GISSA Gauteng discusses drones and data generation

June 29th, 2015, Published in Articles: PositionIT


The Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA) Gauteng branch met at the Department for Environmental Affairs’ new green building, Environment House, in Pretoria on 12 June 2015. The day comprised eight presentations and an address from the GISSA National chairman, Morena Letsosa. The morning session centred on RPAS presentations, while the afternoon presentations dealt with data sets and data processing.

In his address, Letsosa focused on the role of young geomaticians and called on members to become mentors for younger colleagues. He advised that GISSA will establish a forum of three to five young geomaticians on national level to harness new ideas. Letsosa also announced that the transformation portfolio will be done away with, and transformation will become a function of all the other portfolios.

GISSA GP June 2015 (1)

Michael Breetzke, Sonet Kock, Helgardt van Heerden and Chris Clarke.

Opening a series of RPAS-related presentations, AviComply’s Sonet Kock gave a practical overview of the new RPAS regulations which came into effective on 1 July 2015. She discussed the RPAS concepts outlined in the regulations, and explained that RPAS operators share national airspace, and face the same responsibilities and liabilities as other pilots. For this reason third party insurance will be necessary, and will require operators to be registered. Flying illegally is not only a business risk she said, but a liability in general. She also said that RPAS have the lowest priority ranking in the air, and all other craft have right of way before it.

Helgardt van Heerden from Aciel Geomatics, a RPAS reseller, echoed the points raised by Kock. He also discussed RPAS buyer considerations, such as area of coverage, flight time, type of sensors to be used, safety features, take-off space required, and most importantly, the final deliverables required/produced. Chris Clarke, from commercial UAV service provider RocketMine, further emphasised the importance of high quality data above a hardware-only focus.

Swift Geospatial’s Michael Breetzke considered the role of RPAS in GIS, and said the biggest benefit is timely, rich and problem specific (3D) data. It also makes data more accessible and cheaper, which he anticipates will result in increased data volumes, and so form part of a shift towards big data collection and processing. RPAS also fits well with GIS, as GIS structure data and can handle this type of data very well.

GISSA GP June 2015 (2)

S’lindi Mhlongo, Joleen Knock and Marlanie Moodley.

In the afternoon session, masters student Joleen Knock showed members how workflow and procedural changes can help correct processing deficiencies, also saving costs of new hardware and software. Process deficiencies influence data accuracy such as time frames. In her case study, Knock looked at the gap that existed between Eskom’s field services logs and the system that reflects newly connected customers. Delays in log processing influenced planning and led to unnecessarily sending field workers to already connected sites, and also had further downstream effects on other departments which use the data. Processing deficiencies, she showed, can often be corrected by adapting the workflow. This is not only cost effective, but usually also addresses the real problem at hand.

The Department of Environment Affairs’ Marlanie Moodley also showcased segments of the recently released National Land Cover 2013/2014, which can be obtained from the department free of charge under an open user licence agreement. Also included in it is a third dataset, the 1990 land cover. The land cover classifies natural and man-made structures for the entire country, and plays an important role in monitoring and evaluation exercises. The 1:75 000 scale 2013/2014 land cover, with 72 classes and three levels of classifications, has been produced from Landsat 8 data. The 1990 data set is a 35 simplified classes base map.

Placing the land cover release in a national framework, the NSIF’s Helena Fourie gave an update on the implementation of the South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI). A new section of the SDI Act, which pertains to custodianship, has been promulgated Fourie said. Furthermore, the full SDI Act was proclaimed in May this year, whereas previously only parts of it were proclaimed. Fourie also gave an overview of other aspects of the act, according to which base data custodians are assigned set criteria, and outlined the responsibility of data custodians. She further advised that the registration of captured data is still in progress, and this is essential for avoiding duplications.

View photos from the event here.

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