Pixel vs object-based image classification techniques for LiDAR intensity data

Nagwa El-Ashmawy, Ahmed Shaker, Wai Yeung Yan

Research output: Journal article publicationConference articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems are remote sensing techniques used mainly for terrain surface modelling. LiDAR sensors record the distance between the sensor and the targets (range data) with a capability to record the strength of the backscatter energy reflected from the targets (intensity data). The LiDAR sensors use the near-infrared spectrum range which provides high separability in the reflected energy by the target. This phenomenon is investigated to use the LiDAR intensity data for land-cover classification. The goal of this paper is to investigate and evaluates the use of different image classification techniques applied on LiDAR intensity data for land cover classification. The two techniques proposed are: a) Maximum likelihood classifier used as pixelbased classification technique; and b) Image segmentation used as object-based classification technique. A study area covers an urban district in Burnaby, British Colombia, Canada, is selected to test the different classification techniques for extracting four feature classes: buildings, roads and parking areas, trees, and low vegetation (grass) areas, from the LiDAR intensity data. Generally, the results show that LiDAR intensity data can be used for land cover classification. An overall accuracy of 63.5% can be achieved using the pixel-based classification technique. The overall accuracy of the results is improved to 68% using the objectbased classification technique. Further research is underway to investigate different criteria for segmentation process and to refine the design of the object-based classification algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives
Issue number5W12
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventISPRS Calgary 2011 Workshop on Laser Scanning - Calgary, Canada
Duration: 29 Aug 201131 Aug 2011


  • Decision tree
  • Intensity data
  • LiDAR
  • Object-based classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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