Some 20 key scientists and practitioners will this week convene in Enschede in the Netherlands for a three-day expert group meeting on slum identification, mapping and monitoring.
The experts will discuss methodological issues of slum identification using geo-information technology which includes among others, Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing. This includes monitoring and mapping via very high resolution satellite imagery and geographic information systems.
The need for identification of slum areas is growing rapidly, as the number of slums in cities all over the world is increasing and their quality is deteriorating. At the present time, around one billion people live in slum conditions in the developing world and it is expected that the number will grow up to 1.4 billion in 2020. Yet, the identification of slums is problematic for various reasons:
- Many local governments do not have mechanisms to monitor urban growth in a systematic manner, even less to monitor informal urban growth. According to UNHABITAT 80 cities out of 120 recognize that they do not possess monitoring systems to track changes in the spatial dimension of the city (Urban Indicators Programme, 2005).
- Slums are often the invisible part of the city; they are zones of silence in terms of public knowledge, opinion and discussion about urban poverty (Slums of the World, 2003).
- Slums, as part of informal growth, are more important than formal growth in many cities of the developing world. Yet, these invisible areas grow faster than the visible areas. Most governments do not report on slum conditions and trends.
- Different countries maintain different standards and information, quite often coloured by political considerations, which makes difficult their recognition by local authorities.
The focus of the meeting is to document methods for the identification and delineation of slum areas based on very high resolution remote sensing images and supplementary data sets, e.g. census and related GIS data on infrastructure and services. This allows the formulation of a global strategy to collect sufficient and reliable information at the sub-city level and to link that to information at the city level.
The expert group meeting is organised by UN-HABITAT’s Global Urban Observatory/Monitoring Systems Branch, the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), The Netherlands and The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA and is partially funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (VROM).