Detecting Illegal Construction in Hazard-Prone Areas

Thanks to OneAtlas, the operator enhances public safety by keeping areas downstream from its dams free of illegal settlements - without performing on-site inspections.


An operator of hydroelectric dams needs to locate illegal homes built downstream from its facilities.
Following two dangerous collapses of mining dams, a major energy provider of the country has taken the extraordinary steps of relying on satellite imagery to ensure public safety around its hydroelectric dams. 

It is illegal in this nation for homes and other structures to be built within a certain proximity to a dam on its downstream side. Such structures would be swept away with destructive results should the dam fail.
Construction of small shacks, however, occur in these danger zones, which are extremely remote, often heavily vegetated, and usually not accessible by road. Patrolling these downstream dam areas would be extremely time-consuming and expensive.

After witnessing the violent downstream impacts of the mine dam disasters, the hydroelectric operator sought a cost-effective yet reliable method to monitor its own dams.



Earth Monitor detects new structures so that authorities can determine if they have been built illegally in danger zones near dam sites so occupants can be relocated. 

1. Subscribe to Earth Monitor

Case study

The hydroelectric company subscribed to the OneAtlas Analytics Capabilities service to detect illegal structures built near its many hydroelectric dams across the country.

2. Run the Algorithm

Case study

The Pléiades and SPOT satellites capture optical images of the dams at 0.5m and 1.5m resolution periodically. An automated workflow is activated upon each new acquisition, and the imagery is automatically analysed using Artificial Intelligence techniques to analyse the imagery and identify shacks and dwellings constructed of any materials in the dam area.

3. Get Insights

Case study

Earth Monitor determines when new structures appear and alerts the operator so that a team can be dispatched to the site. Inhabitants of the dwellings are informed that they are trespassing in a dangerous area and encouraged to move to a safer location.

4. Download the Report

Case study

On a monthly basis, Earth Monitor provides a statistical report detailing the total number and locations of structures built illegally near each dam site


The company has improved the public safety of its hydroelectric dams spread across an expansive and remote region without the considerable expense of mobilising personnel to patrol the areas.


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