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URBIS: Focus on urban re-development potential

GISAT leads an international project aiming at implementation of operational information services supporting urban vacant land recycling within the sustainable business model.

In recent decades, urban sprawl became a serious European-wide problem, not only due to total land taken, but also due to its spatial distribution patterns and quality of the land consumed. Land use efficiency is becoming a prime political objective at both European and city level, and the EU Land Communication aims to establish “zero net land take” across the EU by 2050. Land is a finite resource and therefore the sprawl has to be regulated. This can be realized through careful management of urban land, applying the concept of land recycling. Only such an approach can assure sustainable development of European landscape in the long term perspective.

The EU funded URBIS (Urban Land Recycling Information Services for Sustainable Cities) project targets these issues and focuses on investigation of vacant land potential in urban areas, and the opportunities for previously developed land or brownfield to support urban regeneration safeguarding greenfield sites, as well as on investigation of urban green systems. URBIS delivers methodologies and tools to provide accurate up-to-date intelligence that is comparable across European cities to support the definition and implementation of sustainable planning and governance strategies in cities and city-regions throughout Europe.

URBIS services are built on data acquired in frame of the Copernicus programme. This generates large number of standard open-data, Earth Observation datasets as well as standard services (Urban Atlas, High Resolution Layers (HRLs)), which can be utilized for urban land recycling policy support. First, analysis based directly on Urban Atlas thematic layer are implemented, to obtain the overview about the amount and distribution of potential development sites. Second, advanced image analysis methods are employed, to gather additional information, which is not available in Urban Atlas thematic layer, in particular about internal structure of the sites. These techniques, utilizing both pixel and object based image analysis (OBIA) approaches, are dealing with multiple spatial, spectral and textural image characteristics. They are applied preferably on SPOT5 imagery, acquired for European Urban Atlas mapping. As a result, the inventory of potential development and green sites in urban areas, including their characteristics detectable from EO data, like level of sealing, amount and type of vegetation cover etc., has been obtained. Preparing detailed methodology, the robustness is an important factor, to assure the applicability of workflow for potential European-wide analysis in the future.

The implementation is demonstrated on three pilot sites – Greater Amiens (FR), Osnabrueck (DE) and the Moravian-Silesian Region (CZ). Baseline services for the year 2012 and backdating towards 2006 and cca 1996 will be implemented. Then, thematic services will be prepared, exploiting results of baseline and update services, to provide information about the urban re-development potential directly to the users. Character of URBIS services has been tailored to meet requirements of end-users, which were set in close cooperation with pilots and with an external Stakeholder Board. Both strategic users at different levels (local and regional authorities, European and national agencies in charge of urban planning) and operational users (such as industrial estates operators or private land developers which can be interested in information on suitable vacant sites) are targeted.

URBIS project ( has received funding from the EU FP7 ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (Grant Agreement No. 621125). The URBIS project consortium is lead by GISAT (Czechia) and consists of six additional partners: SIRS (France), Universitaet Osnabrueck (Germany), UNIGE (Universita Degli Studi Di Genova, Italy), STADT+ (Germany) and ADUGA (Agence De Developpement Et D’urbanisme Du Grand Amienois Association, France).

Gisat provides wide range of geoinformation services based on Earth Observation technology. It focuses on operational application of satellite mapping to monitor various aspects of our environment and development of dedicated web based platforms for geoinformation analysis and assessment
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