Application of Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) in the water environment


UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC)

Start date:

February 2014


Until March 2015

Project abstract

Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) data from satellites is routinely used to monitor oceans and large bodies of inland water. There are several advantages to using this technique including sensitivity to a range of direct and indirect environmental indicators and rapid, wide area coverage from a single platform.

Wide area monitoring of water quality is key to the control and optimisation of future urban water management systems and ensuring that regulators and communities can work to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. The same features that make HSI so important economically in large water body monitoring offer tremendous potential in the emerging field of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), a land planning and engineering design approach which integrates the urban water cycle, including storm water, groundwater and wastewater management and water supply, into urban design to minimise environmental degradation.

While HSI is a well-established technique in a number of areas, it is as yet unproven in the field of shallow and narrow waterways. AECOM – one of the foremost developers of WSUD – in conjunction with UKATC, have identified a number of issues that must be tackled in order to deploy a solution to this space.

This collaborative project will see the organisations working to address questions of substantial magnitude in both technical risk and potential return, and together lay the basis for the development of next generation compact and portable HSI imagers and data analytics tailored to monitoring confined water bodies.

Potential Impact

The potential applications for HSI stretch out across the entire water sector; from applications within water and wastewater treatment, to monitoring and optimisation of future Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), providing an alternative and cost effective means of monitoring water quality. Developing regulatory pressure, coupled with the challenges organisations face in achieving compliance, is driving an expansion in the water monitoring market.

The development of a new class of HSI instrument to monitor restricted inland waterways could potentially lead to the introduction of a new, strongly marketable product of relevance globally to industrial and municipal audiences responsible for environmental regulation, transport, infrastructure and the built environment.

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