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Innovators III SAR4URBAN

SAR for urbanisation monitoring

Development of novel services to reliably delineate maps of past and current extent of urban areas by means of ERS, ENVISAT and Sentinel-1 C-band SAR data, in response to requirements from the World Bank and the GEO Global Urban Observation and Information.

Innovators III SAR4URBAN
SAR for urbanisation monitoring
DUE (Data User Element)
€ 200k
Service Demonstration
In progress
ERS-1/2 : SAR
Sentinel 1 : C-SAR

From the beginning of the years 2000, more than half of the global human population is living in urban environments and the trend of urbanisation is growing at an unprecedented speed. In emerging economies, the urban population is expected to double in 30 years (2000-2030), adding 2 billion more people, with particular focus in South Asia and Africa.

Monitoring urbanisation over time is nowadays a challenging and pressing issue that is of paramount importance especially in developing countries where often no related information is available. This is needed by urban planning agencies, civil protection authorities, energy suppliers, UN-Habitat, FAO, development and investment banks, insurance companies, etc.

Nevertheless, so far no methodology is yet available to effectively delineate the extent of urban areas in a completely unsupervised way and on an operational basis.

SAR4URBAN aims at overcoming these shortcomings by proposing an innovative approach that inherits the features of the technique previously developed for the Global Urban Footprint, the currently most detailed global layer depicting built-up and non-built-up areas at 12m spatial resolution derived from TerraSAR-X and TanDEM- X imagery. The methodology will be adapted to C-band SAR data from ERS-2, ENVISAT and Sentinel 1. Innovative methods will be developed to work at different scales on archived ERS SAR and ENVISAT ASAR data and to fully exploit the high-resolution and high frequency acquisition capabilities of Sentinel-1, hence preparing the ground for a large scale exploitation of both archived and new C-band SAR data.

World Bank (WB), Washington, US :
Group on Earth Observation (GEO) secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland :
Center for Urban and Environmental Change, Indiana State University, US :
Athens City Authority, Greece :
Mexico City Authority, Mexico :
Beijing City Authority, China :
Dr. Ing. Mattia Marconcini DLR
Marc Paganini European Space Agency - ESRIN D/EOP-SEP Via Galileo Galilei I-00046 Frascati (RM) ITALY Tel: +39 06-941.80563 Fax: +39 06-941.80552 Email: