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Evaluating the Use of sUAS-Derived Imagery for Monitoring Flood Protection Infrastructure
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2019 Authors: Dietz E., Yarbrough L.D.


In the U.S. there are approximately 33,000 miles of levee. This includes 14,500 miles of levee systems associated with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs and approximately 15,000 miles from other states and federal agencies. More than 14 million people live behind levees and associated flood prevention infrastructure. Monitoring and risk assessment are an on-going process, especially during times of flood conditions. The historic events such as those in the City of New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Red River floods of 2009 and 2011, Ohio River flooding of 2018, the 2017 California Floods have profoundly impacted lives and communities. Climate change and increasing population are likely to make flooding events more frequent and costly. As new technologies emerge monitoring and risk assessment can benefit to increase community resiliency.

In this research, we investigate the use of the structure from motion photogrammetric method to monitor positional changes in invariant objects such as levees, specifically, I-walls. This method uses conventional digital images from multiple view locations and angles by either a moving aerial platform or terrestrial photography. Using parallel coded software and accompanying hardware, 3D point clouds, digital surface models, and orthophotos can be created. By providing comparisons of similar processing workflows with a variety of imaging acquisition criteria using commercially available unmanned aerial systems (UAS), we created image sets multiple times of a simulated I-wall at various flight elevations, look angles, and image density (e.g. effective overlap). The comparisons can be used for sensor selection and mission planning to improve the quality of the final product. The results can optimize current equipment capabilities with respect to client expectations and current FAA limitations.

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