New Enabling Technologies to Observe and Characterise Urban Environments with Big Data from Space – the Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform

Palacios, Daniela and Marconcini, Mattia and Zeidler, Julian and Balhar, Jakub and Boettcher, Martin and Boissier, Enguerran and Mathot, Emmanuel and Svaton, Vaclav and Esch, Thomas (2018) New Enabling Technologies to Observe and Characterise Urban Environments with Big Data from Space – the Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform. REAL CORP 2018 – EXPANDING CITIES – DIMINISHING SPACE. Are “Smart Cities” the solution or part of the problem of continuous urbanisation around the globe? Proceedings of 23rd International Conference on Urban Planning, Regional Development and Information. pp. 315-319. ISSN 2521-3938

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Modern Earth Observation (EO) satellite missions provide valuable opportunities to support sustainable urban planning and management by delivering dedicated information on the spatiotemporal development of the built environment and its key morphological and physical characteristics such as imperviousness, greenness, built-up density, building volume, albedo – from global down to local scale. However, the transformation of the raw EO imagery into ready-to-use thematic data and indicators for scientist or planners on the one hand and actionable information for decision makers on the other hand requires detailed technical expert knowledge. Moreover, the imagery collected by satellite missions such as the US Landsat program or the European fleet of Sentinel satellites, but also by airborne systems or drones, rapidly adds up to a multiple of the data volume that can effectively be handled with standard work stations and software solutions. Hence, this contribution introduces the Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform ( that utilizes modern information and communication technology to bridge the gap between the mass data collections of the technology-driven EO sector and the demand of science, planning, and policy for up-to-date information on the status, properties and dynamics of the urban system. Key components of the Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform (U-TEP) are an open, web-based portal that is connected to distributed high-level computing clusters and clouds and that also provides key functionalities for i) high-performance data access, analysis and visualization, ii) customized development and sharing of algorithms, products and services, and iii) networking, communication and exchange of data and information. The overarching objective here is to enable any interested (non-expert) user to easily generate actionable indicators and information for effective sustainable urban development based on a joint analysis of various data sources such as official survey data, EO mission data, socio-economic statistics, and data collected via social media or citizen science. So far more than 3.5 PB of data have been processed and analyzed by means of the U-TEP to finally provide a broad spectrum of urban information products and related services for visualization and analytics that have yet successfully been used by more than 240 institutions (science, planning, NGOs, policy) from 41 countries (i.a. World Bank Group, United Nations, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Food Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Group on Earth Observation, Global Platform for Sustainable Cities).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: information and knowledge sharing, enabling tools, urban monitoring, earth observation, urban thematic exploitation platform
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2018 19:36
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2018 19:36

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