Digital Earth for a Physical World – Geospatial Big Data Sources

Main Data Sources We Analyse

High resolution digital aerial imagery

Digital Satellite and Aerial Imagery at All Spatial Resolutions

  • Low- to medium-resolution satellite imagery (e.g. NASA/USGS MODIS and Landsat, ESA Sentinel)
  • Medium- to high-resolution satellite imagery (e.g. 5m-resolution RapidEye, 1.5m-resolution SPOT 6/7)
  • High-resolution satellite imagery (e.g. 30cm-resolution WorldView-3, 50cm-resolution Pléiades)
  • Very high-resolution digital aerial imagery (e.g. 10cm resolution), including those captured by the new-generation drones/UAV/UAS
SRTM 30m, 90m

Digital Elevation Model and LiDAR Point Clouds

  • Medium-resolution DEMs for a near-global coverage (e.g. NASA/USGS 90m- and 30m-resolution SRTM)
  • Medium- to high-resolution elevation mosaic at the country level (e.g. 10m-resolution)
  • High-resolution DEMs derived from satellite stereo pairs (e.g. 2m-resolution from WorldView-2)
  • LiDAR point clouds, photogrammetric point clouds, including those from the recent drones/UAV/UAS captures
1997 - 2015 EL NINO comparison animation

El Niño: 1997 vs. 2015 (Source: NASA JPL)

Climate and Weather

  • Historical weather records across monitoring stations (e.g. usually from national meteorological agencies)
  • Historical climate grids (e.g. typically derived from the time series of weather records)
  • Climate cycles data (e.g. ENSO, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation – AMO, the Indian Ocean Dipole – IOD) and global/regional climate change forecast
  • Data from the new generation of meteorological satellites (e.g. JMA Himawari-8 imagery with a high revisit frequency of minutes)
2012 Hurricane Sandy

2012 Hurricane Sandy (Source: NASA EO,  NASA LANCE)

Natural Hazards

  • Near real-time monitoring and modelled data for tectonic and geologic hazards (e.g. earthquake and tsunami)
  • Near real-time monitoring and modelled data for meteorological hazards (e.g. flood and cyclone)
  • Near real-time social media communication data in response to major disasters worldwide
  • Fresh Earth observation data in response to major disasters worldwide
Google Street, Street View, Google Earth, Land Parcel, Features of Interest

Source: Google Maps

Street, Address, Land Parcel and Property Location

  • Street networks
  • Physical addresses and locations for residential, commercial and industrial assets
  • Cadastre and land parcels
  • Building footprints
LandScan - global population data at 1km resolution

LandScan global population distribution (Source: ORNL)

Infrastructure, Population, Dwellings and other Census Stats

  • Infrastructure (e.g. roads, railways, telecommunications, energy, utilities and drainage)
  • Population, dwellings and other socioeconomic attributes from national census
  • Hierarchical spatial digital boundaries used by national census
  • Modelled ambient population distributions for lager areas


  • Land cover, land use
  • Environmental pollution (e.g. air, water and soil)
  • Business data (e.g. insurance portfolio and claims)
  • Traffic flows