The triumph of space in the Estonian construction sector
Decisions that take us further are knowledge-based, which means that the value of information cannot be underestimated. To date, the Estonian civil engineering sector has developed a hybrid solution linking satellite research with construction engineering knowledge. P.P. Eesti and AS Datel have recently started to cooperate in order to offer a novel engineering solution based on data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite to the Estonian market.
According to Aimo Kõva, Business Development Manager at AS Datel, an engineer can go back in time to 2016 based on the data processing of the images collected by the Sentinel-1 SAR IW SLC, with data frequencies as high as one image every 12 days. “Collecting a similar amount of data, for example, geodetically, using drones, LIDAR or other similar applications is not rational from the viewpoints of time or cost efficiency,” Kõva explained.
Based on practical experience, satellite surveys provide a unique knowledge background on the dynamics of the surface geometry of the object under study and the surrounding area. The scope of the surrounding area is not limited and makes it possible to define the extrema, recurrence and magnitude of the impact of an event at virtually any point on the planet.
Erko Teepere, Board Member of the company P.P. Projekt, which operates under the trademark P.P. Eesti, says that construction and excavation obviously have an impact on the surrounding buildings, structures and surfaces.
“The hybrid solution allows us to determine the most affected areas with adequate accuracy, highlight the differences from the general geometric background and give an overview of the recurrence of processes, attenuation, extrema and all of the collected information can be clearly defined on a timeline and compared with the dated stages of any process,” added Teepere.
According to Richard Viies, Head of the Construction Audit division of P.P. Projekt, the combining of satellite research enables users to obtain preliminary information at a reasonable cost when planning a project by analysing the surface geometry, the effect of seasons, surrounding constructions and demolitions. This is possible because all of the satellite data are accompanied by considerably precise temporal details.
The hybrid solution also enables:
real estate owners to assess future risks and costs; the public sector to make far-reaching regional decisions; users to analyse the effect of construction stages from water control and excavation to a finished building or structure; users to utilise operative and general information which allows them to adjust the construction technology in real time, because the data can be used to make assessments at each construction stage; users to link occurred damage to processes that have taken place in the surrounding area.
Some practical examples are the following:
• before the construction of a building, that is, before the beginning of water control and excavation works, a reference model of the surrounding area can be established, which makes it possible to assess in detail the scope and effect of the construction on the surrounding area at each construction stage. One further practical application is to use the satellite data to analyse the previous states of and changes in the area’s surface dynamics;
• when carrying out construction in a densely developed area, it is important to assess the risks that are related to the effect of finished or ongoing projects on the surrounding area because previous constructions may have triggered surface processes that can be amplified with each subsequent project;
• the satellite data create an illustrative context when assessing constructive damage of buildings and structures or planning corrective measures, because the satellite research enables users to compare the area’s processes and consider how the changes in the surface progress, recur or attenuate.
In summary, satellite research has given construction engineers access to a dynamic information flow that is irrefutable, can be used operatively and does not depend on time, allowing them to design and carry out processes and analyse events. Datel has cooperated with the European Space Agency regarding the analysis of satellite data for over five years and plans to actively introduce the novel hybrid solution to its foreign partners.
Based on preliminary contacts, it seems that foreign markets have a vast interest in a new science-based solution.