Challenges of Mapping the Missing Spaces

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Urbanization in the Global South is often characterized by the proliferation of deprived neighborhoods (frequently referred to as slums). The importance of improving the lives of the residents in these areas is highlighted by many global development agendas. Unfortunately, improvement efforts are hampered by lacking, inaccessible, or outdated spatial data. In this paper, we describe the current limitations which should be addressed to enable a widespread scaling up of remote sensing and image processing methodologies capable of providing this data. We focus on the conceptual ambiguity of what is understood as a slum, informal settlement, or deprived neighborhood. There is a wide diversity of their appearance within a single city, as well as at a global scale. This leads to existential and extensional uncertainty, causing even experts to have different assessments of a slum’s boundaries. Such conceptual ambiguities make it more difficult to obtain training data for image processing algorithms, as well as validation to test their accuracy. This also makes it difficult to improve the geographic, contextual, and temporal transferability of the algorithms. After discussing what is needed to upscale current algorithms, we continue to describe the gap between the geospatial data products developed in the remote sensing community and the information needed by policymakers and other user-groups. We discuss why an objective and transparent system for monitoring slums is needed to monitor global development goals as well as support local communities and NGOs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIEEE - Joint Urban Remote Sensing Event, 2019
Place of PublicationVannes
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-0009-8, 978-1-7281-0008-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-0010-4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019
EventJoint Urban Remote Sensing Event, JURSE 2019 - Vannes, France
Duration: 22 May 201924 May 2019


ConferenceJoint Urban Remote Sensing Event, JURSE 2019
Abbreviated titleJURSE 2019
Internet address


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