Mapping the Invisibles: Global urban inequalities through night lights

Angela Abascal, Christopher Kyba, Franz Hölker, Monika Kuffer, Hector Linares Arroyo, Ken Walczak, Alejandro S. De Miguel, Tobias Degen, Miguel O. Roman

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Intra-urban poverty mapping using Earth Observation is primarily limited to daylight studies. Its present scope does not reveal several facets of urban poverty, such as access to reliable and sustainable energy for all (SDG-7). Most of our current knowledge of artificial light at night comes from datasets generated by a limited number of remote sensing missions, mostly low spatial and spectral resolution sensors and images from the International Space Station (ISS). The latter offers greater spectral and spatial resolution but is not routinely acquired for most parts of the globe. Although there are currently automatic methods for their calibration, they continue to present limitations that make them a non-ideal instrument for global monitoring of the multiple dimensions of urban poverty. Therefore, this study provides an overview of the multiple dimensions of poverty and its scope to be observed through nighttime light remote sensing imagery. We define user requirements for upcoming satellite-based sensors to support global urban poverty mapping in the context of the ongoing European Space Agency-funded research project called NightWatch.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2023 Joint Urban Remote Sensing Event (JURSE)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-6654-9373-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-6654-9374-1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023
EventJoint Urban Remote Sensing Event, JURSE 2023 - Heraklion, Greece
Duration: 17 May 202319 May 2023


ConferenceJoint Urban Remote Sensing Event, JURSE 2023
Abbreviated titleJURSE 2023
Internet address


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