Satellite surveying of building stock in Sa’ana, capital of Yemen, for the European Community’s Global Human Settlements Layer; a new urban data contribution to GEO’s Global Earth Observation System of Systems project. (EC JRC.)

CITY INFORMATION MODELLING | The Group on Earth Observations in Geneva (GEO) has launched a new task on global urban observations and modelling in its 2012-2015 Workplan towards its Global Earth Observation System of Systems project.

Co-ordinated by Professor Qihao Weng of Indiana State University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Change, the project’s key priorities are:

—Conduct global urban analyses, including time series for assessing development of megacities (eg urban sprawl) and a worldwide inventory of human settlements based on satellite data.

—Create a global urban morphological database to better understand the impacts of global climate change.

—Define requirements for global urban monitoring and assessment in terms of data products and expectations for data validation, archiving, update and sharing.

The international task team includes researchers at Tsinghua University in China, the DLR in Germany, NASA, NOAA and the Indiana State University in the United States and IEEE members at the University of Pavia in Italy.

The team will focus on eight megacities: Athens, Atlanta, Beijing, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. They will provide optical, radar, thermal, night light and socio-economic data to help clarify six key challenges for governments: data management, disasters, health, climate, ecosystems and water.

Researchers aim to fill existing gaps in integrating global urban land observations with:

—Data that characterises urban ecosystems, built environments, air quality and carbon emissions.

—Indicators of population density, environmental quality and quality of life.

—Patterns of human environmental and infectious diseases.

GEO Director Barbara Ryan said the team would develop innovative concepts and techniques to support effective and sustainable urban development.