Paper published at Sustainability 2022, MDPI

As a joint collaboration between Data and Design Lab and AGenCy Lab with Center for Spatial Information Science (The University of Tokyo) the paper titled “Understanding the Urban Environment from Satellite Images with New Classification Method—Focusing on Formality and Informality” has been published in Sustainability, MDPI.

Based on easily accessible data from Google Earth, this work develops and proposes a new urban environment classification method focusing on formality and informality. Firstly, the method gives a new model to scrutinize the urban environment based on the buildings and their surroundings. Secondly, the method is suited for the state-of-the-art machine learning processes that make it applicable and scalable for forecasting, analytics, or computational modeling. The paper first demonstrates the model and its applicability based on the urban environment in the developing world. The method divides the urban environment into 16 categories under four classes. Then it is used to draw the urban environment classes maps of the following emerging cities: Nairobi in Kenya, Mumbai in India, Guangzhou in China, Jakarta in Indonesia, Cairo in Egypt, and Lima in Chile. The characteristics of the different urban environments and the differences between the same class in different cities are presented. The paper also demonstrate the agility of the proposed method by showing how this classification method can be easily augmented with other data such as population per square kilometer to aid the decision-making process.