2011 Joint Urban Remote Sensing Event (2011 JURSE)

GRSS logoPaolo Gamba, guest editor for our current Urban Monitoring theme, wrote this article for the June 2011 edition of the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) Newsletter. It is reprinted here with permission.

Following the traditional schedule, the 2011 Joint Urban Remote Sensing event was held in Munich, Germany, on April 10–13, 2011. The conference was hosted by the Technical University of Munich and gathered people involved in research on the topic of urban remote sensing coming from 28 countries in 5 continents. The conference attendance was around 200 people, in line with past editions of the same event, showing that a strong community is backing the event, as also shown by the 44 professionals from academia, research centres and companies involved in the Technical Committee.

The venue of the conference and the historical area surrounding it, full with museums, offered an interesting contrast with the 2009 venue, Shanghai. It also stressed the challenges coming from the study with remote sensors in different urban areas in the world, and importance of adapting any technique to the local and regional context. As opposite to the differences in the urban structure, the conference organization proved as excellent as it was in Shanghai, with accurate preparation and management of the sessions and a perfect choice of the social events.

Technical co-sponsorship for the conference was granted by the usual number of societies representing all the different scientific actors in the urban remote sensing research field: the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society of the IEEE, three ISPRS Working Groups, ASPRS, EARSeL URSI Commission F and ICA. Moreover, EuroSDR (spatial Data Research) and DGPF (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Proteomforschung) was involved, and the European Space Agency (ESA) provided a grant that the Conference Chairs decided to use for the student Prize competition. Specifically, 10 papers by students from all over the world were selected, and their author invited at no fee and with lodging expense covered to attend the conference and a Student Special Session, in two parts.

The number of papers submitted required a huge effort from the Conference Chairs to select the 10 best papers and an even greater effort to rank them after the presentation. Eventually, the paper by Thoreau Rory Tooke (the University of British Columbia, Australia) was awarded the first prize, with Diego Reale (CNR-IREA, Italy) ranking second and Y. Wang (DLR, Germany) third.

As for the technical program, the major change introduced this year was the full paper submission, as opposite to the abstract submission accepted until 2009. This choice, although possibly caused a reduction of the papers submitted, was meant to improve the quality of the workshop, allowing the Technical Committee a more accurate evaluation of the authors’ proposals. Eventually, 70 papers were accepted for oral presentation, and other 47 more for the interactive session. The former ones were organized in two parallel oral sessions, while the poster display was organized in the early afternoon of one of the days, before a round of oral sessions, to encourage everyone to attend, and this choice proved to be correct and fruitful: we’ll follow this path in next editions!

Three Special Sessions with invited talks were organized by researchers well-known in their own specific fields, including a Session on the Urbanization project within the Dragon II program,sponsored by ESA and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

Moreover, following the tradition to highlight new ideas in urban remote sensing and invite people from different realms using urban remote sensing data in their specific field of operation, even this year two keynotes speakers were invited. Prof. Jon. A. Benediktsson from the University of Iceland, current President of GRSS, provided an interesting and very detailed analysis of current research trends in mathematical morphology applied to remotely sensed data, while Prof. Rumor, current President of the Urban Data Management Society (UDMS), described the activities and aims of UDMS and suggested paths for useful collaborations between the people attending the conference and this society.

As mentioned before, social events at the 2011 JURSE were extremely well organized, from the icebreaker to the social dinner, preceded by a walking tour of the area between the conference and the dinner venue with detailed historical descriptions by the local Organizing Committee. Munich did not disappoint anyone hoping for a good beer, and the social dinner, including the award ceremony for the Student Paper prize, featured a group of alpine horns’ players who won’tbe easily forgotten.

In the spirit to move the event outside Europe every other edition, the 2013 joint event will be hosted by the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciai (INPE) and Pontificia Universitade Catolica de Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and the venue will be Sao Paulo, in Brazil. Sao Paulo is one of the South American mega cities, affected by specific problems in managing connected urban issues (e.g., air pollution, heavy traffic,…), and the expectations for the 2013 JURSE is already high, given the excellent record of conferences already organized by the local team.

Finally, and following the tradition of the Special Issues of the IEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Applications of Remote Sensing (the one about JURSE 2009 was published in March 2011), a new call for paper was already distributed to the conference attendees. The Guest Editors of this issue will be the four Conference Co-Chairs: the “historical trio” of Paolo Gamba, Deria Maktav and Carsten Juergens, andthe local organizer, Prof. Uwe Stilla. The deadline is set to October 31st, 2011, and the issue topic reflects the changes of the last few years while keeping a connection with the tradition of the events: “Human settlement monitoring using multiple EO data.”

Paolo Gamba
JURSE 2011 General Co-Chair

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 GRSS Newsletter (download the full pdf).