Using High Resolution Commercial Satellite Imagery to Quantify Spatial Features of Urban Areas and their Relationship to Quality of Life Indicators in Accra, Ghana

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Avery Sandborn, Ryan Engstrom and Qin Yu, George Washington University, Washington, DC, United States
Mapping urban areas via satellite imagery is an important task for detecting and anticipating land cover and land use change at multiple scales. As developing countries experience substantial urban growth and expansion, remotely sensed based estimates of population and quality of life indicators can provide timely and spatially explicit information to researchers and planners working to determine how cities are changing. In this study, we use commercial high spatial resolution satellite imagery in combination with fine resolution census data to determine the ability of using remotely sensed data to reveal the spatial patterns of quality of life in Accra, Ghana. Traditionally, spectral characteristics are used on a per-pixel basis to determine land cover; however, in this study, we test a new methodology that quantifies spatial characteristics using a variety of spatial features observed in the imagery to determine the properties of an urban area. The spatial characteristics used in this study include histograms of oriented gradients, PanTex, Fourier transform, and line support regions. These spatial features focus on extracting structural and textural patterns of built-up areas, such as homogeneous building orientations and straight line indices. Information derived from aggregating the descriptive statistics of the spatial features at both the fine-resolution census unit and the larger neighborhood level are then compared to census derived quality of life indicators including information about housing, education, and population estimates. Preliminary results indicate that there are correlations between straight line indices and census data including available electricity and literacy rates. Results from this study will be used to determine if this methodology provides a new and improved way to measure a city structure in developing cities and differentiate between residential and commercial land use zones, as well as formal versus informal housing areas.