Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Airbus Logo

Defence and Space

Detecting illegal construction banner

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.

Our solution

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. 

Computer screen - Welcome to OneAtlas - Suscribe to Earth Monitor

1. Subscribe to Earth Monitor

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

Computer screen - run the algorithm on OneAtlas - Earth monitor

2. Run the Algorithm

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.

Computer screen - get insight on OneAtlas Earth Monitor

3. Get Insights

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.

Computer screen - Download report- OneAtlas Earth Monitor

4. Download the Report

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.

Free trial OneAtlas Earth Monitor

Would you like to try Earth Monitor?

Want to know more?

Our sales team will be happy to provide you more information about this case study and how it can meet your business needs.


See all our case studies

See all
SPOT satellite imagery - 1,5m resolution - Leuser Ecosystem, Indonesia
Forestry and Environment

Starling | Promoting green development in the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia

Our efforts in Aceh Tamiang have revolved around partnering with the government and aiding their efforts to implement a green development plan. 

SPOT, 1,5m resolution satellite imagery -  Amazon River, Peru
Forestry and Environment

Starling | Impacting the Amazon and other key landscapes in Peru

Our work in Peru started in 2015, when – with our support – Nestle approached supplier Grupo Palmas with regard to plans to plant oil palm on about 23,000 hectares of primary forest in the Peruvian Amazon.

SPOT, 1,5m resolution satellite imagery- Cavally Forest, Ivory Coast
Forestry and Environment

Starling | Regenerating the Cavally Forest in Ivory Coast

The Cavally Forest Reserve is one of the last intact forest reserves in Ivory Coast, the world’s top producer of cocoa. Most of this cocoa is grown by small farmers, and Ivory Coast has lost a significant amount of forests trying to meet global chocolate demand.