What is Remote Sensing? Remote Sensing Applications Types of Remote Sensing

What is Remote Sensing? Remote Sensing Applications Types of Remote Sensing

What is Remote Sensing?

Remote sensing is the practice of detecting and monitoring an area’s physical features from a distance by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation (typically from satellite or aircraft).

Remotely sensed photos are collected by special cameras, allowing researchers to “sense” facts about the Earth.

Therefore, it is a branch of remote sensing that deals with observations and analysis of environmental conditions. The use of remotely sensed data to assess and monitor environmental changes is widespread.

Remote Sensing applications can be divided into remote imaging, interpretation, detection, and processing, which provides an understanding of natural or physical hazards as well as being able to predict the impacts on society.

A more recent development has been the application of remote sensing in decision-making in terms of how it affects people’s well-being.

Remote Sensing Fundamentals

The principles of remote sensing are fundamental to the application of remotely sensed data to analysis and prediction.

Remote sensing is about acquiring and measuring spatial information; however, this SIM or knowledge can be used to make predictions or assessments of nature or land uses.

Remote sensed data is acquired from sensors placed on platforms in the air, on the ground, or in space. The platforms are used to collect information about the environment and this information is usually stored on computer databases

Remote sensing equipment is used by scientists, engineers, and other professionals who need to study the world, understand natural processes, and make changes in industries, personal health, and land use.

They use remote sensing data for studies such as aeronautical engineering, archaeology, ecology, hydrology, and land management.

Types of Remote Sensing

Active sensor-

The sensor, like a satellite outfitted with a RADAR sensor, contains the source of light. Active sensors generate their own energy in order to scan the item. Active remote sensing techniques such as RADAR and LiDAR measure the time delay between emission and return.

Passive sensor

The sensors collect radiation produced or reflected by the item or its surroundings. The most prevalent source of radiation recorded by passive sensors is sunlight reflection.

Photography, infrared, and radiometers are examples of passive remote sensors. Passive sensors are more commonly utilized since they produce high-quality satellite pictures.

In the sphere of technological observation of the planet, such as Multispectral and Hyperspectral technologies, the passive sensor is preferable.

Remote Sensing Application in Agriculture

The application of remote sensing to agriculture is a relatively new field, but it has already had an impact on the way crops are grown and managed.

Remote sensing data is effectively used in agriculture to monitor plant growth, crop development, and phenological cycles.

Remote sensing can be used for example:

  1. Monitoring crop health- Field sensors can be used to detect crop health and methods of management.
  2. Monitoring propagation– Fresh and dry seeds, seeds, cuttings, and plants intended for commercialization can also be monitored by remote sensing.
  3. Monitoring phenological cycle- Remotely sensed data used to monitor the phenological cycle of crops and trees played a major role in helping farmers avoid diseases.
  4. Giving advice on planting dates- Information is used to give planting advice on when to plant-based on optimal conditions.
  5. Agriculture pest management- Pesticides, fungicides, and other agents are applied in agriculture and the effects of these can be monitored.
  6. Anticipating weather patterns- Remote sensing data is used for forecasting and indicating weather patterns.
  7. Organization of resources- Remote sensing data detected does not allow for the organization of resources to maximize efficiency. Organizing farmers into economic units is a less expensive alternative.
  8. Precision agriculture – Remote sensing data can be used to monitor the effectiveness of local agricultural practices.

Remote Sensing Application in Recruitment & Human Resources Management

Sourcing and recruitment are significant parts of business operations and many companies use remote sensing for this purpose.

Human resources are also recruited through remote sensing for example through on-line applications like LinkedIn or Monster.com where their CVs can be seen on a remote map.

Remote sensing recruitment can be used in the following areas:

  1. Organizing the work force- Remote sensing data can be used to see where there is a need for employees and to organize them in these areas.
  2. Aptitude tests- Aptitude tests are automated and then remotely analyzed. Automated aptitude tests are used to predict candidates’ responses based on previous data, which is then mapped and analyzed to simulate real situations.
  3. Exploiting talents in a specific area- Remotely sensed data can be used to identify employees with specific talents and who possess the skills required.
  4. Determining the location of employees- The geographical location of employees can be determined by analyzing remotely sensed data.

Remote Sensing Application in Law Enforcement & Military Operations

Military and law enforcement use remote sensing in investigations, intelligence, and operations. Remote sensing data can be used to map targets and criminals or even areas that are being observed.

