Remote sensing technology, such as LiDAR, is used to acquire information about an object without making physical contact. It’s used by surveyors and researchers to analyze both natural and manmade landscapes. But just like all technology, remote sensing comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Remote Sensing
Remote sensing has come a long way in recent years and is an impressive surveying technique with many different advantages.
Remote Sensing Technology Can Survey Large and Inaccessible Areas
Remote sensing is a fast process. Sensors used to measure light reflections from surfaces are mounted to an aircraft, drone or even a satellite. This positioning of the sensors allows them to cover a large area in a short time. By surveying from the air, remote sensors are also able to scan and create maps of inaccessible areas.
Remote Sensing Data Can Have a Wide Range of Uses
Once remote sensors have collected data, it can be used and analyzed multiple times for different applications.
For example, data might be collected by remote sensors to survey a site for construction. However, the same information could also be used to analyze and plan new roads. Or, data collected from forests to monitor the risk of wildfires could also be used to monitor biodiversity.
Point Cloud Software Analyzes Data Quickly
Remote sensing technology like LiDAR collects point cloud data, which until recently was hard to process. But now this data can be quickly and easily analyzed with point cloud software. Software such as TopoDOT can automatically extract topographic features from point cloud data in a matter of moments.
As data is analyzed in a laboratory using software, this limits the work needed in the field. Small teams can carry out surveys and analysis post-scan.
Remote Sensing Doesn’t Disturb People or the Environment
Remote sensors measure reflected light — either natural sunlight or a light pulse. This light is harmless to objects, vegetation, and people, so remote sensing does not disrupt the scanned environment. So it is perfect for surveying built-up areas as there is no need to close roads, and cities can go about business as usual.
Disadvantages of Remote Sensing
Unfortunately, nothing is without limitations, and remote sensing does have some disadvantages. While the advantages outweigh the downsides, it’s a good idea to consider the following cons of remote sensing before investing in this survey technique.
Remote Sensing Instruments Need to Be Calibrated
Before use, remote sensing instruments need to be calibrated to achieve accurate measurements. This means there’s room for human error if the instruments aren’t calibrated correctly.
High-Resolution Data from Remote Sensing Can Be Hard to Store
Remote sensing gives you the option to collect data in a range of scales and resolutions. But if you decide to collect high-resolution data, it can be difficult to store. Data from large projects can require hundreds of gigabytes of storage. There are many types of storage facilities out there including Amazon Cloud or Azures. TopoDOT customers can use TopoCLOUD to access their point cloud data and analysis it in smaller projects.