Mapping and characterising buildings for flood exposure analysis using open-source data and artificial intelligence

K. Bhuyan*, C. van Westen, Jiong Wang, S.R. Meena

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


The mapping and characterisation of building footprints is a challenging task due to inaccessibility and incompleteness of the required data, thus hindering the estimation of loss caused by natural and anthropogenic hazards. Major advancements have been made in the collaborative mapping of buildings with platforms like OpenStreetMap, however, many parts of the world still lack this information or the information is outdated. We created a semi-automated workflow for the development of elements-at-risk (EaR) databases of buildings by detecting building footprints using deep learning and characterising the footprints with building occupancy information using building morphological metrics and open-source auxiliary data. The deep learning model was used to detect building EaR footprints in a city in Kerala (India) with an F1 score of over 76%. The footprints were classified into 13 building occupancy types along with information such as average number of floors, total floor space area, building density, and percentage of built-up area. We analysed the transferability of the approach to a different city in Kerala and obtained an almost similar F1 score of 74%. We also examined the exposure of the buildings and the associated occupancies to floods using the 2018 flood susceptibility map of the respective cities. We notice certain shortcomings in our research particularly, the need for a local expert and good quality auxiliary data to obtain reasonable building occupancy information, however, our research contributes to developing a rapid method for generating a building EaR database in data-scarce regions with attributes of occupancy types, thus supporting regional risk assessment, disaster risk mitigation, risk reduction initiatives, and policy developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805-835
Number of pages31
JournalNatural hazards
Early online date17 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Deep learning Building detection Building morphology Building characterisation Open-source data Exposure assessment


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