OBJECT-BASED IMAGE ANALYSIS FOR HISTORIC MAPS CLASSIFICATION
Heritage maps represent fundamental information for the study of the evolution of a region, especially in terms of landscape and ecologic features. Historical maps present two kinds of hurdle before they can be used in a modern GIS: they must be geometrically corrected to correspond to the datum in use and they must be classified to exploit the information they contain. This study deals the latter problem: the Historical Cadaster Map, created between 1851 and 1861, for the Trentino region in the North of Italy is available as a collection of maps in the ETRS89/UTM 32N datum. The map is a high resolution scan (230 DPI, 24 bit) of the original map and has been used in several ecological studies, since it provides detailed information not only about land property but also about land use. In the past the cadaster map has been manually digitized and for each area a set of attributes has been recorded. Since this approach is time consuming and prone to errors, automatic and semi-automatic procedures have been tested. Traditional image classification techniques, such as maximum likelihood classification, supervised or un-supervised, pixelwise and contextual, do not provide satisfactory results for many reasons: map colors are very variable within the same area, symbols and characters are used to identify cadaster parcels and locations, lines, drawn by hand on the original map, have variable thickness and colors. The availability of FOSS tools for the Object-based Image Analysis (OBIA) has made possible the application of this technique to the cadaster map. This paper describes the use of GRASS GIS and R for the implementation of the OBIA approach for the supervised classification of the historic cadaster map. It describes the determination of the optimal segments, the choice of their attributes and relevant statistics, and their classification. The result has been evaluated with respect to a manually digitized map using Cohens Kappa and the analysis of the confusion matrix. The result of the OBIA classification has also been compared to the classification of the same map using maximum likelihood classification, un-supervised and supervised, both pixelwise and contextual. The OBIA approach has provided very satisfactory results with the ability to automatically remove the background and symbols and characters, creating a ready to be used classified map. This study highlights the effectiveness of the OBIA processing chain available in the FOSS4G ecosystem, and in particular the added value of the interoperability between GRASS GIS and R.