Welcome to the URBIS project

Sustainable urban development in its complexity is one of the most critical issues today and it is also reflected in numerous recent policy commitments and targets from global to local level. Understanding of complex relations of urban versus non urban land both on the level of physical forms and material & energy flows are recognised as crucial for balanced economical, ecological and social inclusive sustainable development.


Urban Sprawl is a Europe-wide serious problem, not only due to total area taken, but also due to its spatial distribution patterns (leading often to landscape fragmentation) and the composition of land taken (mostly agriculture and natural areas are converted to artificial areas). Finally, also the utilization of urbanized area (no. of inhabitants, no. of jobs) has to be taken into account to assess sustainability of urban development. Land is a finite resource and therefore urban planners need to select land to be used for further development more wisely applying the concept of land recycling. There is a need for a user-oriented service facilitating the identification of suitable sites for redevelopment based on objective criteria and providing flexible insight into these trade-offs on a strategic level for specific areas, still keeping in mind the general policy context. URBIS services will initially focus on the development of services focused on strategic users, but later on it will deal with operational users too:

- Strategic users, such as local and regional authorities, European and national agencies in charge of urban planning, would directly benefit from URBIS services as for the monitoring of the implementation of particular territory planning policy (e.g. the 30 ha goal on reduced land consumption in Germany). Furthermore, URBIS services may be used to support the allocation, monitoring and evaluation of ERDF funds in urban areas, or to assess to which extent urban development is meeting targets for the redevelopment of vacant sites.
- Operational users, such as industrial estates operators, private land developers or financial institutions are likely to require the URBIS services for meeting their requirements for information on suitable vacant sites location within metropolitan areas for the specific constructions or to improve project business plans. Regional and local planners also need information on the different vacant land development options as a critical component of urban and regional planning and spatial land management issues i.e. urban sprawl, nature conservation and leisure areas and green infrastructure connectivity etc.

The development of URBIS thematic services requires closer interactions with a wide range of stakeholders. URBIS partners already cover a wide range of the land use management processes. However, an external Stakeholder Board is created to ensure that the URBIS services address comprehensively all processes and actors involved. URBIS services initially focus on the development of services focused on strategic users, but later on will deal with operational users too.


Copernicus programme generate large number of standard open-data, Earth Observation datasets as well as standard services (Urban Atlas, High Resolution Layers (HRLs)), which can be utilized for urban land recycling policy support. More also other public initiatives under the European Open Data Strategy generate number of other supportive information. Several research and development projects were conducted notably by the project partners around feature extraction within the urban environment and identification of vacant urban sites. The techniques developed based on data fusion and Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA) makes it possible to ingest a large amount of data and automate the identification of vacant urban sites. The following mature technologies will serve as a basis for URBIS services implementation:

- Heterogeneous data collecting and processing (historical data, aerial photos, satellite imagery, existing data bases)
- Extraction of urban patterns from Very High Spatial Resolution (VHSR) data and scene complexity
- Characterization of land cover in urban and vacant areas: identification of objective criteria.

Although large amount of data will be used to implement the service, the end-product will be compatible with standard GIS technology. It will also be possible to disseminate through OGC compliant web geo data portals with advance presentation capabilities (e.g. D3 documents). Such topic is Europe-wide and therefore also such focused service has Europe-wide potential for commercial exploitation. Nevertheless till now transferability and scalability of such services was questionable due to heterogeneity of input data needed in different European countries. In contrary, recent developments in standard open-data provision as Copernicus datasets and other public data available in line with principles of the European Open Data Strategy (2011) and strengthened by the European INSPIRE harmonization effort, make hight potential for the operation use of EO datasets in this domain.


The URBIS project aims to develop, implement and validate in real environment innovative information services related to urban vacant land recycling, based on open geospatial data, to support planning of European Large Urban Zone’s (LUZs) in a sustainable way. The innovative URBIS services that will be developed and implemented during the project are articulated around 3 main categories:

- Baseline services: an initial inventory and typology of urban land, to identify sites that can be used for re-development, but also that should be preserved,
- Update services: a regular update of the vacant urban land inventory,
- Thematic services: downstream services derived from the URBIS baseline and update products, set for both the public and private sectors, and meeting their specific needs.

The URBIS project aims to support European spatial urban planning in general and land use planners and land (re-)development agencies in particular and will answer the needs of strategic and operational users in this field (regional & local authorities, urban development agencies, national & EC level institutions). Vacant urban land can present very different characteristics depending on the level of development and previous use of the land. As a result, depending on their size, location and previous use, they could be redeveloped with minimum inputs (e.g. development of a green park from fallow land with no previous use) or will require substantial remediation work (development of a housing estate on potentially contaminated land). The lack of knowledge about site condition and characteristics often hampers their redevelopment. Although information exists locally, it is often patchy, incomplete and spread over different organisations. Moreover, there is a lack of consistent information at European level making it difficult to exchange and compare data.

Nevertheless, nowadays conditions exist for the development and implementation of a methodology to set up European information services on vacant land. URBIS project will identify, develop and validate operational potential of standard open-data provided under Copernicus programme and other public initiatives under the European Open Data Strategy for land recycling support. The development of such an information services under sustainable business model could provide major suport in the promotion of recycling existing urban sites thus contributing to the reduction of urban sprawl in Europe.




3rd Technical Meeting

Third technical coordination meeting will be held on September 9–10th 2015 in Prague in GISAT premises. The main aim of the meeting is finalization of the first prototype of the URBIS services and coordination of the plan beyond M18.

P1 Review Meeting

URBIS project has passed M12. P1 Review Meeting will be held on May 7th 2015 in EU premises in Luxembourg.

URBIS SHB Workshop

URBIS Stakeholder Board Workshop will be held on March 26th 2015 in UK Research Office premises in Brussels. Discussion will be framed by requirements coming from resource efficiency agenda as recently reflected in upcoming UN Habitat3 or EU Land Communication development and the question how these initiatives can be effectively supported on the regional or local level and how URBIS project can contribute in these activities. SHB workshop provides excellent opportunity to foster board members engagement with participation from project team, DG REGIO and DG ENV, JRC, EEA, EEA, ETC-ULS and some urban planning experts.

URBIS will present on IUME Meeting

URBIS project will be presented on 8th IUME (Integrated Urban Management in Europe) group organised by EEA on March 25th 2015 in Eurocities premises in Brussels. The topic of the meeting is “the future urban challenges“.

2nd Technical Meeting

Second technical coordination meeting will be held on January 27–28th 2015 in Leipzig in STADT+ premises. The aim of the meeting is specification of the first portfolio of the URBIS services described both from user and technical point of view.

You can see the URBIS project partners spatial distribution on the map above.

The URBIS project consortium is lead by GISAT s.r.o.:

icon 4 Project coordinator: Tomas Soukup

icon 1 GISAT s.r.o., Milady Horakove 57, 170 00 Praha 7, Czech Republic

icon 2(+420) 270-003-735

icon 3 www.gisat.cz

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URBIS project has received funding from the EU FP7 ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.

Grant Agreement No. 621125