Sensing Settlements lets you help urban planning research by answering questions about images of cities


The situation

Over half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas and is expected to increase — yet cities have not effectively managed the migration into urban areas driven by economic opportunity. Neighborhoods in these cities have different urban service levels, security of tenure and they are constantly changing.


The mission

The availability of high-cadence, high-resolution satellite data can augment the work of city officials, non-government organizations, and private sector firms who are trying to best serve these neighborhoods. With this project, we seek to monitor the evolution of different neighborhoods, in particular the growth of irregular settlements, via satellite imagery so that we can study the evolution of different institutional arrangements that help people cope with the urbanization process.


The method

These informal settlements often are of different types and don’t all look alike, making them difficult to monitor. We need help from you — the citizen scientist — to spot, characterize, validate and monitor these settlements, so that field efforts can be better directed. Familiarize yourself with our app and use it to help make sense of large amounts of satellite imagery in select cities.

Read the tutorial to learn how to identify informal settlements, and when you're ready, jump in!

Go to the app
Thanks to our partners