Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mapping Unexploded WWII Bombs in Germany

While visiting our German business partner, GEOSYSTEMS, in Munich this week we had the opportunity to discuss a very interesting workflow they have been extensively involved with over the last several years.

Dealing with unexploded munitions has remained a challenge for Germany since the end of WWII. Here is a great article outlining the challenge.

However, mapping based on aerial photography has been a success in many regions throughout the country. The workflow involves processing legacy aerial photography taken during or shortly after the war. The imagery is often of poor quality, and may even be lacking the fiducial marks required to establish interior orientation. GEOSYSTEMS tackled this by building an application to reconstruct fidicual locations. After that, they run through the classic photogrammetric workflow and produce stereo images and digital orthos. This enables both 2D and 3D workflows for capturing the location of bomb craters. After munitions locations have been mapped, the data can then be entered in a GIS. Next comes the practical application: in the areas that have implemented this workflow, the database is checked prior to new construction. This helps uncover the potential locations for unexploded munitions prior to construction - which is a life-saving application.

Here is an example of the 2D workflow: vectors of the bomb locations are collected in IMAGINE:

Files with the XY coordinates of the potential bomb locations can also be created:

For the 3D stereo feature extraction process, here's another example depicting stereo extraction in Stereo Analyst for ArcGIS: