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The GHSL is one of the core datasets used in the GEO Human Planet initiative, and is the main baseline used in the first release of the Atlas of the Human Planet 2016. The GHSL concept was initialized by the JRC in 2010-2011.

GHSL activities are currently supported by the JRC scientific working plan 2016-2019 in the frame of the JRC Directorate E “Space, Security & Migration”.

The JRC, together with the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) are working towards a regular and operational monitoring of global built-up and population based on the processing of Sentinel Earth Observation data produced by the European Copernicus space program.

At the JRC, the GHSL framework of data and tools supports the Knowledge Centres for Disaster Risk Management, Sustainable Development, Territorial Modelling, and Security & Migration. Moreover, the GHSL is one key test case contributing to the JRC Earth Observation and Social Sensing Big Data Pilot project in the frame of the JRC Text & Data Mining Competence Centre.

In order to better understand the key findings and the applications of GHSL it is important to develop a common understanding on the concept and the methodology that were used to generate the information in this atlas.

The following documents are extracted from the Atlas (18.45 MB):

Why study human settlements using Earth Observation? (72.66 KB)
It illustrates why it makes sense to use Earth Observation systems for the study of human settlements and what are the definitions for settlements used in this Atlas.

Mapping and measuring human settlements from remote sensing (48.80 KB)
It includes a review of previous efforts to map settlements at various scales and with different data sets in order to put the GHSL in the scientific context.

The Global Human Settlement Layer Concept (264.43 KB)
It introduces the concept of the GHSL. The concept evolved over time and comprehension of this process will prepare the ground for the fundamentals of GHSL, which provide the necessary descriptions and definitions of all the data sets produced by GHSL.

Fundamentals of GHSL (1.78 MB)
It introduces the essential parts of the concept and in particular the methodology.

References