Participatory sensing-based geospatial localization of distant objects for disaster preparedness in urban built environments

Hongjo Kim, Youngjib Ham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Although the benefit of participatory sensing for collecting local data over large areas has long been recognized, it has not been widely used for various applications such as disaster preparation due to a lack of geospatial localization capability with respect to a distant object. In such applications, objects of interest need to be robustly localized and documented for supporting data-driven decision-making in site inspection and resource mobilization. However, participatory sensing is inappropriate to localize a distant object due to the absence of ranging sensors in citizens' mobile devices; thus, the localization accuracy varies to a large extent. To address this issue, this study presents a novel geospatial localization method for distant objects based on participatory sensing. The proposed geospatial localization process consists of multiple computational modules—a geographic coordinate conversion, mean-shift clustering, deep learning-based object detection, magnetic declination adjustment, line of sight equation formulation, and the Moore-Penrose generalized inverse method—to improve the localization accuracy in participatory sensing environments. The experiments were conducted in Houston and College Station in Texas to evaluate the proposed method, and the experimental results demonstrated a reasonable localization accuracy, recording the distance errors of 1.5 m to 27.8 m when the distance from observers to the objects of interest were 17 m to 296 m. The proposed method is expected to contribute to rapid data collection over large urban areas, thereby facilitating disaster preparedness that needs to identify locations of distant objects at risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102960
JournalAutomation in Construction
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is in part based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under CMMI Award# 1832187 . Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agency.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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