A Hybrid GWR-Based Height Estimation Method for Building Detection in Urban Environments
LiDAR has become important data sources in urban modelling. Traditional methods of LiDAR data processing for building detection require high spatial resolution data and sophisticated methods. The aerial photos, on the other hand, provide continuous spectral information of buildings. But the segmentation of the aerial photos cannot distinguish between the road surfaces and the building roof. This paper develops a geographically weighted regression (GWR)-based method to identify buildings. The method integrates characteristics derived from the sparse LiDAR data and from aerial photos. In the GWR model, LiDAR data provide the height information of spatial objects which is the dependent variable, while the brightness values from multiple bands of the aerial photo serve as the independent variables. The proposed method can thus estimate the height at each pixel from values of its surrounding pixels with consideration of the distances between the pixels and similarities between their brightness values. Clusters of contiguous pixels with higher estimated height values distinguish themselves from surrounding roads or other surfaces. A case study is conducted to evaluate the performance of the proposed method. It is found that the accuracy of the proposed hybrid method is better than those by image classification of aerial photos along or by height extraction of LiDAR data alone. We argue that this simple and effective method can be very useful for automatic detection of buildings in urban areas.