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  Regional Analysis Division R & D Activities

The emphasis of the research is on the development of tools and methods for urban, regional and environmental analysis. Specifically, researchers of the division are involved in:  

  • Urban Analysis
  • Spatial decision support system
  • The Remote Sensing Laboratory
  • Spatial and spatiotemporal statistical modeling
  • Geographical Information Systems applications
  • Web GIS
  • Intelligent Transportation systems
  • Sustainable Development Assessment Tools
 

Urban Analysis

In the last fifty years urban areas worldwide are growing rapidly. Concentration of people leads to easy connectivity, economies of scale and higher productivity, increased buildup densities and changes in lifestyles, it has however, adverse impacts on the environment. Some of the urban analysis research topics studied in the group include:

  • The distribution of land uses and buildup densities to identify urban form and sprawl characteristics,
  • Social area analysis, that is the analysis of the socio-economic characteristics of the population to identify neighborhoods with common characteristics, the location of segments of the population in need, etc.,
  • Urban growth models,
  • Urban metabolism and the way it affects consumption of various resources,
  • Urban climate research focusing on: analyzing satellite and UAV observations to derive urban surface morphology, cover and fabric; identifying Local Climate Zones, developing footprint models to deal with urban surface anisotropy; monitoring urban energy balance; analyzing urban heat island, thermal comfort and energy efficiency; analyzing Eddy Covariance observation to estimate CO2 emissions and adjusting methods for pollutants dispersion in the urban boundary layer.
  • The concentration of air particles in urban areas,
  • The analysis of traffic patterns in the street networks of urban areas
 

Spatial decision support system

SDSS are information systems for supporting decision making and have extensive applications in environmental planning, resources allocation, business decision making and other fields. Through an integrated and user-friendly environment, they bring together simulation models, GIS databases, impact assessment methodologies and decision rules. The research of the group concentrates on the integration of simulation models with the GIS systems, the development of various spatial datasets and the design of the end user interface. Application areas studied in the group include:

  • Simulation of natural disasters such as floods and forest fires,
  • Leaks detection in municipal water distribution systems,
  • Mapping noise levels in urban areas.
 

The Remote Sensing Laboratory

The Remote Sensing Laboratory (http://rslab.gr) concentrates in the field of Earth Observation (EO) and its area of research is the study of environmental phenomena and problems. The Lab operates a Wireless Sensors Network and a Micrometeorological Tower carrying Eddy Covariance and Net Radiation Infrastructures in the city of Heraklion. The Lab owns computational facilities and also it has access to cloud computing Infrastructures, such as Google Earth Engine and European Space Agency Urban-TEP, to analyze long time series of high spatial resolution satellite observations (Big Data). In the last ten years, the Lab has played a leading role in the domain of Urban Remote Sensing at European level, by coordinating relevant FP7, ERA.Net and H2020 projects, by publishing several articles in peer-review journals annually and by organizing and chairing Urban Remote Sensing sessions in the frame of big symposia, such as SPIE and JURSE. The focus of the activities of the Lab are on the analysis of both urban and natural environments.

  • Concerning urban environment, the main focus is on urban climate and on urban planning, with emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation activities. More specifically, areas of research include the estimation of energy, water and carbon exchanges between the surface and the atmosphere. Several city typologies and climatically meaningful urban zoning systems are derived based on satellite observations. EO is used to monitor the dynamic changes of urban surface cover, fabric and morphology, providing quantitative estimates of relevant surface and atmospheric parameters, as well as, environmental indicators for supporting urban planning and management and assessing sustainability.
  • Concerning natural environment, the Lab activities focus on environmental monitoring and development of methods for exploiting Earth Observation in improving future ecosystems, ecosystems services, as well as in supporting risk management for natural hazards.

Spatial and spatiotemporal statistical modeling

The goal of spatial/spatiotemporal statistical modeling is to analyze datasets with spatial/spatiotemporal information to identify the underlying relationships and patterns and to compute predictions of unknown quantities in space and time. Bayesian space-time models, spatial econometrics, eigenvector filtering, and multivariate analysis are some of the techniques used. Areas of applications include:

  • Short-term traffic forecasting and incident detection,
  • Epidemiology,
  • Analysis of environmental data,
  • Geodemography,
  • Regional economics.
 

Geographical Information Systems applications

GIS are information systems that can store, analyze and display digital maps. Since they are the only information systems that can handle spatial data they have many applications in the fields of urban and regional analysis, natural resources management, environmental monitoring etc. Some of the recent projects the group has been involved in this domain include:

  • Municipal water distribution systems,
  • GIS databases for urban areas with statistical data and land use information,
  • Organization of cultural heritage data following the INPIRE directive,
  • Watershed analysis,
  • GIS based system for tracking the progress of the Olympic games construction projects
   

Web GIS

Web GIS is the research area concentrating on the development of GIS applications on the web, using datasets residing in different servers and/or the cloud. Researchers of the group are involved in the field since the late 90’s developing applets and methodologies for displaying georeferenced maps on the web. Implementations have been carried out for:

  • Forest fires simulation,
  • Coastal zone management,
  • City portals,
  • Finding the closest health facility,
  • Land Surface Temperature (global coverage, full Landsat archive)
  • Albedo trends (global coverage, full MODIS archive)
  • Information Systems for urban environmental indicators
  • Information System for the Wireless Sensors Network of Heraklion
  • Information System for the Micrometeorological tower of Heraklion
 

Intelligent Transportation systems

Development of systems for providing on-line real-time traffic information and the analysis of traffic data have been research focuses of the group since the late 90’s. Early applications for disseminating traffic information on the web were developed for the city of Chania in Crete (1998-2001), while in 2008-2011 researchers of the group collaborated with private companies to develop a web site with maps and real time traffic information for the Athens region. Another highly innovative research in this domain has been the analysis of traffic data with space time statistical models to analyze traffic patterns and compute short-term forecasts of critical traffic variables like volumes, speeds and occupancies.  

Sustainable Development Assessment Tools

Τhe R&D activities of the group also include the development of indicators for assessing sustainability. These are particularly useful for planning agencies, local, regional and national authorities and stakeholders for evaluating development patterns and therefore implement in practice sustainability. A sample of the activities that researchers of the group are involved include:

  • Earth Observation derived Indicators for sustainable urban planning and management,
  • Development of a methodology and a set of indicators for sustainable tourism, formulation of policy goals and related criteria