EU Science Hub

First Global Human Settlement Workshop

Oct 20 2014
Oct 22 2014

The JRC is launching the Global Human Settlement Workshop Series as a biannual workshop to promote a global observatory of human settlements. This three day event will bring together institutions that are already contributing to the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) initiative, analysts that are using the settlement information in their models, or are interested to add it in their toolbox, scientists working on global settlement analysis and remote sensing and institutional stakeholders supporting programmes related to global or regional human settlement information.



Although a plethora of satellites is observing our planet with different spectral, spatial, and temporal resolutions none of them is specifically dedicated to the monitoring of the built environment. This is surprising given the importance of monitoring the dramatic increase of built environment following the nowadays exponential growth of population. The size and characteristics of built environment affects the sustainability of our societies, the well-being as well as the security and safety of the people living there. Yet, the global status of the built environment is not documented with a detail to be used for decision making and modelling. Current maps provide global built-up areas and population at coarse scale not fully suitable to understanding the impact on the flux of resources, risk to disasters and potential negative effects of climate change.  This information lack is due to the difficulty of the global fine-scale automatic image information retrieval tasks: the heterogeneity and local variability of human settlements, and the amount and complexity of data that needs to be analysed to derive a fine scale representation of the global built environment.

However, new information extraction technology allows today to mine the massive image data archives to generate information that reveal patterns of settlements, sizes of urban areas, quality of the built environment and their changes over time.

In the last years, the JRC has been developing tools to produce a Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL). It proposes a new way to map, monitor and analyse human settlements and the urbanization in the 21st century. The GHSL integrates various sources describing global human settlements with new information extracted from remotely sensed (RS) imagery. The GHSL automatic image information extraction workflow integrates multi-resolution, multi-sensor, and multi-temporal image data. The GHSL is an evolutionary and collaborative system. It aims to complete the fine-scale GHSL by offering free services of image information retrieval in the frame of collaborative and derived-contents sharing agreements.

For further information, please contact Thomas Kemper (name.surname at