Measuring intra-urban poverty using land cover and texture metrics derived from remote sensing data

Autores UPV
Revista Landscape and Urban Planning


This paper contributes empirical evidence about the usefulness of remote sensing imagery to quantify the degree of poverty at the intra-urban scale. This concept is based on two premises: first, that the physical appearance of an urban settlement is a reflection of the society; and second, that the people who reside in urban areas with similar physical housing conditions have similar social and demographic characteristics. We use a very high spatial resolution (VHR) image from one of the most socioeconomically divergent cities in the world, Medellin (Colombia), to extract information on land cover composition using perpixel classification and on urban texture and structure using an automated tool for texture and structure feature extraction at object level. We evaluate the potential of these descriptors to explain a measure of poverty known as the Slum Index. We found that these variables explain up to 59% of the variability in the Slum Index. Similar approaches could be used to lower the cost of socioeconomic surveys by developing an econometric model from a sample and applying that model to the rest of the city and to perform intercensal or intersurvey estimates of intra-urban Slum Index maps.