A look at present and future key ecological, economic and social challenges usually reveals a direct or indirect link to urban areas and the human activities going on there and in their vicinity. Especially metropolitan areas are important economic, political, social and cultural centers because of their high population density and infrastructure. They also influence their natural and socio-economic environments even up to global levels. Urban areas consume large amounts of resources in the form of land, energy, raw materials and labor, turning them into a broad range of goods and services. In turn, the processes related to these products and economic cycles strongly influence the environment and society, both in positive and negative ways.
Already today more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and this global trend of urbanization continues at an increasing pace. Urban sprawl, high traffic density, social tensions, and the vulnerability of urban conglomerations to natural hazards such as earthquakes or storms are only some of the associated problems. But they reveal that sustainable management of the urban-suburban complex is essential to maintaining the many functions of human settlements. A key aspect of sustainable urban development and the management of cultural landscapes is understanding the processes and interactions of the natural environment, built up areas and the socio-economic context. The principal input for obtaining this knowledge is in turn a sound geoinformation base which reveals the related spatial and socio-economic phenomena.
The Urban Areas and Land Management team develops remote sensing methodologies and information products to support the sustainable management of urban areas and cultural landscapes. To do so, primarily high spatial resolution data obtained from active and passive remote sensing sensor systems (multispectral, hyperspectral and SAR) are employed and analyzed with the help of (semi-) automatic image processing techniques. The applications focus on three main areas:
From a methodological point of view the research focuses on operational solutions: