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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Dublin Airport Employs Laser Scanning Data to Analyze Flood Risk and Understand Drainage Networks

August 29th, 2019 by Susan Smith

Dublin Airport is a busy international airport with very restricted airspace, which makes it difficult for an aerial survey company to capture data. As a consequence, the airport has been using data collected by laser scanning aircraft from aerial mapping company Bluesky to accurately measure land surface elevation to help reduce the risk of flooding at the airport. Dublin Airport is the 11th busiest airport in Europe, serving more than 31.5 million passengers in 2018, travelling to almost 200 destinations in 43 countries.

Dublin Airport

The specially commissioned survey by Bluesky involved the capture of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data for the entire site and surrounding area as part of a Dublin Airport Drainage Masterplan (DMP). Bluesky’s expertise and extensive experience with the airport and its existing relationship with the Irish Aviation Authority, who manage Air Traffic Control, made it possible to complete the survey without issue.

Robert Loughran, International Sales Manager, Bluesky Ireland spoke with GISCafe Voice about the recent use of laser scanning aircraft to collect data to accurately measure land surface elevation at Dublin Airport.

Bluesky Mapshop image of Ireland

A competitive tender process was how Dublin Airport commissioned Bluesky to complete the LiDAR survey. Using aircraft mounted lasers, Bluesky captured 50 centimetre point spaced height measurements across the complete campus and immediate vicinity. The captured height data was delivered in a variety of formats for use by the authority’s Drainage Masterplan consultants in InfoWorks ICM hydraulic modelling software.

The Bluesky data will be used to inform modelling projects which will help understand the airport’s drainage network, analyse flood risk relating to rainfall events and measure capacity in local watercourses. The Bluesky LiDAR data will also be used to model the flow of contaminants relating to aircraft de-icing an operational requirement required by safety regulations during the winter season.

What was the measurement area for the data collection? 

The area was 24 sq km

Did the Airport Drainage Masterplan include underground facilities? 

The plan is still being worked on however there are a number of drainage solutions in place including greenfield runoff, collection of runway runoff, holding tanks discharging to sewers, attenuation tanks discharging to sluice.

How were they able to collect the aerial data while the airport was operating, since it’s such a busy international hub?

The flying team worked with the IAA and Dublin ATC to figure out the best time to fly with traffic. It was decided after midnight was the best time but permission was still required an hour before and the flight was delayed for an hour due to traffic.

Will the airport continue to use Bluesky to provide up to date data for continuing data collection and projects?

DAA received copies of the survey data in all the formats requested so that it may be useful for other future applications.

Has the airport flooded before and if so, what was the method used to gather data in the past? 

The airport has not flooded recently but there has been flooding in the past,

see Irish flash floods*

What changes do you foresee the airport putting into effect as a result of receiving this new accurate data from Bluesky? 

The Airport's Drainage Masterplan consultants are developing a 2D hydraulic model using InfoWorks ICM (integrated all course catchment modelling) due to the software’s significant power and suitability for modelling large scale developments such as that of Dublin Airport. A 1D model only looks at the network itself and will simply highlight potential flooding at nodes in the network. A 2D model uses topographical mapping layered on top of the network to show the scale of flooding that would occur on the ground. The LiDAR data is the source of the topographical map in this case.


“Whilst we already possessed large amounts of topographical data ranging in age, type and coverage, for the hydraulic modelling applications we required accurate, up to date and consistent data across the entire site,” Dublin Airport Airfield Project Manager Martin McKee said. “LiDAR was the perfect choice to achieve this and by working with Bluesky we now have a benchmark dataset for all our Drainage Masterplan modelling as well as other applications.”

*While significant flooding has not occurred at Dublin Airport since August 2008, at that time 56mm of rain fell on Dublin Airport in 24 hours. The record had been set in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley in August 1986, with 60mm of rainfall in a 24-hour period. Surrounding roads were flooded and impassable. In Dublin, it was reported that one vehicle was swept down a road in flood waters. Between August 9 and August 13th several hours of heavy rainfall caused flash flooding, flooding and collisions on major highways, with the suspension of some DART services.

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Categories: airports, analytics, Big Data, Bluesky, drones, emergency response, field GIS, forestry, geospatial, GIS, government, handhelds, laser radar, laser scanner, lidar, location based sensor fusion, location based services, location intelligence, mobile, mobile mapping, public safety, remote sensing, satellite based tracking, sensors, storm surge, subsurface utilities, survey, transportation, utilities

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