Digital Environment: Dynamic Ground Motion Map of the UK

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Engineering Geology


The ground surface in the UK is far from stable. For example, there are more that 15,000 recorded landslides in the UK, and the average annual cost of ground movement to the insurance industry is £250M. Landslides affecting critical infrastructure, such as mainline railways or dams, can be associated with multi-million pound remediation costs even for a single slope failure event. Furthermore, there are tens of thousands of kilometres of engineered slopes in our transportation, utilities and flood defence infrastructure networks - many of which were built in Victorian times and are in poor condition.

Satellite technology, specifically ESA's Sentinel-1 constellation, has the potential to produce a dynamic, high resolution map of ground motion which can be used for monitoring and planning. The proposed feasibility study will explore whether UK expertise can be used to integrate Sentinel-1 data with sensors on the ground and embedded in the built environment to contribute to the Digital Environment. The study will leverage existing RCUK investments, map the requirements of potential stakeholders and explore cutting edge approaches to data handling, analysis, fusion and decision making.

In addition to the core of InSAR experts, our team comprises a) specialists in image processing and machine learning, b) specialists in landslides, subsidence and onshore energy production and c) two knowledge exchange fellows. A wide-ranging network of potential stakeholders has already been identified, and our selected project partners (Environment Agency, Network Rail, TerraDat, Bridgeway Consulting) represent the needs of key governmental and commercial beneficiaries. The output of the feasibility study will be a peer-reviewed white paper detailing the requirements for a Sentinel-1 based UK ground motion map to be incorporated into a Digital Environment.

Planned Impact

This feasibility study will generate a peer-reviewed white paper detailing how a satellite-derived ground motion map could be incorporated into the UK's Digital Environment. The white paper will describe the technical requirements for the sensor network(s) and assess the necessary developments in infrastructure, technology and data handling methods to form a coherent data chain from collection to delivery. The white paper will form a platform for future development, which will have impact for all the beneficiaries (policy makers and regulators, major infrastructure companies, geotechnical service companies, satellite services industry, academic researchers and the public).

Furthermore, the feasibility study will assemble multidisciplinary team across academic, government and industry that we anticipate will take leading roles in developing this component of the Digital Environment. 1) It will bring together a diverse project team from the Science and Engineering faculties at the Universities of Bristol and Leeds with the Geophysical Tomography and Earth Observation Teams at the British Geological Survey. 2) The project team will interact with a range of stakeholders, including the project partners (Environment Agency, Network Rail, SatSense, TerraDat, Bridgeway Consulting).

Specifically, the feasibility study will consider the following areas as outlined in the call:
- Sensor network requirements
The white paper will consider the necessary resolution, accuracy and frequency of dynamic updating required to monitor each of the sources of ground motion listed in section 2, in the context of current and future stakeholder requirements. It will also consider how satellite data could be best integrated with other surface and subsurface networks to address these requirements.
- Infrastructure for the development of a digital environment
The white paper will consider the necessary processing and storage facilities and access portals required to maintain a near-real time data source with reliable access. In particular, it will assess whether the CEMS Facility operated by the Satellite Applications Catapult would be appropriate or if a commercial cloud computing facility would be more suitable.
- Technological approaches or tools to deal with, manage and manipulate the vast volumes of data collected from sensors and the use of the current and/or forthcoming data and computer science techniques to enable access to multiple data streams and delivery of data
Earth Observation satellite technology is advancing rapidly and Sentinel-1 offers a step change in the quantity and reliability of data provision. The white paper will assess the requirements for monitoring UK ground motion to provide recommendations for current and future satellite missions. It will consider the latest in ground-based sensor technology and how best these could be integrated with satellite observations within the framework of the digital environment. We will also consider current and forthcoming data science techniques for handling, feature extraction, data fusion and decision making techniques for handling the huge data volumes involved.
- How these developments could be used effectively by government, businesses and communities/individuals
The white paper will map the network of potential stakeholders and outline their interests and requirements based on the stakeholder analysis.


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Description The aim of the project is to explore how existing satellite networks (i.e. InSAR) could be used to address environmental challenges posed by ground motion in the UK due to range of sources. This forms part of a feasibility study funded by the UKRI Digital Environment Programme. The project has identified key applications of satellite technology to prioritise for the grant application for the follow-up demonstrator phase.
Exploitation Route The goal is to develop satellite observations to assist government/industry in the UK who are responsible for dealing with the consequences of ground motion (e.g. subsidence, landslides etc.).
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description Digital Environment: Dynamic Ground Motion Map of the UK (12 November 2019, Bristol) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The aim of the workshop was to explore how existing satellite networks (i.e. InSAR) could be used to address environmental challenges posed by ground motion in the UK due to range of sources. This is part of a feasibility study funded by the UKRI Digital Environment Programme, and we were looking for input into the research that we should prioritise for the upcoming demonstrator phase. During the first part of the workshop, we sought to establish the environmental challenges and the current solutions/ capabilities. This was assisted by 5 minute 'lightning talks' by participants. In the second part, we discussed what a UK deformation service might look like and establish research priorities for the demonstrator phase.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019