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Multispectral visual monitoring of the impact of civil engineering works on the environment (VISIONTECH4LIFE)
Start date: Jul 1, 2013, End date: Mar 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) have been used for several decades as a tool to prevent or quickly identify any environmental damage arising from an activity. The assessments involve identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the environmental, social, and other relevant potential impacts of works, such as civil infrastructure. They are used to inform rational decision-making that understands the potential long-term impact of a project. However, the success of the methodology depends on the experience and knowledge of the technicians responsible for its application and interpretation. Environmental monitoring is a crucial stage for enabling the assessments to be made. Yet, despite the often detailed methodologies behind many of the indicators used, much of the assessment is subjective and based on previous experience. This can lead to varying quality in the standard of EIAs and thus on the ultimate environmental protection they provide. Objectives The VISIONTECH4LIFE project aims to provide a more objective system of conducting environmental impact assessments. It specifically targets automation and integrated control of the range of environmental monitoring elements. This will act as a key supporting tool for environmental monitoring plans and help efficiently prevent and control the direct and indirect environmental impacts of civil works. The project will develop a methodology for monitoring and measuring environmental indicators based on innovative technologies, such as multispectral vision and remote sensors. It will cover elements including population, wildlife, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, natural resources, local heritage and landscape. To implement the methodology, the project will develop three validated prototype monitoring and tracking devices: a mobile device; a fixed device; and a portable handheld device. VISIONTECH4LIFE will apply technological advances in GIS to enable the integration and remote control of the monitoring and measuring systems. It will cover the site of any works and also the surrounding areas, including rivers, protected areas, urban areas and so on. The aim is that this GIS tool will be easy-to-use in any civil works project, enabling monitoring of every relevant environmental impact according to the particular characteristics of each project. Finally, the project will develop a software platform to provide decision-makers with access to the tracking information and environmental sustainability indicators. This aims to reduce actuation times from the identification of any environmental risk or damage and thus avoid the deterioration of the environment, in many cases with a high nature value. It will also avoid any costs related to necessary corrective actions or possible legal sanctions. Expected results: The project expects to achieve the following results: A more objective and efficient system for monitoring and assessing the environmental impact of any works; To reduce the measuring and tracking time of environmental impacts by 40-80%; To reduce the response time to environmental impact by almost 90%; To prevent and avoid several forms of environmental impact; 40% cost savings through the avoidance or simplification of corrective works; To provide recommendations on improving European regulations and best practice to reduce the environmental impact of civil works projects; and To support the development of an eco-label or similar validation of sustainable civil works in the future.

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