15 December 2017

Time flies and another year comes to an end. This blog summarises and highlights what we have achieved during 2017.

Our vision has been to create innovative location-centric applications using Geospatial Big Data Analytics, Global Earth Observation and Cloud Computing. Location intelligence is becoming ubiquitous and increasingly important for a wide range of applications, including emergency response, insurance underwriting and claims, asset management, real estate and news reporting. We strive to deliver integrated information products with unique location metrics and insights.

Three levels of information products have been formed (Figure 1). We have been developing new processing algorithms (i.e. knowledge- and data-driven), software tools, data products and platforms to enable the efficient delivery of new information products at scale. Two cloud-based analytics platforms (PropertyLocation.com.au and PropertyLocation360.comwere set up for this purpose. Coverage includes Australia, the U.S. and the rest of the world. Related news releases can be found in our blogs:

Figure 1: Three levels of location information products

Disasters take place somewhere every day, and rich and timely location information can provide unique perspectives to help understand those events. Most of our R&D projects this year (summaries below) are related to emergency and insurance applications in Australia and overseas, and we believe they can be used to greatly enhance situational awareness and complement ratings-based information products when assessing hazard and risk.

1. Australia

Early this year, Tropical Cyclone Debbie and associated flooding (e.g. Figure 2) caused havoc to Queensland and northern NSW. We used the newly developed platform to create some timely location information products, which were well received by many. Related blogs include:

Figure 2: Flooding in Rockhampton after Cyclone Debbie (8 April 2017)

Once again, this year’s bushfire season started early. We followed the development of each major fire event and carried out fire scar mapping using the latest imagery from Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 satellites (e.g. Figure 3). Advanced and automated methods have been developed to facilitate this. Brief reporting includes:

Bushfire risk is on the increase. We also created tools to visualise bushfire risk for addresses in Australia:

Figure 3: Bushfires near Cessnock, NSW (12 September 2017)

2. The U.S.

We contributed maps from satellite image analysis, exposure location profile reports and animations for a number of catastrophic events in the U.S. this year, including :

  • 08/2017 Hurricane Harvey

  • 10/2017 Wildfires in Northern California, near San Francisco

  • 12/2017 Wildfires in Southern California, near Los Angeles

All are archived here.

3. The Rest of the World

As part of rapid mapping efforts, we created exposure location profile reports for some major events taking place in the rest of the world (Figure 4):

  • 11/2017 Mount Agung Volcano Eruption in Indonesia

  • 08/2017 Landslide in Sierra Leone

  • 07/2017 Flooding in Japan

  • 06/2017 Landslide in China

  • 06/2017 Wildfires in Portugal

The location profile reports were shared to enhance news reporting and raise situational awareness. All are archived here.

Figure 4: Sample location profile reports produced for major events around the world

4. Research into Exposure (Population and Housing) Changes in Space and Time

To enhance the property location information portal specific to Australia, we also carried out analyses of the 2016, 2011 and 2006 Australian census data on population and housing. Outcomes were reported in the following two blogs:

5. Flood Mapping for the U.S. and Australia

Large-area flood mapping is highly demanded and under rapid development by various vendors worldwide. We have made a great effort to create new flood mapping tools and methods by explicitly considering elevation data sources, catchment sizes and inundation depths. Details can be found in these two blogs:

6. Ideas for 2018

With rapid technological changes (e.g. big data storage, cloud computing and global Earth observation), it is an exciting time to develop new tools and deep analytics, and advance location-centric business applications to the next level. Some of our ideas for 2018 include:

  • Keep enhancing the two platforms (PropertyLocation.com.au and PropertyLocation360.com) by creating more location metrics;

  • Significantly expand rapid mapping case studies for major events in Australia, the U.S. and the rest of the world using the above two platforms;

  • Apply new methods in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and identify and explore suitable applications that could potentially provide tangible, competitive benefits; and

  • Provide critical reviews on major analytical issues, such as image classification accuracy vs. application requirements, and valid aggregation vs. disaggregation widely used in environmental modelling.


By this opportunity, we’d like to thank all colleagues and friends we have worked with over the past year for their continued support, helpful exchanges and shared enthusiasm. We thank all readers for following us. We wish everyone an enjoyable holiday season and a fulfilling new year.