Mapping Electric Transmission Line Infrastructure from Aerial Imagery with Deep Learning

TitleMapping Electric Transmission Line Infrastructure from Aerial Imagery with Deep Learning
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsW Hu, B Alexander, W Cathcart, A Hu, V Nair, L Zuo, J Malof, L Collins, and K Bradbury
Conference NameInternational Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (Igarss)
Date Published09/2020

Access to electricity positively correlates with many beneficial socioeconomic outcomes in the developing world including improvements in education, health, and poverty. Efficient planning for electricity access requires information on the location of existing electric transmission and distribution infrastructure; however, the data on existing infrastructure is often unavailable or expensive. We propose a deep learning based method to automatically detect electric transmission infrastructure from aerial imagery and quantify those results with traditional object detection performance metrics. In addition, we explore two challenges to applying these techniques at scale: (1) how models trained on particular geographies generalize to other locations and (2) how the spatial resolution of imagery impacts infrastructure detection accuracy. Our approach results in object detection performance with an F1 score of 0.53 (0.47 precision and 0.60 recall). Using training data that includes more diverse geographies improves performance across the 4 geographies that we examined. Image resolution significantly impacts object detection performance and decreases precipitously as the image resolution decreases.