Mobile mapping a disaster area
Chapter 1: Understanding trough mobile mapping
Author: Irene Simonetta, June 2016
On July 8, 2015, an Enhanced Fujita Scale (EFS) 4 tornado struck the Brenta River area of northern Italy, around the towns of Pianiga, Dolo and Mira. A famous feature of the area, the Venetian Villas were severely impacted, scattering them along the river region. Built in the 16th century and designed by the renowned architect Andrea Palladio from Padua, these classical forms draw thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. The area was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
The natural disaster tragically caused one death and injured 72 people, heavily damaging 250 homes and displacing hundreds. In all, damages accounted to tens of millions of Euros.
Understanding trough mobile mapping
The headquarters of T&T Service is located in the region where the tornado struck. With a long experience in topography and High Definition Surveying (HDS), the surveying firm helped local authorities in the first hours of the aftermath and beyond to understand the extent of the damage.
“To see that amount of destruction that close to home was very trying for us, but we wanted to help our community in any way we could,” said Gianpiero Toniato, owner of T&T Service. “As soon as the tornado passed, we set out with our equipment to help the emergency responders and police to document the damage.”
That equipment included the Leica Pegasus:Backpack. As the area was being evacuated for safety reasons, T&T Services needed to quickly get in, document and get out in the midst of the evacuation. Mobile mapping, therefore, was the best solution to acquire data as swiftly as possible while ensuring all necessary information was captured.
Leica Geosystems was immediately available to carry out a pro bono survey to support the local authorities. Since the area wasn’t accessible by traditional mobile mapping systems, the Pegasus:Backpack was selected for its advanced mobility to access difficult areas easily.
Taking immediate action with minimal interference to the operations of the rescue workers, Aldo Facchin, Leica Geosystems Mobile Mapping R&D manager, was able to access the area to scan the extent of damage caused by the storm’s fury.
“We found excessive damage to home and other structures,” said Facchin. “With the Backpack, we were able to easily pass through areas obstructed by fallen debris.”
Once completed, all data was turned over to T&T Service. Toniato and his team used the detailed point clouds to investigate and measure the damaged areas, providing a valuable perspective on how a natural disaster affects such a historic space.
Explore next chapter: Accessing the inaccessible