Global Human Settlement Layer will support crisis management operations

Under the authority of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) has produced the first prototype of the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) using European medium resolution ENVISAT ASAR satellite data and advanced pattern recognition algorithms developed by the JRC.

The GHSL is expected to benefit many applications, such as disaster risk reduction, post-disaster humanitarian relief and regular monitoring of changes in human settlement patterns and extent. During 2011, the JRC will complete the first ever finer detail global human settlement layer based on European ENVISAT ASAR data.

All the crisis management cycle - including damage assessment, recovery, reconstruction and planning should benefit from an improved and globally-consistent description of human settlements. From this point of view, the applied notion of “human settlement” must be a proxy to population and assets at risk, and consequently must provide quantitative input for impact and risk modeling exercises.  These characteristics make the GHSL concept different from other available global geo-information layers: “sealed”, “impervious”, land cover surface, the “urban” land use land cover (LU/LC) surface are not applicable directly to GHSL concept.

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