. The technique of remote sensing has picked up in the past half a decade,
largely due to the availability of digital computers, improved communication systems, digital imaging
techniques and space technology. Remotely sensed data can be said to have its origin in photography,
where the information about a target area is interpreted from photographs. Geographic Information
System (GIS) that has wide applications in planning any spatially distributed projects. Fundamentally, a
GIS is a map in an electronic form, representing any type of spatial features. Additionally, properties or
attributes may be attached to the spatial features. Apart from its spatial data analysis capabilities, it
provides an interface to remotely sensed images and field surveyed data.
I. Introduction

Geoinformatics comprising Remote Sensing (RS), Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global
Positioning System (GPS) provides extremely useful tools for environmental and natural resources
management. They are widely recognized as supporting tools for the planning, monitoring, and
management of the appropriate utilization of resources at the country, regional and global levels. Major
areas covered are fundamentals of remote sensing and GIS, earth-energy interaction, atmospheric
correction, application potential in various disciplines, GIS data sources, map projection, geo-statistics,
spatial modeling, automated mapping, digital terrain model, GPS data acquisition, and integration of
GIS, remote sensing and GPS.
II. Case Study

Application of Remote Sensing and GIS techniques for exploring Construction Material
from inaccessible terrains
Case Study in Eastern Province of Sri Lanka

Increasing amount of construction work created a demand for construction materials in

the North and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka to restore the destroyed infrastructures during
the civil war. Since the area to be covered is huge and due to several security reasons, it is
not possible to locate quarries by Ground Surveying Methods. Thus, Remote Sensing can
be used to carry out the work. Feasible rocks and sand deposits for quarry operations were
located and highly suitable rock quarries and sand deposits were considered in closest
facility analysis. The results showed that the integration of Remote Sensing (RS) and
Geographic Information System (GIS) can serve as an effective tool in demarcating suitable
sites for construction material and this methodology can also be applied for projects of
similar nature.

The twenty years long civil war had resulted in impoverishment and under-development,
especially in the areas of Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Most of the
infrastructures were severely disrupted by bombs, barbed wire, blockades and land mines.
It is estimated that the 290,615 houses were destroyed during the civil war in Northern and
Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. About 58% of the total housing stock in the North and East
and around 90% of the houses belonging to the displaced population were destroyed as the
result of the war.
Due to this massive destruction, it became a challenge to rebuild those areas. The demand
for construction materials had also gone higher as a result of the major development and
construction projects. There were plenty of resources in those areas to cater to the
demands, but most of them were unknown. Hence exploration programs were carried out to
find suitable places to obtain construction materials.

Since the field access and observations were obstructed by land-mines lying beneath those
areas and the removal process would have taken many years, Remote Sensing (RS) and
Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques were used for this task.

Therefore, the main objective of this project was to use satellite images for identification of
the available rock and sand deposits for construction work and also use of GIS analysis for
demarcation of economically viable construction material occurrences in the area
considering all the factors such as construction sites, road networks and environmental

Literature Review

Data Collection Topological and Geological Maps
Field Observation and Ground data collection.

Distance to roads and construction location

Road Network
Preparation Of data layers Ongoing construction locations
Distance from sensitive places
Land Use

Figure 1:Methodology


In this study, highly exposed rocks and sand areas were accurately classified, but the
classification accuracy (1) of rocks was found greater than the sand (Table 1).Sand
deposits along the flood plain of the Mahaweli River, sandy soil, beach and lagoons were
classified as sand abandoned areas. Examples of comparison of the rock and sand
classification results with Google earth were given in Figure 2 and 3.

Figure 2: Classification for rocks(a) and Classification overlay on Google Earth (b)
Figure 3: Classification for sand (a) and Classification overlay on Google Earth (b)

The classification gave a few erroneous results; mostly the roofs thatched using Asbestos
and some flat bare lands were wrongly classified as rocks and sand respectively. Also,
where vegetation was less but scattered all over the rock top minimizing the visible area for
one pixel had excluded that area from the classification. In the classification of sand, the
major obstacle encountered was the classification of sandy soils which were not suitable for
sand mining. Locating only the possible sites for rocks and sand was not sufficient as they
may not be economically viable to put up a quarry.

Figure 4: Land suitability for Quarry sites and Sand mines.

Figure 5: Suitable Locations for Quarries and Sand mines

Finally, the network analysis was used to obtain the best quarry sites and sand mines with
least cost (distance, time) manner to reach construction sites. That is the best path in which
a particular quarry site can transport its construction material to a construction site with
minimum cost.

Figure 6: Route maps for Quarry sites and Sand mine

The highly suitable quarries indicate that area is within the favorable limit of the criteria defined
according to the study objectives. Final results after network analysis gives feasible
quarries based on the route suitability selected to reach the construction sites in a minimum time.

The case study presented in this paper shows the evidence of application of these recent advanced
techniques of satellite based remote sensing and GIS in various fields of civil engineering. These
techniques can be used as powerful tools for solving any type of civil engineering problem in its spatial
as well as non-spatial domain. Indias existing space programme ensures a continuos availability of
remote sensing data and the launching of future satellites would provide a high spatial and spectral
resolution data. Also, the recent launch of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) of India in March 2015
shows that the use of these techniques in India can go a long way in providing useful information,
especially for the civil engineering applications.

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