Project employs tree map data to predict infrastructure damage

Researchers at the University of Lancaster are using 3D data from aerial mapping specialist Bluesky to develop a tree failure risk model that could benefit tree and utility managers in the field.

Image: Bluesky
Image: Bluesky

The project, "Delivering Resilient Power, Road and Rail Networks by Translating a Tree Failure Risk Model for Multi-Sector Applications", is being led by Lancaster University with funding from NERC and Scottish Power.

Bluesky's UK National Tree Map is providing laser-mapped 3D height models, Colour Infrared (CIR) and soil data, which will be used to help identify individual trees and their proximity to electricity, road and rail infrastructure, as well as help to make more detailed assessment of their location, health and other features that may cause failure.

Lancaster Environment Centre senior lecturer Dr Alan Blackburn said: "The aim of the project is to develop a scientifically based, robust and objective method to predict tree failure in severe weather conditions.

"Using the Bluesky data, we will refine our existing model with better identification and location of individual trees and groups of trees. The data will also help us identify trees that may be in poor health or have other features that may contribute to failure, and therefore better inform preemptive measures."

The centre is working with Bluesky to create a web-based GIS application based on the prediction model, that will be available users across a range of sectors and applications "in an intuitive and interactive map format", he added.

Bluesky technical director James Eddy said: "By improving the initial representation of tree characteristics and context with our National Tree Map data, LiDAR height models and NDVI classification, it is hoped it will be possible to simulate individual tree failures and their impact on infrastructure networks."

Other stakeholders in the project include UK Power Networks, Scottish Power, Transport Scotland, Scottish Water, Atkins Global, ADAS and the British Geological Survey (BGS).


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