Land Cover

Creating Municipal Digital Twins with HD Vector Maps

February 9, 2021
Post by
Ecopia AI

Municipal Challenges with Geospatial Data

Today, the majority of municipalities face crippling inefficiencies when creating a digital twin of their region for the betterment of their community. Critical objectives — pedestrian safety, emergency services, taxation, and more — rely on accurate, up-to-date geospatial data. Without it, these objectives take too long to plan and execute, and sub-par accuracy creates organizational and logistical challenges.

Making matters worse, municipalities are routinely handicapped by their geospatial imagery renewal cycles that can often exceed several years — a result of budgetary constraints and the unavailability of the data they need. By the time GIS analysts and professionals do receive, process, and annotate this data — an extremely time-consuming process for time-strapped GIS professionals — new subdivisions have been built, street furniture and assets deployed, and transportation frameworks devised.

Furthermore, manually annotating land features and building footprints across entire regions can also lead to irregularities and inconsistencies. This is especially true when more than one annotator is involved. When real-world accuracy matters, these irregularities jeopardize initiatives aimed at the betterment of communities.

These challenges faced by municipal governments have long hampered the dream of a regional digital twin, accurately depicting their community and regularly kept up-to-date without taxing internal resources. However, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), the Contra Costa County’s Public Works Department, and the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) have drastically benefited from a scalable geospatial solution, laying the groundwork for true digital twins of their communities.

Ecopia’s HD Vector Maps

Leveraging our proprietary technology, Ecopia AI mines high-resolution geospatial imagery, generating High-Definition (HD) Vector Maps. Our proprietary technology allows us to rapidly produce accurate, up-to-date HD Vector Maps. With the accuracy of a trained GIS professional, Ecopia’s Global Feature Extraction captures 13 land classes — from roads to forests to building footprints — with the precision of a GIS professional, but with automation-level speed and efficiency.

Thanks to our global network of imagery partners, we can source recent high-resolution imagery anywhere in the world. Our ability to extract natural and impervious surfaces, including buildings, driveways, parking, pavement, railways, roads, and sidewalks with the accuracy and efficiency of AI enables significant cost savings and faster results.

In addition to our 2D Vector Mapping capabilities, we have refined a proprietary workflow that allows us to create 3D Vector Maps of buildings, at scale. As the need for elevation data continues to increase our 3D Vector Maps offer a more affordable solution than LiDAR with best-in-class accuracy and scalability. Our address matching engine can accurately assign the correct address to the right 3D building footprint, providing unparalleled accuracy and efficiency. This translates to better budget allocation and a faster turnaround, so initiatives start sooner and finish sooner.

Use Cases

Ecopia has supported dozens of municipalities across North America to derive critical insights about their communities through the creation of HD Vector Maps. Because every municipality is unique and faces its own complex challenges, Ecopia supports a wide number of potential use cases, helping municipalities keep their pedestrians safer, improving HD transportation mapping, and enhancing revenue with impervious surface mapping.

1. Pedestrian Transportation & Safety
Sidewalk HD Vector Map for SEMCOG

As the footprints of municipalities grow, so does the need to understand how their citizens move from place to place — and if they can do so safely. Ecopia’s HD Transportation Sidewalk and Crosswalk extractions are created with GIS professional-level accuracy, and with unmatched speed, enabling robust walkability and safety assessments. By also extracting sidewalk widths, municipalities can conduct finer analysis and modeling while becoming ADA compliant.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) turned to Ecopia for both sidewalk and crosswalk extractions across the region, ensuring transportation data was accurate across the region. Leveraging Ecopia’s machine learning algorithms, SEMCOG was better able to plan for transport and walkability projects significantly faster compared to traditional methods. These resulting efficiencies enhance analysis planning activities to improve mobility solutions that drive the economy, as well as safely connect people and place.

2. Right-of-Way & Advanced HD Road Extractions
Right-of-way HD Road Transportation Vector Map for Contra Costa

Manual annotation of road transportation features, from bike lanes to turn lanes to shoulders, is exceptionally time and resource-intensive. GIS professionals rarely have the time to conduct analyses or contribute to mission-critical planning when they’re manually annotating transportation features.

Ecopia’s Advanced HD Transportation extractions drastically save municipalities and their GIS professionals time by rapidly extracting over a dozen road features from aerial imagery. This scalable solution helps municipalities and local governments gain more insight into their pre-existing assets, effectively plan for future projects, and free up internal resources.

Working closely with Contra Costa County’s Public Works Department, Ecopia extracted multiple classes of sidewalks, crosswalks, and road lanes with our ground-breaking AI. These HD vector layers support the agency’s public transportation and transit projects. Delivering advanced road attributes in a fraction of the time and with the same accuracy as a human annotator, these layers can be leveraged for a wide variety of public engineering and planning activities.

3. Impervious Surfaces
Impervious Surfaces Vector Map for Detroit's Water & Sewerage Department

Highly detailed impervious surface mapping powers a variety of municipal applications, from urban sprawl analysis to stormwater drainage assessment to property taxation. Understanding impermeable surfaces enable better insight into runoff prediction and stormwater management. However, like other Land Cover features on a regional scale, it is time-consuming and costly to extract and maintain these impervious layers.

Our ability to extract buildings, driveways, parking, pavement, railways, roads, sidewalks and other impervious layers with the accuracy and efficiency of AI enables significant cost savings and faster results. This translates to better budget allocation and a faster turnaround for municipalities, so initiatives start sooner and finish sooner.

The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) enlisted Ecopia to help enable an analysis of Detroit’s impervious land classes. The resulting HD Vector Map powers a methodology that allows the city to more fairly tax citizens with larger areas that contribute to surface runoff on their property, as these individuals contribute to higher levels of stormwater infrastructure deterioration.

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If you're ready to leverage groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, let's chat. For more examples of Ecopia's extraction capabilities, please view our samples.

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If you're ready to leverage groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, let's chat. For more examples of Ecopia's extraction capabilities, please view our samples.