Remote sensing and teledetection

NEWS:  The application from the ISSeP, Skywin and Spacebel was selected from among 60 applications to be the relay for the activities of the Copernicus space programme in our region. This “Copernicus Relay” is responsible for promoting the Commission’s earth observation programme.

Integrating space and airborne data into the environmental analysis

Environmental information is used to better understand our planet and the role of human activities in climate change and/or our daily well-being. To make the right decisions, environmental policies need precise and up-to-date data. Space data offers a range of perspectives for improving our decision-making tools in Wallonia and internationally.
In the extension of the geomatic activities of the ISSeP’s mapping group and in terms of the Walloon region’s geomatic plan, the ISSeP created, in January 2016, the remote detection and geodata department (CTG), a unit specialising in the acquisition, analysis and use of this data in the decision-making process. The ISSeP develops its technical skills in the space sector and offers its knowledge to Walloon public services to be the link between the Walloon administration and international earth observation stakeholders.

Use of soil and the environment

For the climate watch or the territorial study, the department specialises in the detection of soil use changes. The ISSeP uses satellite images to map and assess deterioration of forests, soils, and water resources in Africa, or to analyse the risks to human health in Belgium. These images help with understanding our future environment: deforestation, urban growth, distribution, and vulnerability of the population (see SMARTPOP project).

Device for measuring biomass in tropical forests

Risk analysis

In response to the European directive, the ISSeP has developed a geographic information system (GIS) for analysing the major risks related to mining waste sites and heaps. The instability of slopes and self-combustion are studied by combining and comparing existing geodata (e.g. photos or ERRUISSOL or LiDAR digital earth models). Satellite images (LANDSAT) have added value in terms of price and processing time with an adequate resolution.

Geodata for the Heribus heap: ERRUISSOL slopes (a), LIDAR slopes (b), photo 1969 (c), ortho photo 2012-2013 (d), photo 1959 (e), security factor MNT lidar (f), profile of section AB (g), security factor MNT ERRUISSOL

The CTG analyses data using satellite (ASTER and LANDSAT), airborne (plane, helicopter, and drone) and ground thermography to characterise the self-combustion of the heaps and monitor the operational landfills.

Petite Bacnure heap: thermal photo and image

The WebGIS interfaces integrate geodata and allow its visualisation, standardisation, centralisation, cross-referencing and sharing for public and private use: citizens, administrations, policy decision-makers, scientists, institutions involved in land development.


The CTG manages the scientific part of result 3 of the Irrigation Development Support Programme (PADI) in Burkina-Faso. In the context of a project financed by Wallonie Bruxelles International (WBI), the department supports the Directorate General of Agricultural Development and Irrigation Development in the field of irrigation water retention management (bathymetry, assessment, and planning system) and sediment inputs, soil erosion and the drafting of integrated watershed management plans. (awaiting link to website)

Radio-controlled bathymetric drone         –           Training for local groups         –        School site in Burkina Faso


  • Context

Well aware of the interest in space, 10 years ago the Walloon region launched the ERA-STAR programme to coordinate and bring together the driving forces of remote detection in European regions. The Directorate General of Walloon Research was the leader of this project, which was then taken over by the Midi-Pyrénées region under the NEREUS label. This regional association aims to promote and organise a network of initiatives and projects comprising private companies, universities, and research centres. Despite its involvement in the beginning, the Walloon administration has withdrawn from the management of this network and transferred its role to the SKYWIN competitiveness hub, which asked for a contribution from ISSeP to represent the administration in this network. Through recurring contracts with the Skywin hub, from 2014, the ISSeP decided to create a link between the Walloon administration and international earth observation stakeholders, and thus pass on the needs of the administration to innovate, simplify and bring together (DPR2014), and develop international research and the institute’s visibility, specifically in ICT (information and communication technology).
2015 saw the deployment of European Sentinel satellites and the consolidation of the Copernicus programme from the European Commission. On 23 June, the “Sentinel-2” satellite provided multispectral images complementing the radar images provided by “Sentinel-1” since 2014. For the European Commission and the European Space Agency, this data provides essential information for monitoring territorial policies.  Research efforts to develop earth observation services must not be promoted in the use of these services by local authorities. Wallonia has extensive know-how in the space sector, but this is distributed between research institutes, private companies, and universities. The ISSeP acts to pool actions for increased effectiveness. Wanting to involve Wallonia in the European dynamic, Minister C Di Antonio supported the ISSeP’s approach to organise two events in 2015 co-organised with the Skywin competitiveness hub to inform the regional authorities of the opportunities offered by satellite data.

  • Missions

European, federal and Walloon research programmes concerning remote detection, environment, climate change and health recommend the use of space and satellite data. In its scientific watch role, the ISSeP can facilitate access to information for the administration in the sector.
The creation of the transverse CTG department was proposed to the ISSeP’s management committee in late 2015. On 23/10, the conference entitled “Satellite data in Wallonia 4.0” brought together over 50 participants and inaugurated a space pooling dynamic within the GT EO organised by the ISSeP and the SKYWIN hub and the GT COWAL launched subsequently within the administration. The roles of this department are as follows:

  • To develop internal technical expertise
    • To acquire infrastructures (Pleiades, Aster, Lider and software data)
    • To develop pilot studies for using these techniques: (Conservation of equatorial forests or REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, heaps – geostability and thermal analysis, 3D in cities, air circulation and habitat densification, population evolution, spatial pollution analysis)
  • To establish opportunities and priorities in the space and satellite sector: to establish networks and international collaborations
  • Actions:
    • Co-organisation of a sessions specialising in the administration’s needs during Space Days 2014,
    • GT EO at the ISSeP 05/2014, workshop on 23/10/2015 and organisation of 3 workshops in 2015 and 2016,
    • Participation in the creation of the GT COWAL in 2016 to consider the use of remote detection within the administration and OIPs
    • Participation in workshops relating to the geomatic operational plan from the Walloon public services, an observing member of the strategic geomatic committee.
    • Co-organisation of a workshop AM/FM-Gis (06/2014) and participation in conferences in 2015 and 2016
    • Participation in a Nereus/ESA project and presentations during conferences in Munich (11/2015) and at the European Parliament (28/06/2016)
    • Participations in the results capitalisation and sharing workshop of PADI in Ouagadougou (Burkina-Faso, 14-15/11/2016)
    • Participation in international conferences (European Geosciences Union –EGU- (Vienna), International Conference on Geographic Information Systems –ICGIS- (Paris), European
    • Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories –EARSEL- (Stockholm), ISPRS Geospatial Week (Montpellier)) and in Wallonia