An increasing number of services that are becoming commonplace in people’s daily lives need up-to-date and reliable location information – that is, the most accurate updated map. A recently published study suggests for the first time how the latest digital remote sensing materials at different scales as well as automations could be used to effectively update maps.

Read the full news release at FGI website

See video about the research paper’s results

The aim of the study was to examine new mapping technology providing much more versatile information about the terrain than current methods. The study creates a vision of how the new data made possible by modern technology can be used and combined with older methods.

In the concept, drawn up by a multinational group of researchers, regional changes – such as new construction and felling of forests – are first observed in open satellite data covering most of the earth. The data concerning the changes is then confirmed using new high-precision methods authenticating the changes’ precise extent and type.

The new technology is much more precise, but also much more expensive, than the methods widely used at present. The research team presents an idea of how at least some of the more accurate measurements can be targeted cost-effectively at significant regions of change. The goal is to have more accurate and up-to-date maps and city models.

“There is a global need to increase the effectiveness of updating methods. Interpretation of change data from the latest remote sensing material can be more thoroughly automated, which opens new opportunities to support map updating with artificial intelligence. In our vision for the future, map updating processes will become faster and more accurate, because mapping experts can focus directly on interpreting changes, rather than looking for them,” says the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute’s Research Manager Eetu Puttonen.

Three intensity images from laser scanner data

Intensity images from Optech Titan airborne laser scanner data from two dates and automatically detected changes presented in red colour with map data. Finnish Geospatial Research Institute FGI, The National Land Survey of Finland; Contains data from the National Land Survey of Finland Topographic database 2015.

More information: Research Manager Eetu Puttonen, +358 29 531 4868,

Matikainen, L., Pandžić, M., Li, F., Karila, K., Hyyppä, J., Litkey, P., Kukko, A., Lehtomäki, M., Karjalainen, M., and E. Puttonen, 2019. Toward utilizing multitemporal multispectral airborne laser scanning, Sentinel-2, and mobile laser scanning in map updating. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, 13(4), 044504.