Applications and Trends of Remote Sensing in Professional Urban Planning



Remote sensing and remotely sensed data provide a spatial understanding of the complex physical characteristics, land uses, growth patterns, resource distributions, environmental pressures, technological changes, and socioeconomic needs of built environments. Despite the potential for remote sensing use in urban planning, a disconnect seems evident between academic research on remote sensing applications in an urban planning context and the actual adoption and use of remotely sensed technologies and data by professional urban planners. A survey of 69 planning agencies in the metro-Atlanta area revealed aerial photographs (n = 42) as the most commonly acquired and utilized remote sensing data. By comparison, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data and satellite imagery had far fewer adoptions, particularly by local planning agencies. In addition, many new techniques and applications suggested by academic research as beneficial for urban planning were not being employed by professional urban planners. Of the four tenets identified for limited remote sensing adoption and use – application technical, expertise, and financial – all but financial constraints appeared to be a factor.