How Aerial Data Can Improve Coastline Monitoring


Governments around the world searching for ways to better visualize what’s happening along their nation’s coastlines and maritime environments. Border security, search and rescue, port and shipping activity, environmental health – there are numerous coastal activities that governments need to be aware of. Aerial technology can get you the actionable data you need to develop predictive analytics for better decision-making around the trends, hotspots, and likelihood of future occurrences along the coast.

Benefits of Leveraging Aerial Data for Coastline Monitoring

Let’s examine how the SkyX solution helps government agencies better monitor and safeguard their coastlines:

1. Border Security

Coastal borders can be a hotbed for illegal activity, including drug trafficking, smuggling, unregulated fishing, and so on.

A long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) equipped with a high-resolution camera that syncs with object and change detection software is a force multiplier for coast guard teams. This system can detect and record precise locations of vessels outside of regulated zones, suspicious vessels lacking proper identifiers, foreign vessels, and suspected illegal fishing, allowing authorities to act accordingly. With regular, ongoing coastal inspections, a predictive analytics model can identify hotspots of unauthorized traffic along the coast and predict how likely you are to see an increase or decrease in the future. With this information in hand, security agencies can work to prevent security and environmental issues along their coastal borders proactively.

2. Search and Rescue

Accidents happen and every coast guard has to deal with domestic vessels in need of rescue from time to time. A UAV is an excellent tool for search and rescue teams given its ability to coordinate with vessels on the water. In a distress call scenario, a UAV can serve as a forward scout. With a robust communications link, the aerial system can communicate positions to rescue teams and quickly provide imagery of the area that rescuers can use to get intel on the situation as they head in.

3. Port and Shipping Activity

Ports stand to see a great return on investment from an aerial data solution. A UAV can gather a variety of visual data that assists with port operations such as container inventory, port machinery inspections, and shipping traffic around the port. With the flexibility of having different payload cameras and sensors onboard, a UAV can monitor emissions from ships entering a port, track and log containers in storage areas, or identify signs of damage on port machinery.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and shipping traffic is an area where predictive analytics can help make a big difference. An aerial monitoring system can measure the congestion of ships at sea, trucks in the yard, and containers in storage. Over time, a predictive analytics model can leverage this information and check it against external data, to identify potential indicators of traffic around your port. With foresight on potential congestion, you can take the necessary steps to alleviate it.

4. Environmental Observation

The UK is an interesting use case of the challenges coastal communities are facing in a world of climate change and rising sea levels. The cliffs of sand and clay that form the UK’s picturesque shores are unfortunately highly-susceptible to erosion. Numerous towns along the UK’s eastern coast are facing significant shoreline loss in the coming decades, which will see thousands of homes lost to the sea.3 Many other areas around the world, will face similar challenges along their shorelines in the coming years.

This is an area where a high-quality aerial data solution has a significant long-term pay-off. In this scenario, a LiDAR sensor, which uses laser pulses to measure elevations in the Earth, allows us to precisely track changes such as erosion in a 3D space. Flying a regular route along the shoreline, a UAV captures consistent sensor data for analysis, which is easily repeatable day by day. With this steady flow of information, an AI model can leverage historical data for comparison with the latest inspection, to detect subtle changes in the landscape due to erosion or flooding.

Over time, a predictive analytics model can cross-reference your inspections against weather data to show how erosion is progressing along your coastline, or make a well-informed prediction of when and where flooding is likely to occur. With a sharp estimate of what your coastline will look like in the future, environmental protection agencies can focus their efforts on tackling problem areas of environmental degradation.

Consider Aerial Data as a Solution to Your Coastal Challenges

Government agencies are in a better place than ever before to tackle the big issues along their coastline with powerful aerial data solutions. Have questions about how high-quality aerial data can help you?
Contact our team to discuss your unique challenges and data requirements.

  1. England’s disappearing coastline: Shocking map reveals coastal towns at risk of being wiped out over next 20 years – and suggests 7,000 homes will fall into the sea by end of century, Ian Randall, Daily Mail, 2019