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Four UvA Earth Sciences alumni made it to the finals of DigitalGlobe's international GBDX for Sustainability Challenge. In the final round they are up against students from, among others, Oxford and Duke. For their application, the UvA students propose to use satellite images for the monitoring of green spaces in urban areas worldwide.

Global Green City Watch

Earth scientists Nadine Galle, Chris van Diemen, Jim Groot and Anjelika Romeo-Hall wrote the proposal under supervision of Emiel van Loon, researcher at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics.

Unique satellite access

This week it was announced that their project, Global Green City Watch, was selected for round 2 in the Challenge, together with four other sustainability projects. In the next two months, the team will have access to high-resolution satellite images of between 0.5-2 meter, a unique opportunity. During their studies they ‘only’ had access to satellite images with a resolution of 15-20 meter.

From quantitative to qualitative analysis

This upscaling makes it possible to transition from doing image analysis for quantitative applications to qualitative applications. For example, these images can capture the quality of green spaces in a city, and this knowledge can be used to improve the quality of urban green spaces. With the growth of urban areas worldwide, the ecological quality of a city is of increasing importance.

The ultimate goal is to develop Global Green City Watch into an open source application that regional governments can use to strengthen the ecology in the city.

About the GBDX for Sustainability Challenge

For the GBDX for Sustainability Challenge, DigitalGlobe is opening up their geospatial big data platform, GBDX, to accelerate innovation in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

DigitalGlobe is a trendsetting technology firm, specialised in remote sensing. Remote sensing uses satellite images as a basis for making analyses with a multitude of applications. Examples are projects in agriculture improvement, water management and the fight against deforestation.