EGU General Assembly 2023
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A new approach for hazard and disaster prevention: deep learning algorithms for change detection and classification RADAR/SAR

Ilaria Pennino
Ilaria Pennino

It has become increasingly apparent over the past few decades that environmental degradation is something of a common concern for humanity and it is difficult to deny that the present environmental problems are caused primarily by anthropogenic activities rather than natural causes.

To minimize disaster’s risk, the role of geospatial science and technology may be a terribly helpful and necessary technique for hazard zone mapping throughout emergency conditions. 

This approach can definitively help predict harmful events, but also to mitigate damage to the environment from events that cannot be efficiently predicted.

With detailed information obtained through various dataset, decision making has become simpler. This fact is crucial for a quick and effective response to any disaster. Remote sensing, in particular RADAR/SAR data, help in managing a disaster at various stages. 

Prevention for example refers to the outright avoidance of adverse impacts of hazards and related disasters; preparedness refers to the knowledge and capacities to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from, the impacts of likely, imminent or current hazard events or conditions.

Finally relief is the provision of emergency services after a disaster in order to reduce damage to environment and people.

Thanks to the opportunity proposed by ASI (Italian Space Agency) to use COSMO-SkyMed data, in NeMeA Sistemi srl we developed two projects: “Ventimiglia Legalità”, “Edilizia Spontanea” and 3xA.

Their main objective is to detect illegal buildings not present in the land Legal registry.

We developed new and innovative technologies using integrated data for the monitoring and protection of environmental and anthropogenic health, in coastal and nearby areas. 

3xA project addresses the highly challenging problem of automatically detecting changes from a time series of high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. In this context, to fully leverage the potential of such data, an innovative machine learning based approach has been developed. 

The project is characterized by an end-to-end training and inference system which takes as input two raw images and produces a vectorized change map without any human supervision.

More into the details, it takes as input two SAR acquisitions at time t1 and t2, the acquisitions are firstly pre-processed, homogenised and finally undergo a completely self-supervised algorithm which takes advantage of DNNs to classify changed/unchanged areas. This method shows promising results in automatically producing a change map from two input SAR images (Stripmap or Spotlight COSMO-SkyMed data), with 98% accuracy.

Being the process automated, results are produced faster than similar products generated by human operators.

A similar approach has been followed to create an algorithm which performs semantic segmentation from the same kind of data.

This time, only one of the two SAR acquisitions is taken as input for pre-processing steps and then for a supervised neural network. The result is a single image where each pixel is labelled with the class predicted by the algorithm. 

Also in this case, results are promising, reaching around 90% of accuracy. 

How to cite: Pennino, I.: A new approach for hazard and disaster prevention: deep learning algorithms for change detection and classification RADAR/SAR, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-6522,, 2023.