Global Urbanization—Perspective from Space

  • Michael WurmEmail author
Conference paper


Since a decade, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. This trend is expected to be continued in the upcoming decades, transforming our world into an urban planet. Especially urban regions in Asia and Africa will experience tremendous urban growth. Earth observation data provide unique possibilities in urban research for analyzing global urbanization processes due to a wide spectrum of satellites such as by the European Copernicus Programme providing large-area satellite data for monitoring urban change processes. Besides, also on a local scale, high resolution satellite imagery provides invaluable information for characterizing the physical urban environment, allowing for a qualitative mapping of the state of urban neighborhoods in the context of urban poverty. This paper provides an overview on global urbanization processes, the data toolbox of satellites for their analysis and selected applications to demonstrate the usefulness of satellite images for urban research.


Urban remote sensing Urban geography Urbanization Urban poverty 



The author greatly acknowledges the provision of the WorldView-3 image of Shanghai by European Space Imaging.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Aerospace Center (DLR)Earth Observation Center (EOC)OberpfaffenhofenGermany

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