Infrastructure Malta is launching a nationwide drone-powered aerial survey to develop a new orthophoto map database analysing the condition of all roads in Malta and Gozo.
Through this study, which will be completed by summer, the agency is obtaining a detailed analysis of Maltese roads that will support the implementation of its seven-year, €700 million road upgrade launched earlier this year, as well as ongoing routine maintenance and other future projects.
Aerial photos of over 2,500 kilometres of roads in Malta and Gozo will be captured by specialised drones during the next few weeks, starting from the northern parts of Malta. These images will then be processed to develop a new Geographic Information System (GIS) containing orthophoto maps of Malta’s road network as well as digital road surface models, road condition and damage data that can be used to establish reconstruction prioritisation levels. This interactive system will gradually continue to be updated with more technical details to augment its functionality to Infrastructure Malta’s planning and implementation teams.
The photos captured by the drone will be restricted to road areas and their immediate surroundings, and no personal identifiable data will be collected, in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Each flight is being planned in close collaboration with Transport Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate, which is reviewing and approving all plans and procedures. The fixed-wing drones being used in this study are equipped with multiple safety features, to ensure the safety of road users and adjacent properties. Experienced drone operators are planning flights seven days in advance, taking into consideration weather patterns, road use, the complexity of natural and artificial physical features in the area being surveyed, and other factors.
Ing. Fredrick Azzopardi, Infrastructure Malta’s Chief Executive Officer explained that a few months after it was established, the agency is already implementing major investments to carry out urgently-required upgrades in arterial roads, and to reconstruct hundreds of residential and rural roads. “This new database provides us with an important tool to consolidate the implementation of our ongoing projects and the planning of future investments. The road condition assessments that we are conducting as part of this survey, along with other studies, will help us pinpoint areas that we will need to prioritise in coming years.”
“Through this survey, we will be developing an interactive database of the surface conditions of all roads. We will continue updating this system with data from other sources to maintain a comprehensive analysis of Malta’s road infrastructure. It will also serve as a baseline when assessing the durability and effectiveness of different road construction and maintenance methods along the years,” Ing. Azzopardi explained.
Source: Infrastructure Malta