MWC Barcelona 2023

Vodafone and OHLA will use geospatial technology and Artificial Intelligence to optimise urban green areas management

March 1, 2023

  • The project, already implemented in Fuenlabrada City Council, has been promoted by Ingesan, the leading subsidiary of the OHLA Group’s Services business division, with the collaboration of GeoAIT, a company specialized in geospatial technology and Artificial Intelligence
  • The system allows the inventory of tree mass surfaces and provides relevant information on the state of trees’ health, facilitating decision making related to the allocation of maintenance resources
  • Fighting against pollution in cities through a better conservation of green areas is part of Vodafone’s aim to connect for a better future by using technology to offer the most innovative services to society
  • Vodafone is the IoT market leader in Spain, with more than 5 million connected devices

Vodafone has presented a pioneering solution to optimise the management of urban green spaces using geospatial technology and Artificial Intelligence at this year´s MWC 2023. The Internet of Things (IoT) project has been promoted by Ingesan, the leading subsidiary of the Services business division of the global infrastructure group OHLA, and has also counted on the collaboration of GeoAIT, a company specialized in geospatial technology and Artificial Intelligence. The satellite photography is provided by the leading American company in the sector, Maxar, which owns and operates the most sophisticated constellation of Earth images in orbit, collecting more than 3.8 million square kilometres of high-resolution satellite images every day.

Specifically, the OHLA subsidiary has designed the so called VerSat platform, a pioneering R&D project in Spain that uses very high-resolution satellite images to detect improvement areas and to optimise the urban green spaces management. The tool supports the decision, design, implementation and monitoring of urban climate mitigation actions and ecosystem indicators; and it is already being studied and analysed in the Circular Economy University Professorship at the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid, aimed at specialized training and dissemination in the field of circular economy.

A pioneering solution to fight climate change

The conservation of urban green spaces is essential in the fight against climate change and, being more and more aware of this challenge, local administrations are increasingly striving to optimise maintenance works, maximising the performance of work teams and ensuring a correct allocation of the natural, human and material resources required for their proper conservation.

Combining Artificial Intelligence and the most advanced geospatial technology with high-resolution satellite photographs, the solution is capable of making an inventory of the tree mass with an estimated accuracy of 95%. In addition, these satellites use infrared sensors to collect information beyond the visible spectrum, which provides a deeper understanding of everything that is happening in a given area, making it possible to classify types of crops, identify the health status of plants, detect diseases and pests, know their water stress to manage irrigation levels, and so on. In this way, more than 30 biochemical and biophysical vegetative indicators are obtained, as well as spectral signatures that classify the health of the vegetation, categorise natural matter, penetrate smoke and detect fires or map minerals, among other functionalities.

All this information, analysed as part of an IoT solution, helps parks and gardens teams make the best decisions when allocating resources for green space maintenance. This optimises available resources and contributes to more efficient resource management.

Previous experience in Fuenlabrada City Council (Madrid, Spain)

Fuenlabrada City Council (Madrid, Spain) was the first public institution in Spain to use the solution for this purpose. The project, carried out by Vodafone, GeoAI, Maxar and GMV for OHLA, consisted of the development of a proof of concept with the aim of displaying an automated analysis of the vegetation in the urban parks and gardens of the Madrid municipality.

The results delivered in the proof of concept included: an inventory with geospatial information of the vegetation, the extent of green areas of trees and grasses calculation, a classification by species, a baseline of the health of the stands based on the analysis of the vegetation’s biophysical characteristics (leaf area and photosynthetic activity) and the comparative evaluation of the vegetation’s health compared to the previous year.

The implementation of the project has illustrated the value of data for urban green elements management. By digitising the service, the inventory of the tree mass and the control of its health parameters can be carried out more quickly and accurately, without the need for any kind of displacement, which saves costs, reduces the operation time on the ground and

improves the quality of the provided service communication, also enhancing the sustainability of the cities themselves. In addition, it will be possible to access the historical data of the project, facilitating the evolution monitoring of all the controlled areas.

Thanks to the accuracy of its surface temperature estimation models, VerSat makes it possible to identify the existence of urban heat islands and design specific actions.