Military and law enforcement uses include:

  1. Identifying terrorist cells- Terrorist cells can be identified through remote sensing data.
  2. Mapping & surveillance of criminal activities- Remotely sensed data is used to monitor areas where drug trafficking, illegal logging, and other illegal activities take place.

Remote Sensing Application in Education

Remote sensing plays an important role in the education sector.

It can be used in the following areas:

  • Distance learning- programs, tutorials, and lectures are provided remotely to students. Distance learning, also known as e-Learning, is available to all students regardless of nationality.
  • Quality assessment of educational institutions- Remotely sensed data is used to assess the quality of education in schools and universities.

Remote Sensing Application in the Energy Sector

Energy is a crucial industry that presents many challenges for society; these include the depletion of natural resources, pollution, and climate change.

To counter these challenges, efforts are being made to develop renewable energy, reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency.

Remote sensing support to the energy sector is essential in many ways. Application of remote sensing data in the energy sector can include the following:

  1. Mapping of resources- Remotely sensed data is used for the mapping of resources. For example, oil reserves and areas with natural gas, coal, and other minerals are mapped.
  2. Geographical mapping- Remotely sensed data can be used to determine the geographical location of sources. For example, it can be used to measure how far away a source is from population centers and other energy infrastructure.
  3. Determining energy intensity- Measuring the energy intensity of different resources can help in making better decisions on how to manage them.
  4. Allocating resources- Remotely sensed data is used for allocating resources. For example, areas that are more suitable for solar power plants are determined by analyzing remotely sensed data and then building a facility there.
  5. Mapping emissions- Emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources are mapped using remotely sensed data.

Remote Sensing Application in Environmental Health

In environmental health, remote sensing is used for mapping soil conditions and compiling information on microbial processes.

Remote sensing allows scientists to monitor crop uptake of vital nutrients, temperature, and light as these are essential for distribution over time. Remote sensing can also be used to determine how much water an area holds to be efficient and cost-effective.

Remote Sensing Application in Social Science

Remote sensing is applied to social science in two ways. It can be used to map social phenomena, such as crime and population density, or it can be used to measure their effects remotely.

Measuring the effects of natural disasters- Remotely sensed data can be used to assess the disaster impacts on a community. For example, it allows for the mapping of damaged property and other damages like landslides and floods.

Remote Sensing Application in Marketing

Remote sensing is used for marketing in two ways. It can be used to track the success of marketing campaigns, and then to take into account the feedback from those who have been exposed to the campaigns.

Remote sensing data is also used for tracking social media buzz over a period of time.

Remote Sensing Application in Tourism

Tourism is an industry that needs remote sensing and lots of it as many facilities need visual inspection to ensure that they are safe for tourists.

Remote Sensing Application in Disaster Management

Remote Disaster management is one of the most important applications of remote sensing. Remote sensing data can be used to monitor various characteristics of the earth such as:

  1. Water Damaged areas- Remote sensing data can be used to assess the amount of damage and a prediction can be made regarding recovery.
  2. Population distribution- Remotely sensed data is used to map population distributions.
  3. Disaster Type Detection– Remotely sensed data is used to detect certain disaster types and intensities, like tsunamis or earthquakes which occur periodically in many countries.

Sensing has been used to mitigate the risk of disasters for a long time. Remote sensing allows early identification and research of possible disasters.

The advantage of remote sensing is improved efficiency and speed during disaster management. For example, if we use remote sensing to monitor Hurricane Katrina before it strikes, it will give time to act swiftly when tragedy strikes.

A recent example, where the technology was useful in managing disaster response, is Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Remote sensing allowed fast identification of the areas at risk from landslides. This enabled rapid rescue and recovery efforts with minimal loss of human life.

Remote Sensing in Weather

Remote sensing is useful in measuring and monitoring weather conditions. It can be used to detect weather phenomena, forecast weather changes and even predict the intensity of a storm.

Remote sensing data can be used to monitor air quality, radiation intensity, and other aspects that affect the health of humans.

Many satellites such as NOAA-20, NOAA-10, Landsat-7, and even 1st generation satellites such as Corona collected data over land and sea areas thereby making possible the application of Remote Sensing in Forestry.

Remote sensing has been used in forestry management for many years, providing valuable information on forests.

Remotely sensed parameters include:

  • Evaluating forest condition- The information collected with the help of remote sensing is used to evaluate the forest condition and to predict their growth.
  • Monitoring of deforestation- Remote sensing is used to monitor deforestation and illegal logging.
  • Detecting forest fires- Remotely sensed data is also used for detecting forest fires that occur in many countries.

