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Use of automated change detection and VGI sources for identifying and validating urban land use change


A. M. Olteanu-Raimond

L. See

M. Schultz

Professor of Geographical Information

M. Riffler

T. Gasber

L. Jolivet

A. le Bris

Y. Meneroux

L. Liu


M. Gombert


© 2020, by the authors. Land use and land cover (LULC) mapping is often undertaken by national mapping agencies, where these LULC products are used for different types of monitoring and reporting applications. Updating of LULC databases is often done on a multi-year cycle due to the high costs involved, so changes are only detected when mapping exercises are repeated. Consequently, the information on LULC can quickly become outdated and hence may be incorrect in some areas. In the current era of big data and Earth observation, change detection algorithms can be used to identify changes in urban areas, which can then be used to automatically update LULC databases on a more continuous basis. However, the change detection algorithm must be validated before the changes can be committed to authoritative databases such as those produced by national mapping agencies. This paper outlines a change detection algorithm for identifying construction sites, which represent ongoing changes in LU, developed in the framework of the LandSense project. We then use volunteered geographic information (VGI) captured through the use of mapathons from a range of different groups of contributors to validate these changes. In total, 105 contributors were involved in the mapathons, producing a total of 2778 observations. The 105 contributors were grouped according to six different user-profiles and were analyzed to understand the impact of the experience of the users on the accuracy assessment. Overall, the results show that the change detection algorithm is able to identify changes in residential land use to an adequate level of accuracy (85%) but changes in infrastructure and industrial sites had lower accuracies (57% and 75 %, respectively), requiring further improvements. In terms of user profiles, the experts in LULC from local authorities, researchers in LULC at the French national mapping agency (IGN), and first-year students with a basic knowledge of geographic information systems had the highest overall accuracies (86.2%, 93.2%, and 85.2%, respectively). Differences in how the users approach the task also emerged, e.g., local authorities used knowledge and context to try to identify types of change while those with no knowledge of LULC (i.e., normal citizens) were quicker to choose 'Unknown' when the visual interpretation of a class was more difficult.


Olteanu-Raimond, A. M., See, L., Schultz, M., Foody, G., Riffler, M., Gasber, T., …Gombert, M. (2020). Use of automated change detection and VGI sources for identifying and validating urban land use change. Remote Sensing, 12(7), Article 1186.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 3, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 7, 2020
Publication Date Apr 7, 2020
Deposit Date May 13, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 13, 2020
Journal Remote Sensing
Electronic ISSN 2072-4292
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 7
Article Number 1186
Keywords General Earth and Planetary Sciences
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Olteanu-Raimond, A.-M.; See, L.; Schultz, M.; Foody, G.; Riffler, M.; Gasber, T.; Jolivet, L.; le Bris, A.; Meneroux, Y.; Liu, L.; Poupée, M.; Gombert, M. Use of Automated Change Detection and VGI Sources for Identifying and Validating Urban Land Use Change. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 1186.


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