3D mapping an island for water supply project

A while ago I had asked about ways to map an island (4.5 x 3.6 miles). That was more for “fun” just to have a usable high resolution aerial view. I did not work on that project (yet).

Now a project has been started to create a water supply system consisting of 3 water reservoirs and thereafter 3 to 5 pump stations with water tank towers from where all the households and resorts would be provided with water.

As of now, the responsible people here on the island would literally walk around, choose a position for a pump station based on the feeling that a spot is a good one and deciding where to have the water pipes run along also based on their feeling and knowledge of the island. For sure also the result would not be bad at all. The people here know their place.

I am wondering though if I could help making the project even more successful with drone deploy (I use a DJI Mavic 2 Pro) by creating an accurate 3D map of the island (elevations in the relevant areas vary from 0 to about 160 feet).

We need to be able to identify the 5 spots

  • as high as possible so you need less pump work to bring the water to the houses
  • as well as possibly placed to reduce the amount of pipes required to supply all houses
  • choose the best possible path for the pipes to avoid unnecessary pipes work

With several test photos I know that is easy to identify most land boundaries from an aerial perspective. That helps identifying ideal paths where to go along with the pipes (at the border between lands is always the best solution to avoid “cutting through” the land of an owner).

Google Earth altitude data for the island are completely wrong. That you can see even just by standing on a spot and looking around.

Is Drone Deploy the solution for the job?

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Using a drone for this kind of project is a perfect fit because 1) It covers a large area. 2) if I remember correctly from your previous post it is not a wide open area and contains elevation changes but also quite a bit of vegetation 3) imagery is needed in order to be conscious of where the water is coming from, the route it has to travel and where it needs to deliver.

That said I also like the fact that you recognized the local knowledge and how it has been done up to this point in time. The human brain is an amazing thing and you would be surprised the types of problems it can resolve when it is given the right type of experiences and practical knowledge. Because of my background I could see where the water needs to come from and where it needs to go, stand at a midpoint and using my eye and my thumb tell you the best route for that to go but this is where the drone comes in. This ability starts to diminish as visibility is lost because of obstructions. Using a drone doesn’t negate the fact that a person can do this but it will make the entire operation many times over more efficient. The plan will come to fruition quicker, it will reduce the amount of materials needed and all the time will supply a forum that all parties involved can see the same information in near real time.

If you end up using a drone to aid this effort please document everything and share it as a use case for others to learn from.

One of the issues is, that standing on a spot will typically only show your rubber trees. Almost nowhere you have a free view. The whole island is covered with it. And if it is not a clean rubber tree plantation (where you can see some 200 feet away), then it is an abandoned rubber tree plantation that turned into a jungle where your view is 10 feet.

The aerial view shows you plenty of green surfaces. Here some views to give you an idea:

The pictures give you an idea on the difficulty to see elevations but also show that you have many hints for identifiying land boundries.

That is where I need Drone Deploy to visualize the elevations. But I am quite lost in the use of the software and I would not really know where to start. Mapping looks easy. How to make something with the result that is where I do not know how to do it.

A pointer to the right application would help.

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I think for what you are trying to do and that terrain you will need a point cloud editor to filter out the DSM.

OK. Looks like that ends my efforts to do this job. I was already lost with “point cloud editor” and “DSM” and had to use Google to understand.

That requries more time and knowledge than I can invest in this project. I sort of hoped to have something “automatic”… but I relaize that experience is needed to make the job.

Thanks for the help.

PS: unless there is a service that I could purchase, where I do the drone flying on site and the service provider makes the 3D graphic?

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If you don’t mind putting in the time to fly it I don’t mind doing the point cloud editing. Without being able to see it with my own eyes I can’t guarantee that it will work the way you need but I bet we could get some pretty good data. Do you have a DroneDeploy account? Maybe you could go test fly a battery at a area that is indicative of the more covered terrain.

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