Imperial College London

Miss A. Barbara Metzler

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Research Postgraduate







Building E - Sir Michael UrenWhite City Campus





Publication Type

3 results found

Metzler AB, Nathvani R, Sharmanska V, Bai W, Muller E, Moulds S, Agyei-Asabere C, Adjei-Boadih D, Kyere-Gyeabour E, Tetteh JD, Owusu G, Agyei-Mensah S, Baumgartner J, Robinson BE, Arku RE, Ezzati Met al., 2023, Phenotyping urban built and natural environments with high-resolution satellite images and unsupervised deep learning, Science of the Total Environment, Vol: 893, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 0048-9697

Cities in the developing world are expanding rapidly, and undergoing changes to their roads, buildings, vegetation, and other land use characteristics. Timely data are needed to ensure that urban change enhances health, wellbeing and sustainability. We present and evaluate a novel unsupervised deep clustering method to classify and characterise the complex and multidimensional built and natural environments of cities into interpretable clusters using high-resolution satellite images. We applied our approach to a high-resolution (0.3 m/pixel) satellite image of Accra, Ghana, one of the fastest growing cities in sub-Saharan Africa, and contextualised the results with demographic and environmental data that were not used for clustering. We show that clusters obtained solely from images capture distinct interpretable phenotypes of the urban natural (vegetation and water) and built (building count, size, density, and orientation; length and arrangement of roads) environment, and population, either as a unique defining characteristic (e.g., bodies of water or dense vegetation) or in combination (e.g., buildings surrounded by vegetation or sparsely populated areas intermixed with roads). Clusters that were based on a single defining characteristic were robust to the spatial scale of analysis and the choice of cluster number, whereas those based on a combination of characteristics changed based on scale and number of clusters. The results demonstrate that satellite data and unsupervised deep learning provide a cost-effective, interpretable and scalable approach for real-time tracking of sustainable urban development, especially where traditional environmental and demographic data are limited and infrequent.

Journal article

Nathvani R, Clark S, Muller E, Alli A, Bennett J, Nimo J, Moses J, Baah S, Metzler A, Brauer M, Suel E, Hughes A, Rashid T, Gemmel E, Moulds S, Baumgartner J, Toledano M, Agyemang E, Owusu G, Agyei-Mensah S, Arku R, Ezzati Met al., 2022, Characterisation of urban environment and activity across space and time using street images and deep learning in Accra, Scientific Reports, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2045-2322

The urban environment influences human health, safety and wellbeing. Cities in Africa are growing faster than other regions but have limited data to guide urban planning and policies. Our aim was to use smart sensing and analytics to characterise the spatial patterns and temporal dynamics of features of the urban environment relevant for health, liveability, safety and sustainability. We collected a novel dataset of 2.1 million time-lapsed day and night images at 145 representative locations throughout the Metropolis of Accra, Ghana. We manually labelled a subset of 1,250 images for 20 contextually relevant objects and used transfer learning with data augmentation to retrain a convolutional neural network to detect them in the remaining images. We identified 23.5 million instances of these objects including 9.66 million instances of persons (41% of all objects), followed by cars (4.19 million, 18%), umbrellas (3.00 million, 13%), and informally operated minibuses known as tro tros (2.94 million, 13%). People, large vehicles and market-related objects were most common in the commercial core and densely populated informal neighbourhoods, while refuse and animals were most observed in the peripheries. The daily variability of objects was smallest in densely populated settlements and largest in the commercial centre. Our novel data and methodology shows that smart sensing and analytics can inform planning and policy decisions for making cities more liveable, equitable, sustainable and healthy.

Journal article

Burgess T, Metzler B, Ettlinger A, Neuner H-Bet al., 2018, Geometric Constraint Model and Mobility Graphs for Building Utilization Intelligence, 2018 International Conference on Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation (IPIN), Publisher: IEEE

Conference paper

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