Developing research collaborations in Kyoto and Hong Kong

From March-July 2023, post-doctoral researcher, Joss Qiaosi Li visited Kyoto University in Japan, with support from UBDC, and the University of Hong Kong, on an early career mobility scheme (ECMS), to develop research collaborations in the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) in urban environment studies.

At Kyoto University, Joss met Professor Jan-Dirk Schmoecker (Transportation) and Professor Junichi Susaki’s (Geoinformatic Lab) teams and delivered a talk about UBDC’s LiDAR 3D city model and introduced the Centre’s data. She also learned more about their previous LiDAR research and the current research with DSM extraction by photogrammetry. Prof. Jan-Dirk Schmoecker is also conducting research using social media location data to understand the urban activity distribution.

At the University of Hong Kong, Joss discussed her work with Professor Timothy C. Bonebrake, whose research interests include tropical climate change impacts and urban biodiversity and Assistant Professor Hongsheng Zhang whose research focuses on incorporating multiple remote sensing technologies to understand the urbanization process and its environmental and ecological impacts.

She said: “I gave a talk to Assistant Professor Zhang’s team to present our latest work on applying LiDAR data to construct a Glasgow 3D model. We discussed potential collaboration on mutual research interests and would like to develop a long-term research partnership on urban green research with remote sensing technology. The ongoing collaboration will apply airborne LiDAR data to construct 3D tree models and estimate the green volume.

“I also discussed combing remote sensing in native ecology study in Hong Kong with Professor Bonebrake’s team. I shared the method and code to generate vegetated parameters from LiDAR data. Our LiDAR and night-time light data are being used in the ongoing project of investigation of pangolin distribution and activities in Hong Kong.”

Joss has multiple ongoing collaborative projects with the University of Hong Kong including ‘Urban green 3D model construction and volume estimation from airborne LiDAR data’ working with Assistant Professor Zhang. “I will lead this project” said Joss “with data collection, methodology design, and analysis. The work is still in progress, we will draft a manuscript as an original research paper and submit it to the peer review journal.”

Joss (fifth right in photo) conducted fieldwork in two parks of Hong Kong, Jordan Valley Park, and Lai Chi Kok Park. Tree parameters - including location, tree height, diameter at breast height, branch height, and leaf area index - were collected. These data can be used to validate results in volume estimation and 3D model construction. The fieldwork experience established best practices for tree parameters collection and more data can be collected as needed in both Hong Kong and Glasgow in the future.

“I am also collaborating with Professor Bonebrake’s lab. My contribution will provide the remote sensing methodology and analysed data to offer the essential source for Hong Kong's local ecology study, including the pangolin habitat study, the impact of light pollution on butterflies’ distribution, and the bat study. During the visit, I also refined our earlier collaborative paper about the impact of disturbance on mangroves.”

While based in Hong Kong, Joss was able to meet researchers from other institutes to exchange ideas and discuss potential collaboration: “Meeting Assistant Professor Bo Yang in Department of Computing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, we discussed the research gaps of point cloud analysis between the fields of computer vision and remote sensing. I obtained valuable suggestions for making LiDAR point cloud datasets and LiDAR data processing for tree segmentation and 3D building construction task.  

“I managed to visit the Civil Engineering and Development Department of Hong Kong Government to join the presentation of land-cover classification from UAV LiDAR data and gained more experience of UAV-data collection, data processing, and deliverable generation from their project.

“And I met with our current collaborator, Assistant Professor Fan Zhang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to discuss building energy-efficient research.”

Building research partnerships with two groups in HKU in ecology study and the urban remote sensing study and developing long-term research collaboration in remote sensing, urban ecology, and urban green, the study visits have been very productive. Joss concludes: “I learned a lot from this visiting experience e.g., inner-lab and joint-lab cooperation, fieldwork experience, manuscript drafting and refining, brainstorming for research, and communication skills. I was inspired to devote myself to working with remote sensing applications and developing wide cooperation with multidisciplinary labs. I hope to help facilitate further collaboration with HKU and other universities in Hong Kong in the future.”

Dr Qunshan Zhao, Senior Lecturer in Urban Analytics said:

"As the lead of the Urban Sensing research work stream in UBDC, I was more than happy to see Joss visit Japan and Hong Kong during the summer. This will bring in new future collaboration between Japan and UK in the Urban Analytics domain and strengthen the existing university-level collaboration between HKU and UoG. We would be very keen to apply future research fundings and work on joint-publication in the near future."

UBDC and Joss Qiaosi Li would to like to thank the University of Glasgow's Early Career Mobility Scheme for making this collaboration-building trip possible.

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