THE TOPOGRAPHIC DATA DELUGE – COLLECTING AND MAINTAINING DATA IN A 21ST CENTURY MAPPING AGENCY
- Ordnance Survey, Adanac Drive, Southampton SO16 0AS, UK
Keywords: Mobile mapping, UAVs, Oblique Imagery, Terrestrial Laser Scanning
Abstract. In the last few years, the number of sensors and data collection systems available to a mapping agency has grown considerably. In the field, in addition to total stations measuring position, angles and distances, the surveyor can choose from hand-held GPS devices, multi-lens imaging systems or laser scanners, which may be integrated with a laptop or tablet to capture topographic data directly in the field. These systems are joined by mobile mapping solutions, mounted on large or small vehicles, or sometimes even on a backpack carried by a surveyor walking around a site. Such systems allow the raw data to be collected rapidly in the field, while the interpretation of the data can be performed back in the office at a later date. In the air, large format digital cameras and airborne lidar sensors are being augmented with oblique camera systems, taking multiple views at each camera position and being used to create more realistic 3D city models. Lower down in the atmosphere, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) have suddenly become ubiquitous. Hundreds of small companies have sprung up, providing images from UAVs using ever more capable consumer cameras. It is now easy to buy a 42 megapixel camera off the shelf at the local camera shop, and Canon recently announced that they are developing a 250 megapixel sensor for the consumer market. While these sensors may not yet rival the metric cameras used by today’s photogrammetrists, the rapid developments in sensor technology could eventually lead to the commoditization of high-resolution camera systems. With data streaming in from so many sources, the main issue for a mapping agency is how to interpret, store and update the data in such a way as to enable the creation and maintenance of the end product. This might be a topographic map, ortho-image or a digital surface model today, but soon it is just as likely to be a 3D point cloud, textured 3D mesh, 3D city model, or Building Information Model (BIM) with all the data interpretation and modelling that entails. In this paper, we describe research/investigations into the developing technologies and outline the findings for a National Mapping Agency (NMA). We also look at the challenges that these new data collection systems will bring to an NMA, and suggest ways that we may work to meet these challenges and deliver the products desired by our users.