Mapping our global human footprint
12 June 2019
The number of people flocking to cities in search of employment and better prospects is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2050, the global population is estimated to reach nine billion, 70% of which will be living in urban areas. The World Settlement Footprint 2015 (WSF-2015) is the first map, using mass collections of radar and optical satellite imagery, to provide a global overview of the world's human settlements.
The rapid and unplanned urban growth along with the rise in population density brings challenges, such as increased air pollution, inadequate infrastructures and greater vulnerability if disaster strikes. The importance of effective city planning and development will be essential in managing these urban swells.
ESA's Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform (U-TEP) and its new WSF-2015 dataset helps do just that.
Image credit: DLR, GEE - Urban sprawl in Shanghai