The project supported the HIRD (Housing for Integrated Rural Development Improvement) program, a large-scale, widely dispersed national residential construction program to erect 50,000 private homes using local construction contractors over a 5 year period (2011–2015).
HIRD is a high-priority component of Uzbekistan’s Welfare Improvement Strategy for achieving inclusive growth and greater diversification of the economy. By the end of 2013 over 33,000 houses have been completed, and 11,000 more targeted for 2014 and 2015. A second 5-year phase was proposed starting 2016. HIRD is creating opportunities for up to 1,000 small rural contractors and 100,000 rural construction jobs annually. Improved access to nearby schools and clinics is a key part of this program. More reliable electricity, gas, and water supply, combined with community designs that include space for retail shops and commercial services, are opening up opportunities for home-based businesses.
The EO-based service contributed to the program with so-called Essential Elements of Information (EEI), i.e. prior-to-construction site suitability verification (supported by classification maps), as well as construction progress verification and post-construction benefits and impact evaluation for the greater Tashkent area (supported by change maps). Presently, working practice involves input from the local stakeholders, including based on field missions, with little to no geospatial information available to ADB. The delivered products can support the project management team in tracking, verifying and reporting project progress and outcome using independent third-party information that can be made available near-real time, thereby reducing the need for extensive and frequent field visits.
“Overall, this technology would be very useful for some projects. [...] As this project involved housing construction over all of Uzbekistan, we were able to view large tracts of construction in a quick and efficient manner.”
The potential for improving transparency, accountability and strengthened governance was illustrated by sharing project outcomes with project stakeholders and key government agencies. The products can serve as a basis for designing the later phases of the project and advancing project monitoring approaches and methodologies even for other ADB infrastructure investment projects.
Land cover / land use classification and its changes over time
The service consisted of two types of products: classification maps and change maps. Based on high-resolution satellite imagery the classification maps contain land use information for artificial surfaces (urban fabric, industrial, commercial, public, military, sports and leisure, private residential units, roads and railways with their associated land, port areas, airports, mineral extraction and dump sites, construction sites, unused urban areas) and natural surfaces (urban greenery, agricultural land, forest, grassland, wetlands, bare land, water bodies). The maps also delineated infrastructure networks (road, rail) and provided footprints of individual buildings.
The change maps contained information on the status for each housing unit (“demolished”, “unchanged”, “new, completed”, and “new, under construction”), and changes in land use types reflecting increased post-construction economic activity, social well-being and environmental impact (e.g. industrial to residential, grassland or bare soil to crops, etc.).
For each classification map, information was extracted from satellite imagery following a well-established processing sequence. Hereby, the delineation of features was performed systematically according to the geometry types and thematic relations between different classes. The workflow was based on two major mapping phases: (i) mapping of all objects except of the land cover area features, and (ii) delineation of all land cover area features. The geometry features (line or area) are extracted and attributed adhering strictly to explicit topology rules to ensure correct vector geometries in the final product.
The progress and change mapping was performed based on pairs of satellite imagery recorded at different times. The first point in time was provided by three SPOT 5 scenes (2.5 m resolution), covering most housing units in February 2010, and only two in February 2009. The recent situation was retrieved from nine Pléiades-1A and Pléiades-1B coverages ranging from February 2013 to April 2014. Each area of interest was analysed by an experienced interpreter towards changes compared to the older dataset. This effective mapping approach started with the most recent status and then worked backwards to retrieve past status by changing/deleting vector elements. Each housing complex was checked and analysed by semi-automatic GIS routines and manual interpretation following a multi-stage quality assessment procedure to ensure a consistent high product quality. Special thematic focus was put on the individual houses and their construction status. The result is a complex geodatabase with highly-detailed and high-precision vector data, ready for GIS import and further value adding. All produced metadata is conform to the European INSPIRE directive.
Additionally, a web-based map viewer was set up enabling the exploration of the mapping products in an interactive and user-friendly way. Apart from the customary map viewer functionality, specific INSPIRE-compatible metadata can be queried for each product.