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Mapping our global human footprint

12 June 2019

The number of people flocking to cities in search of employment and better prospects is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2050, the global population is estimated to reach nine billion, 70% of which will be living in urban areas. The World Settlement Footprint 2015 (WSF-2015) is the first map, using mass collections of radar and optical satellite imagery, to provide a global overview of the world's human settlements.

The rapid and unplanned urban growth along with the rise in population density brings challenges, such as increased air pollution, inadequate infrastructures and greater vulnerability if disaster strikes. The importance of effective city planning and development will be essential in managing these urban swells.

ESA's Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform (U-TEP) and its new WSF-2015 dataset helps do just that. This product has been generated with support of the U-TEP by exploiting the methodology developed in the framework of the ESA SAR for urbanisation monitoring (SAR4URBAN) project lead by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
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