Characterizing the Spatial and Temporal Availability of Very High Resolution Satellite Imagery in Google Earth and Microsoft Bing Maps as a Source of Reference Data | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
December 2018
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© 2018 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Very high resolution (VHR) satellite imagery from Google Earth and Microsoft Bing Maps is increasingly being used in a variety of applications from computer sciences to arts and humanities. In the field of remote sensing, one use of this imagery is to create reference data sets through visual interpretation, e.g., to complement existing training data or to aid in the validation of land-cover products. Through new applications such as Collect Earth, this imagery is also being used for monitoring purposes in the form of statistical surveys obtained through visual interpretation. However, little is known about where VHR satellite imagery exists globally or the dates of the imagery. Here we present a global overview of the spatial and temporal distribution of VHR satellite imagery in Google Earth and Microsoft Bing Maps. The results show an uneven availability globally, with biases in certain areas such as the USA, Europe and India, and with clear discontinuities at political borders. We also show that the availability of VHR imagery is currently not adequate for monitoring protected areas and deforestation, but is better suited for monitoring changes in cropland or urban areas using visual interpretation.

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Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Lesiv, Myroslava
See, Linda
Laso Bayas, C. Juan
Sturn, Tobias
Schepaschenko, Dmitry
Karner, Mathias
Moorthy, Inian
McCallum, Ian
Fritz, Steffen


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