Settlements and urban areas represent the cores of human activity and development. Besides climate change, urbanization represents one of the most relevant developments related to the human presence on the planet. Both global trends challenge our environmental, societal and economic development. In this context, the availability of and access to accurate, detailed and up-to-date information will impact decision making processes all over the world. The suite of Sentinel Earth Observation (EO) satellites in combination with their free and open access data policy contributes to a spatially and temporally detailed monitoring of the Earth’s surface.
At the same time a multitude of additional sources of open geo-data is available - e.g. from national or international statistics or land surveying offices, volunteered geographic information or social media. However, the capability to effectively and efficiently access, process, and jointly analyze the mass data collections poses a key technical challenge. The Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform (U-TEP), funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), is developed to provide end-to-end and ready-to-use solutions for a broad spectrum of users (experts and non-experts) to extract unique information/ indicators required for urban management and sustainability. The key components of the system are an open, web-based portal, which is connected to distributed high-level computing infrastructures and providing key functionalities for
U-TEP aims at opening up new opportunities to facilitate effective and efficient urban management and the safeguarding of livable cities by systematically exploring the unique EO capabilities in Europe in combination with the big data perspective arising from the constantly growing sources of geo-data. The capabilities of participation and sharing of knowledge by using new media and ways of communication will help to boost interdisciplinary applications with an urban background. The services and functionalities are supposed to enable any interested user to easily exploit and generate thematic information on the status and development of the environment based on EO data and technologies. The innovative character of U-TEP platform in terms of available data and processing and analysis functionalities attracted already a large user community of diverse users (i.a. from science, public institutions, NGOs, industry).