How ETH knowledge and local expertise are helping the reconstruction of Ukraine

January 26, 2024

“The extent of the destruction of infrastructure in Ukraine is almost unimaginable in Switzerland,” says Jonathan Banz, a scientific assistant to Andreas Wieser, Professor of Geosensors and Engineering Geodesy. The aim is to create an intuitive digital platform that provides independent information on the condition of Ukraine’s infrastructure. Roth and Banz are not the only ETH researchers investigating the consequences of the war for Ukraine’s infrastructure. Students, researchers and professors at ETH Zurich are using their expertise to help rebuild Ukraine. Rather than limiting itself to research projects, the exhibition also presents volunteer initiatives that are dedicated even now to the protection and reconstruction of buildings in Ukraine.

Not only is the war causing immeasurable human suffering, it is also destroying vast swathes of buildings, facilities and infrastructure. Cautious estimates suggest that restoring the destroyed homes, public buildings, industrial facilities, power grids, roads, infrastructure, forests and agricultural land will cost around 400 billion dollars. “The extent of the destruction of infrastructure in Ukraine is almost unimaginable in Switzerland,” says Jonathan Banz, a scientific assistant to Andreas Wieser, Professor of Geosensors and Engineering Geodesy. “We wanted to visualise both the destruction as well as ongoing projects to maintain and rebuild the infrastructure.”

Remote sensing provides facts on destruction and construction

Together with Basil Roth, Banz is in charge of an ETH research project, Mapping Ukraine, which is looking to document the effects of the war on Ukraine’s infrastructure and environment – using geoinformation, photos and videos – and create a basis for reconstruction. The aim is to create an intuitive digital platform that provides independent information on the condition of Ukraine’s infrastructure.

Roth and Banz are not the only ETH researchers investigating the consequences of the war for Ukraine’s infrastructure. In the group led by Konrad Schindler, Professor of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, for example, Olivier Dietrich is using artificial intelligence to analyse satellite images. This can take a rather blurred satellite image showing the city of Mariupol surrounding the Azovstal steelworks, which were besieged for weeks, and produce a map that clearly shows the heaps of rubble in Mariupol’s cityscape. Dietrich’s research is directly linked to Mapping Ukraine, and it is also part of the external pageEngineering for Humanitarian Action initiativecall_made together with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Students, researchers and professors at ETH Zurich are using their expertise to help rebuild Ukraine. Many of them are involved in external pageSwiss Network with Ukrainecall_made, which was founded by the ETH Professor Emeritus of Architecture and urban planner Kees Christiaanse, among others. To showcase these ongoing projects, researchers from the ETH Departments of Architecture and of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, in collaboration with the network and with the external pageUkrainian Association of Students and Academics in Zurichcall_made, have now organised the exhibition entitled “ETH with Ukraine – Exchanging Knowledge for a Sustainable and Resilient Future”.

A showcase for research and local projects

A good two years after the start of the war, the exhibition opened in the main hall of the ETH Main Building on Wednesday evening. It addresses various aspects of reconstruction such as housing, refurbishment and material supply, agriculture and energy, urban development and spatial planning as well as education and culture. Rather than limiting itself to research projects, the exhibition also presents volunteer initiatives that are dedicated even now to the protection and reconstruction of buildings in Ukraine.

The source of this news is from ETH Zurich

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