Remote Sensing in Biodiversity

Remote sensing is used in biodiversity and habitat conservation. The main use of remote sensing in biodiversity is to monitor invasive species and to detect the changes that have occurred in habitats.

Remotely sensed data is useful for monitoring habitats because it allows for a comprehensive view of an ecosystem or region.

Thus, it is possible to detect changes in the ecosystem and find out how to prevent changes from occurring.

Remote sensing can also be used for tracking species that are vulnerable to extinction and even for mapping gene flow.

Remote Sensing’s increased availability has led to a significant increase in the applications of this technology.

Today, most of the activities are being taken up with its help. It is mainly due to the technological advancements that remote sensing technology has become an important tool for many industries.

Some of the new fields that have emerged recently are:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, the new generation of remote sensing technology is based on machine vision which provides higher accuracy than is possible by a human.
  • Autonomous systems are expected to play an important role in remote sensing technology, in future.
  • Remote Sensing in Locating construction and building alteration
  • In various nations, including Greece, Athens, and others, tax collection departments employ satellite data. This technique is used to detect signals of wealth. There were 15000 swimming pools (unclaimed to steal taxes) in those nations early in 2013.


What are the advantages of remote sensing technology?

Remote sensing technology is useful in detecting changes on the earth’s surface and monitoring areas that are difficult to reach. It is also useful in studying natural phenomena such as vegetation, weather, etc.

What are the different applications of remotely sensed data?

Much information can be obtained with the help of remotely sensed data, like vegetation characteristics, water quality, land cover type etc.

How can remote sensing be carried out?

Remotely sensed data is collected by satellites and other sources like aircraft, land and marine vehicles etc.

What is the difference between remote sensing and other forms of sensing?

Remote sensing differs from other means of sensing in that it is more accurate, faster, and easier to acquire. It uses a wide range of instruments such as cameras, sensors, radar, etc., to provide high-quality information.

What is the scope of remote sensing technology in the future?

The remote sensing technology will be very useful in the future because it can be used to monitor natural resources and also for disaster management, weather monitoring, and prediction, etc.

What are the risks involved in using remote sensing technology?

Remote sensing is a very powerful tool, but sometimes it poses certain risks. For example, unauthorized use of this technology and others. Therefore, it should be used with caution to avoid any damage.

 What is the importance of remote sensing technology in the construction industry?

Remote sensing technology has been widely used in the construction industry to monitor, plan and supervise project.

It helps in detecting any faults and correcting them before they become a reason for major problems. Hence, it helps in saving time, cost, and wastage of resources and materials.

How can remote sensing be used to measure biodiversity of an area?

Remote sensing data is used in studying the biodiversity of an area by detecting endangered species.

The technique can also be used in monitoring vegetation characteristics such as wind speed, soil type and composition etc.

How can we generate data that resembles remote sensing data?

Remotely sensed data can be generated by taking a set of images and then splitting them into a set of different regions each representing unique values like temperature, rainfall, forest size, etc.

If a grey-level image is considered, then we can use it to develop a high-quality image. How does distant sensing work?

Distant sensing uses the information collected by satellite or aircraft to produce an exact quantitative map of the earth’s surface without requiring any human involvement.

What is the difference between remote sensing and classical mapping?

Classical mapping involves the direct physical assessment of features on the ground surface, whereas remote sensing provides information about features from a distance.

What are the applications of remote sensing in construction activities?

Remote sensing is used in construction to measure the volume and area of earthworks, to detect land subsidence etc.

Why do we use remote sensing?

An object or object’s properties can be known by studying its appearance with a sensor (like camera).

In remote sensing technology, this collection is done from a distance with the help of satellites, aircraft, and other instruments that collect information about an object by detecting electromagnetic radiation emitted by it.

What types of sensors are available for remote sensing?

Some of the common types of sensors used in remote sensing include cameras and spectrometers.

How does remote sensing work?

To know about an object’s properties, it has to be studied with a sensor (like a camera).

In remote sensing technology, this collection is done from a distance with the help of satellites and other instruments that collect information about an object by detecting electromagnetic radiation emitted by it

What are the advantages of remote sensing?

Remote sensing has several advantages. One of its advantages is that it provides information without having to go there.

Other advantages include that it can be used in monitoring natural resources as well as atmospheric phenomena and monitoring areas that are difficult to reach with the help of other scientific instruments such as satellites and aircraft.

What is the Disadvantage of Remote Sensing?

The main disadvantage of remote sensing is that it cannot provide information to the user in real-time as it takes some time for the collected information to be transferred from the satellites.

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