Law no. 179/2002 (art. 27) has provided a funding for creation of a high precision not-ordinary plan of remote sensing aimed at verifying and monitoring of areas with high landslide risk. This project was created to support the needs of the Central Government for institutional mission with the task of coordinating the activities for soil conservation (Ministry of the Environment and for Protection of the Land and Sea), predict and manage the consequences of natural events in emergency situations (Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Department of Civil Protection) and manage the national competences of mapping and safety (Ministry of Defence – Chiefs of Defence). These central government signed a programme agreement, with the approval of the Government/Regional Administrations Conference, the organ by which local governments involved in land management, environmental and emergency management, to establish a shared national database supporting the activities of territorial governance.
The Piano Straordinario di Telerilevamento Ambientale (Not-Ordinary Plan of Remote Sensing) aims to strengthen the tools of knowledge and to enhance the skills of observation and control of the territory through the use of innovative remote sensing techniques, while helping to enhance the technological capabilities and to spread its use in Public Administration . With a view to sharing that focuses on the entire project, the MoE wanted to extend the scope of the plan to all the problems of environmental (Piano Straordinario di Telerilevamento Ambientale – PST-A), ensuring that the database is oriented not only to the landslide risk, but also to other important areas of environmental interest. Taking into account this aspect of the technical committee has defined the technologies to be used: Differential Interferometry SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and Laser Scanning LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging).
The first phase of the PST-A (2008 – 2009) led to the development of SAR images through interferometric technique acquired by satellites ERS1 / ERS2 and ENVISAT between 1992 and 2008 throughout the national territory and the creation of LiDAR flights on the main river network and on the coast. At the same time of the acquisition of data, it has been developed the open source software GIS AdB-Toolbox with tools dedicated to the management and processing of remote sensing data.
The second phase (2010 – 2011) led to the integration of the database already created in the previous step. The interferometric dataset has been updated with processed SAR images acquired by the ENVISAT satellite from 2008 to 2010. The database has been extended with LiDAR surveys carried out in areas of high hydro-geological risk identified by the technical committee of State-Regions.
In this phase was also launched an experimental project for the interferometric processing of radar images from new generation satellite constellation COSMO-SkyMed of three geographical areas characterized by phenomena of different types and distributed in different areas of the Italian territory (Bologna, Palermo Venice).
These activities were carried out with scientific and technical cooperation of two Universities:
- Interdepartmental Centre for Research in Cartography, Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and GIS of the ‘University of Padua’ (CIRGEO);
- Department of Hydraulic, Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering, University of Naples Federico II (DIGa).
Overall, the study carried out in the three test areas has led to very interesting results that show the improved performance of the COSMO-SkyMed (higher spatial and radiometric resolution, higher accuracy, shorter time to revise, etc.) Than the previous SAR systems and the great potential it offers for the monitoring and control of the phenomena of instability of the area, paving the way also to new applications in this field.
The third phase (2013 – 2015), provides an upgrade and an update of the data base made earlier. In view of the excellent results achieved in the three test areas of phase two, there is an increased database with interferometric processing of 100 frames (40 x 40 km) of the COSMO-SkyMed images acquired by ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) within the ‘Map Italy’ project. New LiDAR flights, on the recommendation of the Basin Authorities, Regions and Autonomous Provinces, regarding the secondary drainage network and sub-areas with particular problems.
In addition, it has been provided for the Autonomous Province of Trento, a survey with a hyper spectral sensor throughout the province.
The technologies used within the PST-A can be used for more than the issues of the geological risk industry and therefore it can also make use of the data acquired for other purposes. The Central and Local Public Administrations, through the PST-A products, will be able to ensure, by means of visual reference tools, on the areas of interest to them, such as pollution, landfills, industrial areas, industrial post, roads, highways, hydro-geological risk, landslides, power stations, natural areas and parks, marine areas and others.