Geoinformatics is a rapidly growing field, and the mastery of its methods and materials is extensively needed at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, and also more broadly at the University of Eastern Finland, as well as in the field’s research institutes, companies and public-sector service and administrative organisations.
Geoinformatics (GI) comprises geographic information and remote sensing systems, geospatial modelling, statistical analyses, information systems design and maintenance, and materials and devices. It is a key area of expertise at the University of Eastern Finland in geographical sciences and forest sciences, and also extensively used in other fields such as environmental sciences and biosciences, health sciences, law and statistics, and at the Karelian Institute.
The UEF GI infrastructure is linked to the national CSC-GI set of infrastructure; CSC computing services is responsible for the distribution of software and materials (not for costs). The current UEF GI software infrastructure comprises commercial software (ArcGIS, ERDAS, eGognition and Tuflow), as well as open source software (such as R, QGIS, Deflt3D); these software platforms supplement one another.
The Paituli service administered by CSC provides access to a broad range of geographic information materials; however, top-level research often requires the use of commercial, specialised software. The GI infrastructure of the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies has also been developed within the Open Geospatial Information Infrastructure for Research, oGIIR, which is an infrastructure project of the Academy of Finland. Devices for making field observations are a central part of the GI infrastructure: they provide detailed, location-specific observations of soil and vegetation, and of the related phenomena and processes. The observation devices create two distinct components: terrestrial and aquatic observation devices.
The devices included in the infrastructure of the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies at the University of Eastern Finland include precision GPS devices (RTK-GPS), a field spectrometer, and a ground-penetrating radar (GPR). Terrestrial observation devices include airborne unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with integrated cameras and a virtual reference station, VRS-GPS. High-end Ebee fixed wing and Matrice 210 drones were purchased with oGIIR funding in 2017-18. UAS aerial imaging has been further developed with the purchase of a top-level hyperspectral camera (FX10, Specim Ltd), a UAS aerial camera (Micasense Rededge M) and a FLIR sensor (Zenmuse XT2) that utilises thermal infrared radiation. These sensors represent state-of-the-art remote sensing technology and they have a broad application potential in research. Field imaging with UAS also involves collaboration with UEF’s imaging laboratory and ecology research, water technology at the University of Oulu, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the University of Turku, the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Environment Institute.
Among recent investments is a terrestrial laser scanner (TLS). Available for the TLS scanner, accurate surface measurements are needed for remote sensing verification, modelling, flood sensing, biological applications and forest remote sensing alike.
Aquatic observation devices include a shallow water ice profilers (SWIP, 2 pieces), a radar-based flow observation station (Q-30, Sommer) and an acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP, Sontek, M9) that is also capable of echo-sounding. The SWIP and RQ-30 sensors allow for continuous observations of river ice (frazil ice, ice cover, ice dams), flow rate and flow velocity. ADCP, on the other hand, enables 3D flow and river bed topography measurements in lake, river and sea environments in the entire column of water. Also available are water level and barometric pressure sensors (Solinst leve and barologger), water quality sensors (YSI Pro-DSS, Photometer), soil humidity and temperature sensors (HOBO), and sensors observing sediment transport (Helley-Smith, Bunte type bed load samplers).