Copernicus Global Human Settlement Layer Production Launch

Joint Research Centre and service providers launch the production of the new generation of the Copernicus Global Human Settlement Layer The Copernicus Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) is the Exposure Mapping Component of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, implemented by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. Born out of the recognition that precise information on the exposure of humans and assets plays a key role in successfully managing crises and assessing disaster risk from the policy and scientific perspectives, the Copernicus GHSL project produces global spatial information about the human presence on the planet over time, for example, in the form of built-up surface maps.

A Consortium led by GeoVille with partners CLS, Vypno, DLR, and GAF has been awarded by JRC to produce periodic updates of built-up surface layers for 2022, 2024 and 2026. This new iteration presents a unique opportunity for the Consortium to showcase its experience by producing high-quality products for the JRC, and ultimately, the global scientific and decision-maker communities in an attempt to provide EO-data based evidence to prevent or handle crises.

The periodic updates of the built-up surface layers will serve as inputs for the JRC to perform the population disaggregation based on the presence/absence of built-up areas, which in turn is used to determine human disaster/crisis exposure.

To produce the Copernicus GHSL built-up surface maps, the Consortium will use state-of-the-art techniques based on Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 time-series data, and a combination of highly efficient and noise-reducing time-series parameterisation methodologies with a modified deep convolutional neural network (U-Net), deployed to a high-performance and production-proven computing environment.

This approach and the Consortium’s long-standing industrial experience guarantee the robust and scalable implementation of the new global Copernicus GHSL built-up surface products, ensuring homogeneity both in time and space by paying attention to the consistency with the existing GHSL data packages and the pan-European High Resolution Layers, such as the HRL NVLCC.

The Copernicus GHSL project starts with a nine-month-long Proof of Concept (PoC) phase, where the proposed innovative workflow mentioned above will be tested and the results iterated based on six test areas around the globe. These test areas have been carefully selected to be as representative of the various human settlements on the globe as possible; they are geographically spread and contain heterogeneous settlement typologies, each corresponding to an area of approximately 10,000 km2.

After the results of this PoC phase are evaluated, the full production of the global built-up surface maps for the reference year 2022 will begin, with the first public results available in August 2024. Later on, as the project has a cyclical timeline, two more full production rounds (for the reference years 2024 and 2026) are planned along with intervening periods spent on the research, development, and evolution of the products and processes. The project is then slated to finish by the summer of 2028.

Further information about the Copernicus GHSL and its applications can be found at Copernicus Exposure Mapping Component (Copernicus GHSL).

Copernicus Global Human Settlement Layer Production Launch

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