OECD Regional Development Papers

Papers from the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities of the OECD cover a full range of topics including regional statistics and analysis, urban governance and economics, rural governance and economics, and multi-level governance. Depending on the programme of work, the papers can cover specific topics such as regional innovation and networks, sustainable development, the determinants of regional growth or fiscal consolidation at the subnational level.


Monitoring land use in cities using satellite imagery and deep learning

Over time, cities expand their physical footprint on land and new cities emerge. The shape of the built environment can affect several domains which are policy relevant, such as carbon emissions, housing affordability, infrastructure costs, and access to services. This study lays a methodological basis for the monitoring and consistent comparison of land use across OECD cities. An advanced form of deep learning, namely the U-Net model, is used to classify land cover and land use in EC-ESA satellite imagery for 2021. This complements conventional statistical data by monitoring large surfaces of land efficiently and in near real-time. In specific, following the availability of detailed data for model training, built-up areas in residential or business-related use are mapped and analysed for 687 European metropolitan areas, as a case application. Recent urban expansion’s speed and shape are explored, as well as the potential for assessing land use in cities beyond Europe.


Keywords: Land Use Monitoring, Satellite Imagery, Machine Learning, Cities, Economic Indicators
JEL: R31: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics / Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location / Housing Supply and Markets; R14: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics / General Regional Economics / Land Use Patterns
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