Mapping drainage structures using airborne laser scanning by incorporating road centerline information

Chi Kuei Wang, Nadeem Fareed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Wide-area drainage structure (DS) mapping is of great concern, as many DSs are reaching the end of their design life and information on their location is usually absent. Recently, airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been proven useful for DS mapping through manual methods using ALS-derived digital elevation models (DEMs) and hillshade images. However, manual methods are slow and labor-intensive. To overcome these limitations, this paper proposes an automated DS mapping algorithm (DSMA) using classified ALS point clouds and road centerline information. The DSMA begins with removing ALS ground points within the buffer of the road centerlines; the size of the buffer varies according to different road classes. An ALS-modified DEM (ALS-mDEM) is then generated from the remaining ground points. A drainage network (DN) is derived from the ALS-mDEM. Candidate DSs are then obtained by intersecting the DN with the road centerlines. Finally, a refinement buffer of 15 m is placed around each candidate DS to prevent duplicate DS from being generated in close proximity. A total area of 50 km2, including an urban site and a rural site, in Vermont, USA, was used to assess the DSMA. Based on the road functional classification scheme of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the centerline information regarding FHWA roads was obtained from a public data portal. The centerline information on non-FHWA roads, i.e., private roads and streets, was derived from the impervious surface data of a land cover dataset. A benchmark DS dataset was gathered from the transport agency of Vermont and was further augmented using Google Earth Street View images by the authors. The one-to-one correspondence between the benchmark DS and mapped DS for these two sites was then established. The positional accuracy was assessed by computing the Euclidian distance between the benchmark DS and mapped DS. The mean positional accuracy for the urban site and rural site were 13.5 m and 15.8 m, respectively. F1-scores were calculated to assess the prediction accuracy. For FHWA roads, the F1-scores were 0.87 and 0.94 for the urban site and rural site, respectively. For non-FHWA roads, the F1-scores were 0.72 and 0.74 for the urban site and rural site, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number463
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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