Night mapping system can track light pollution

06/02/2014
Highways Reporters

A night mapping system that can be used as a tool for managing street lighting operations and maintenance is set to be trialled by aerial survey specialist Bluesky.

Combining a specially adapted camera with Bluesky’s LiDAR and thermal imaging sensors it is hoped the trials will produce essential data to help combat light pollution, energy wastage and help manage urban habitats. The resulting map accurate images can also be used as a resource to tackle energy inefficiency. The system has been developed in partnership with the University of Leicester following a Bluesky funded research project.

“Light pollution impacts all of us in many ways,” commented James Eddy Bluesky’s technical director and industrial associate at the University of Leicester. “By integrating a camera, specially adapted to cope with the challenges of night time surveying, within our aerial mapping system we can ensure high levels of positional accuracy for the night time images. Co-capturing detailed 3D measurements and thermal images will provide additional intelligence relating night time light levels to heat loss and height.”

The Night Mapper system from Bluesky includes a camera specially adapted to cope with the low light levels and temperatures associated with night-time aerial surveys. The integrated system also includes Bluesky’s LiDAR (Light Imaging Detection and Ranging) system which uses aircraft mounted lasers to accurately determine the distance between the sensor and the ground or other targets such as buildings and vegetation as well as a thermal infra-red imaging system.

The map accurate night time images produced by the new system will be suitable for use in a desktop mapping tool or geographical information system (GIS). Using advanced spatial queries and mapping techniques the Bluesky Night Mapper data can be used by local authorities to provide an assessment of light pollution. This will provide intelligence to help to reduce unnecessary illumination and focus lighting infrastructure where it is needed most.

The night-time images can also be used as an aid for street lighting inventories and condition assessments; with 7.4million road lights in the UK, identifying those requiring replacement could lead to substantial savings. Additional applications of the night-time survey images are also expected to include measurement of illumination for energy consumption evaluations and additional intelligence to support innovative projects to ‘dim’ or even switch off selected street lights in an effort to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
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