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Artificial Intelligence-based software detects encroachments on defence land using satellite imagery

The application has been used by CoE in 62 cantonments and comparison done with ground position in recent period (Representational image)

The Centre of Excellence on Satellite and Unmanned Remote Vehicle Initiative (CoE-SURVEI) has developed an Artificial Intelligence-based software which can automatically detect change on ground, including unauthorised constructions and encroachments in a time series using satellite imagery.

The CoE-SURVEI, inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in December 2021, leverages latest technologies in survey, including satellite imagery, drone imagery and geo-spatial tools, for effective land management and urban planning.

Established by Directorate General Defence Estates at National Institute of Defence Estates Management, the CoE-SURVEI developed the Change Detection Software in collaboration with knowledge partner Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Visakhapatnam.

Presently, the tool uses National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) Cartosat-3 imagery with trained software. The changes are detected by analysing satellite imagery of different time periods.


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh lighting the lamp to inaugurate the Defence Estates Day celebrations, organised by Directorate General Defence Estates, in New Delhi on December 16, 2021 (PIB file photo)

The application has been used by CoE in 62 cantonments and comparison done with ground position in recent period. The tool enables Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Cantonment Boards to identify changes on ground that are of permanent nature and then enables them to check if such changes are authorised or without due sanction of the competent authority.

It leads the CEO to know if action has been taken in time against unauthorised constructions or encroachments and if not, suitable legal action can be taken without delay.

The software facilitates better control on unauthorised activities, ensures accountability of field staff and helps in reducing corrupt practices. It was known that out of 1,133 unauthorised changes detected, the action was already taken in 570 cases. In the remaining 563 cases, wherever legal action is warranted the same has been initiated by the Cantonment Boards after changes were detected by the tool.

The change detection tool has resulted in effective defence land management. Efforts are on to further fine tune and upgrade it to achieve higher accuracy. The CoE has now partnered with a couple of other reputed organisations for improved AI interface with change detection tool so as to enhance the functionality of change detection software. This may specifically benefit DGDE and Services in management of defence land located in remote and inhospitable terrains.

The CoE-SURVEI has also developed tools for vacant land analysis and 3D imagery analysis of hill cantonments for land management. By leveraging technology, it is trying to ensure optimum use of defence land through Geographic Information System (GIS)-based land management systems.

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