Oct 22

Monitoring Landfills from Above

Constant monitoring and frequent measuring of landfill data is how landfill operators maintain safe, efficient and profitable functioning facilities.  Ayres Associates has provided geospatial services for numerous landfills across the country.  SevenMile_3D-5Recently, Cornerstone Environmental Group worked with Ayres to provide geospatial services for 21 active landfill sites in seven states. With the use of a Leica RCD30 digital aerial camera, the imagery was acquired and then utilized to create 2-foot interval topographic contours of the active sites.

There is a limited amount of time in which landfill sites can be flown, particularly in the Midwest.  The most viable flight time is in the early spring, when the ground is no longer snow-covered, but before the leaves have begun to appear on the trees.  After the initial aerial acquisition, fast turnaround on topographic mapping is critical for landfill decision makers, as their operational budgets cannot be finalized until after the flight and once the topographic data has been submitted for volumetric computations.

In addition to aerial-based topographic mapping for landfill volume calculations, waste collection companies benefit from a number of other geospatial services:

Up-to-date high-resolution orthoimagery is useful for making facility inventories. Because it’s rectified for real-world measurements, the imagery can serve as a tool for engineering-grade measurements. Planimetric mapping provides detailed data of ground features such as access roads, fence lines, building outlines, and monitoring devices.

Additionally, there is the ability to integrate the various imagery and mapping data. DEMThe orthoimagery can be draped over terrain data to create a photo-realistic 3-dimensional model of the landfill site. Contours and other planimetric features can be overlaid on the model, which can be used in GIS visualization software to tour, or ‘fly through,’ the landfill site from the comfort of the office.

Finally there is oblique imagery, which differs from standard aerial imagery in that it provides a 45-degree perspective of the site. Landfill operators find oblique imagery useful for remote viewing of property lines, especially handy for heavily wooded terrain.  This type of imagery also allows a person to see a site from all sides, providing an opportunity for an overall qualitative viewing of a landfill property.

A future possibility is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) outfitted with digital aerial cameras. Sidebar 1-UAV Currently, the FAA prohibits the use of UAVs for commercial use; however, regulations may be modified as UAV technology evolves. Small and lightweight, UAVs could be operated remotely by a person on the ground; ideal for a landfill property, which are typically a few hundred acres in size.

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