Earth Observation-Based Dwelling Detection Approaches in a Highly Complex Refugee Camp Environment - A Comparative Study

Kristin Spröhnle*, Dirk Tiede, Elisabeth Schoepfer, Petra Füreder, Anna Svanberg, Torbjörn Rost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


For effective management of refugee camps or camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) relief organizations need up-to-date information on the camp situation. In cases where detailed field assessments are not available, Earth observation (EO) data can provide important information to get a better overview about the general situation on the ground. In this study, different approaches for dwelling detection were tested using the example of a highly complex camp site in Somalia. On the basis of GeoEye-1 imagery, semi-automatic object-based and manual image analysis approaches were applied, compared and evaluated regarding their analysis results (absolute numbers, population estimation, spatial pattern), statistical correlations and production time. Although even the results of the visual image interpretation vary considerably between the interpreters, there is a similar pattern resulting from all methods, which shows same tendencies for dense and sparse populated areas. The statistical analyses revealed that all approaches have problems in the more complex areas, whereas there is a higher variance in manual interpretations with increasing complexity. The application of advanced rule sets in an object-based environment allowed a more consistent feature extraction in the area under investigation that can be obtained at a fraction of the time compared to visual image interpretation if large areas have to be observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9277-9297
Number of pages21
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 105 Geosciences
  • 207 Environmental Engineering, Applied Geosciences


  • Dwelling detection
  • Feature extraction
  • Object-based image analysis (OBIA)
  • Population estimation
  • Refugee camps
  • VHR data

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