EARTH OBSERVATION IN SUPPORT OF SDG 11: Mapping urban deprivation using remote sensing

Earth Observation in support of SDG11: Mapping urban deprivation using remote sensing

Webinar Speaker: Monika Kuffer, University of Twente, Julio Pedrassoli, Federal University of Bahia, Dennis Mwaniki, UN-Habitat

About the Webinar

Rapid urbanization is a global phenomenon that is reshaping the urban environment all over the world. This process is associated with significant socio-economic and demographic transformations, often resulting in the proliferation of deprived and vulnerable urban neighbourhoods. Studying this phenomenon is often hindered by the lack of updated spatial information, preventing a global understanding of the ongoing transformations and the potential design of effective interventions.

The combination of remote sensing data with machine learning offers the opportunity to systematically monitor these rapid developments, providing relevant information for a better understanding of urbanization processes in different parts of the world. Advances in deep learning can largely contribute to mapping urban land cover, land use, and identifying informal and vulnerable areas. Automated techniques to analyze temporal image series can reveal vital information about urban growth patterns and morphological changes.

The webinar will feature presentations from three international experts in mapping and monitoring urban deprivation using remote sensing and geospatial data and will elaborate on the opportunity to use Earth observation to support SDG 11 and indicator 11.1.1 more specifically. The three speakers will provide their views on this societal challenge, bringing together the experience from academia and one of the custodian agencies for SDG 11 (UN-Habitat). A discussion and Q&A session will follow the three presentations.

About the Speakers

Monika Kuffer is working as Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC, University of Twente). Her main research interests are urban remote sensing, SDG monitoring, mapping deprived areas (e.g., slums), and analyzing urban form and dynamics with remote sensing and spatial statistics/metrics. She is co-chairing an international network on deprivation area mapping IDEAMAPS (, and is presently working on two research projects related to deprivation area mapping SLUMAP ( and ACCOUNT ( She received her PhD from the University of Twente (NL) and one MSc in Human Geographer (TU Munich) and a second MSc in Geographic Information Science (University of London).


Julio Pedrassoli has a Ph.D. in Human Geography from the University of São Paulo (USP), a master’s degree in Physical Geography from the same university, and a degree in Geography from Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Develops research using Remote Sensing to identify patterns of spatiotemporal change over the Earth’s surface, especially in mapping urban sprawl and the relationship between housing and poverty in the Global South. Since 2014 he is a Professor and Researcher at the Federal University of Bahia, working at the Department of Transportation Engineering and Geodesy of the Polytechnic School of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA).  He was Research Scholar at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia University in urban remote sensing and currently coordinates the mapping of Brazilian urbanized areas in the MapBiomas initiative.


Dennis Mwaniki is a Spatial Data Expert at UN-Habitat’s Data and Analytics Section, where his day to day responsibilities include coordinating activities around geospatial data production, methodological developments, and supporting countries and cities in the integration of earth observations and geospatial information techniques into urban monitoring processes.  He currently leads UN-Habitat’s global activities on production of data on three SDG 11 indicators which are reliant on earth observation and geospatial information – 11.3.1 on spatial and demographic urbanization trends, 11.2.1 on access to public transport and 11.7.1 on access to open public spaces; research on new approaches for measuring the share of population living in slums and informal settlements using geospatial techniques (SDG 11.1.1); as well as related indicators within the New Urban Agenda (NUA) monitoring framework. He also coordinates activities on implementation of the harmonized global definition of urban and rural areas, leads the section’s work on mapping existing social and infrastructural facilities/ assets in partner cities, and contributes to the preparation of progress reports against SDG 11.