The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLII-2/W13
04 Jun 2019
 | 04 Jun 2019


S. Ghaffarian and N. Kerle

Keywords: debris identification, damage assessment, recovery, UAV, satellite images

Abstract. Often disasters cause structural damages and produce rubble and debris, depending on their magnitude and type. The initial disaster response activity is evaluation of the damages, i.e. creation of a detailed damage estimation for different object types throughout the affected area. First responders and government stakeholders require the damage information to plan rescue operations and later on to guide the recovery process. Remote sensing, due to its agile data acquisition capability, synoptic coverage and low cost, has long been used as a vital tool to collect information after a disaster and conduct damage assessment. To detect damages from remote sensing imagery (both UAV and satellite images) structural rubble/debris has been employed as a proxy to detect damaged buildings/areas. However, disaster debris often includes vegetation, sediments and relocated personal property in addition to structural rubble, i.e. items that are wind- or waterborne and not necessarily associated with the closest building. Traditionally, land cover classification-based damage detection has been categorizing debris as damaged areas. However, in particular in waterborne disaster such as tsunamis or storm surges, vast areas end up being debris covered, effectively hindering actual building damage to be detected, and leading to an overestimation of damaged area. Therefore, to perform a precise damage assessment, and consequently recovery assessment that relies on a clear damage benchmark, it is crucial to separate actual structural rubble from ephemeral debris. In this study two approaches were investigated for two types of data (i.e., UAV images, and multi-temporal satellite images). To do so, three textural analysis, i.e., Gabor filters, Local Binary Pattern (LBP), and Histogram of the Oriented Gradients (HOG), were implemented on mosaic UAV images, and the relation between debris type and their time of removal was investigated using very high-resolution satellite images. The results showed that the HOG features, among other texture features, have the potential to be used for debris identification. In addition, multi-temporal satellite image analysis showed that debris removal time needs to be investigated using daily images, because the removal time of debris may change based on the type of disaster and its location.