Japanese specialists have used satellite data to detect new locations in Guatemala City, the capital of the Central American state of Guatemala, which are at risk from sinkholes or landslides. The data was collected using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) on satellites developed and operated by Tokyo-based enterprise Synspective. The operation was an information gathering and pilot project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The project ran for three years, from July 2018 to June 2021. It saw Synspective use its ground deformation monitoring service, called Land Displacement Monitoring (LDM), to undertake a ground deformation analysis covering Guatemala City and its suburbs. The programme identified new places at risk of sinkage, which had not been identified by conventional survey methods.
The project established that wide area analysis using satellite SAR data could provide new ground deformation and sinkage risk information, which conventional approaches could not. In addition, the time from the analysis of the data to the provision of the resulting information to users was cut to only about 33% of the time taken by conventional methods. This was because the company used automatic analysis.
The result of the more rapid provision of information on new sinkhole and landslide risks is expected to be speedier implementation of preventive measures to guard against, and/or mitigate the effects of, sinkhole formation and landslides. Following the completion of analysis of the results of the pilot project, the plan is for Synspective and JICA to participate in disaster prevention projects across Guatemala, and not just in the capital city.
“LDM enables easy acquisition of analysis results from SAR satellites and provides analysis results on an easy-to-understand screen display on the Web, without requiring environmental equipment such as specialised software or advanced technical knowledge,” the company pointed out. “In terms of functions, the ability to zoom in on the area of interest and automatically create graphs allows for detailed data confirmation and analysis.”
Synspective is a one-stop geospatial data solutions provider, using its own SAR satellites. The company is currently creating a constellation of these spacecraft. The core technology it uses was developed under Japan’s ImPACT programme. ImPACT is led by the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan.