On Tuesday, March 6th 2012, our team at Scantherma took to the skies on an aerial excursion that was as thrilling as it was informative. With daytime temperatures hitting 40C and an expected minimum of only 24C, the night presented us with a unique ability to capture a ‘moment’ of energy use across the city. Using state-of-the-art thermal equipment and a special night-fitted R66 helicopter provided by Jandakot-based Rotorvation, Scantherma successfully completed an aerial thermal imagery trial over Perth.
Scantherma has been working hard over the past year to develop and implement a strategy for identifying and mapping energy usage with the use of airborne systems. As the climate is one of the greatest influences on energy usage, it was imperative that the ‘moment’ our team went ahead with this project was one of either excessive heat or cold. The 40-degree day allowed for an ideal opportunity.
We set out at exactly 9pm local time, following a course over pre-determined case study areas in several suburbs: Attadale, South Perth, Burswood, Perth CBD and Fremantle. Using a combination of both still and video thermal cameras, we obtained excellent data over all areas. “As you can imagine, the collation of this information right across Perth city in just 1 and a half hours flight is invaluable and its applications are limitless,” said Mike Watson of Rotorvation. “Using the iPad GPS and street maps, Rotorvation were able to hover over precise locations, enabling Scantherma to get the data required.”
This included over 400 images (yet to be mosaiced) and almost 70 minutes of video footage, collected over a course of close to 130km which was covered in an hour and a half. “Mike Watson and Newton Pellatt from Rotorvation were fantastic,” said Amir Farhand, CEO and founder of Scantherma. “Their skills genuinely blended with ours in producing a quality dataset.”
“It has been a pleasure to be involved with this innovative company and we look forward to many more flights,” added Watson.
All data was benchmarked spatially against GPS readings. This was very important as it allowed us to place any captured imagery over existing ‘day-time’ aerial and satellite imagery for real-life, point of view comparisons.
The imagery showed dark blue areas as cooler areas, and yellow and white areas as warmer and hotter areas respectively. This mapped temperature gradient can outline energy use according to radiation dynamics. For instance, homes with air conditioners blasting away on the hot night were dark blue, or homes with poor or no insulation showed up in yellow. In contrast, static physical bodies such as roads could be easily seen since they are still emitting energy, or heat, well into the night. They are shown as very bright yellow or white areas.
“The quality of data collected, coupled with the existing remote sensing methodology which we have been working on for the past 6 months, will now allow us to move the program to other major population centres on the East Coast,” said Farhand.
The images clearly identify homes with inefficient air-conditioning, homes with missing or non-existent insulation, homes emitting excessive heat or excessive cold air, as well as inefficient building and periphery structures. The images also show commercial premises with inefficient energy ratings and structural faults, moisture leaks, and so on.
In terms of urban planning, the imagery distinguishes urban heat cells, roads, driveways, parks and recreational areas. It also has applications for environmental management, being able to identify and highlight areas with water pollution and excess drainage run-off, as well as mapping of wetlands and more.
Applications and Benefits
Combined with terrestrial thermal inspections, the aerial thermal imagery collected makes for a cost effective approach in mapping and evaluating energy leaks in areas of interest. It is perfect for councils and key decision makers concerned with energy efficiency, management and use in their local area.
The extremely engaging imagery makes it an essential tool for raising public awareness of energy use, and raises the profile of the council or organisation to showcase community initiatives. It is also extremely useful in niche targeted marketing campaigns: for instance, homes without insulation can be mapped, providing a direct marketing opportunity to insulation vendors.
“This trial confirmed the many applications of using thermal imagery from an aerial survey,” said Kieran Stack, Scantherma’s Geospatial Analyst. “We are excited to merge both our terrestrial thermal inspections with the aerial surveys from now on.”
Where to now and how does it apply to you?
We at Scantherma are happy to share our expertise. If you think your industry would benefit from it, and would like to know more about how our thermal imagery and data findings could help your business to continue to grow with the changing tides, don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange a presentation and/or workshop for your organisation.
Finally, Scantherma would like to thank FLIR, and especially Mr Steve Blott for his input advice throughout the trial. We are proud to be involved with such a supportive organisation.