Drone Training at Knust in Kumasi, Ghana

In November 2018, HiView’s operational manager Jan van Til was in Ghana to facilitate a Flying Sensor training for the Transforming Weather Water data into value-added Information services for sustainable Growth in Africa (TWIGA) project. Below is a blog from the TWIGA project site.

Eleven motivated participants. A Flying Sensor. A challenging task to perform. Perfect facilities (Mr. Isaac Duodu from Kumasi Business Incubator!) and right assistance (Mr. Joel Budu from Farmerline!). That`s what it takes to perform a week of training and finish it successfully.

Coming from different professional backgrounds most of the trainees did not know each other at the beginning. And that counts for me, the trainer, as well. At the end of the week, it felt like we were a group. Everybody going his or her own way again, but now with common experiences: piloting a drone, or a Flying Sensor (FS), as our TWIGA consortium FutureWater-HiView has doped it and processing the images that come from the FSs.

So everything went well? No incidents? No crashes? Nobody absent for a longer time?

Indeed! Okay, we had a leakage in the classroom -a room in the venue at the KNUST Uni- but our host Isaac (also partly present as a trainee) got rid of that small inconvenience. Also, there was some noise from construction works on the venue building being renovated, but no major issues. We had a very good and productive week!

Starting on Friday the 23rd of November, ending on Thursday 29th. There was quite a list of activities that were to be trained. There was a good balance between indoors and outdoors. We passed 3 days (partly) outside. It started on Friday, after the introduction in the venue, when we practiced manual pilot skills at the athletics court of the KNUST University. On Monday the automatic flying was on the program. The rehearsing of automatic flights was done on Tuesday and Wednesday. This took place at different spots in the previously identified area of interest, which was in the surroundings of Lake Road Bridge and the Agogo market, in Kumasi. In between the outdoors activities and on the final day, Thursday, the processing of the images from the FSs was on the program. The FS that was disposable had three different cameras: RGB (Red Green Blue, that is the normal visual cam), NIR (Near InfraRed) and IR (thermal).

The processing of the images derived from the three different cams resulted in producing geo-referenced orthomosaics and NDVI maps. With the help of such overviewing maps it is possible to detect crop stress, but also, more relevant in the urban situation, plastic waste or the water course in canals or rivers.

At FutureWater in Wageningen and at the TU Delft the in-depth interpretation of the aerial footage will take place, but in our classroom, the participants learned to deliver processing results within a week. In a way, I think this a good example of bridging the gap between the scientific treatment and the first in-field treatment of the data and showing that both stages are needed and useful. Personnel on the ground should dispose of basic knowledge of the data quality and the possible applications in order to communicate about it with either clients or experts at the same time.

Apart from piloting and processing, we had quite long strolls in the area of interest to perform other tasks: doing ground validation by making pictures of the surroundings (often related to the plastic waste sites and flood-prone sites) and by measuring ground control points (needed for DEMs). We visited a farmer who has to deal with flooding every year. So, with all the hikes in the field, we also took care of our condition. I`d like to thank all participants and looking forward to the next encounter!