6 December, 2018

Choosing which image capture method is right for the job

Making informed decisions using data captured by remote sensing technology has become easier as the available resolution, coverage and frequency advances. 

As data from remote sensing becomes cheaper and more available we are seeing functionality begin to overlap, which makes the decision about which imagery technology to use more complex.

To identify the best tool available for the job, there needs to be an understanding of the characteristics and benefits of the different remote sensing categories: satellite, aerial and drone.


Satellites orbiting the Earth are capturing more consistent and accurate imagery down to sub-metre accuracy in some cases. 

There are satellite imagery providers on one end of the spectrum who can detect centimetre changes in elevation and those that capture daily, but at low resolution for change detection.

Satellite imagery has the option of detecting various spectral bands, from ultraviolet through to thermal infrared data. This allows for different types of analysis of the Earth’s surface beyond what we can see with our eyes. 

These spectral bands capture important information around atmospheric changes such as rising water levels and crop yield, useful in the fields of insurance and agriculture, that cannot be captured using other technologies. 

Planet is a satellite imagery provider that is finding inexpensive and fast ways to deploy satellites. This is useful in various fields where the rate of change of an event is important to monitor. For example early detection of a remote bushfire in the desert and being able to track its rate of movement. Or the measurement of the direction and speed of an oil spill coming from a sunken oil tanker. It can also be used to identify and track illegal fishing vessels that are operating in marine sanctuaries. 

NGIS teamed up with CSBP to create Green Precision, which is a tool that shows how satellite imagery helps to transform infrared reflections into an accurate decision-making tool for farmers.


Aerial imagery is captured using fixed-wing aircraft that can map and detect topographic and atmospheric changes. Aerial providers can capture specific imagery at a high resolution tailored to business needs without the need to purchase any equipment.

Though it is only available in tasked areas, this high resolution imagery is particularly valuable across large scale areas of land such as mine sites as well as across urban environments or along linear assets like pipelines and poles and wires.

Nearmap is an example of an aerial imagery provider that can capture high resolution imagery up to 7cm resolution, which saves time in measuring and assessing areas.

For example, mine sites can take advantage of the availability and resolution of aerial imagery to detect changes in assets such as drill hole locations, building haul roads and crushing hubs across mine sites. This imagery also enables government regulators such as the Environmental Protection Agency to remotely monitor activity across the entire mine site. 

In cities, aerial imagery can be used to monitor changes to the built environment. For example the installation of swimming pools without approval or the addition of solar panels to a home can help with compliance and planning.



The number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has risen dramatically over the last decade, providing imagery at an extremely high resolution down to one centimetre. 

Businesses can easily purchase and deploy their own drones, which enables a faster lead time and self-service capability to capture small areas of land at will. 

Drone imagery has become a safer and more cost effective option in emergency management departments. Drones can accurately monitor vehicles and explore hazardous areas with precision, which minimises safety risk and the need to be in-field to collect measurements manually. 

By expediting time consuming activities, drone use enables emergency management departments to make decisions and find information within a small area at a moment’s notice, saving thousands of dollars and hours of time. 

How can NGIS help make the most of your data

NGIS is an integrator of imagery and other systems and can help you take it to the next level by providing the platforms and applications necessary to make the data work for you. Want to know more? Get in touch.

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