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Using Space-based Earth Imagery for Topological Analysis of Buildings and Roads Networks




16: Aeronautics and Astronautics

Faculty Supervisor:

Olivier de Weck

Faculty email:


Apply by:

May 15, 2020


Please send a resume to Dr. Afreen Siddiqi (siddiqi@mit.edu) and Prof. Olivier de Weck (deweck@mit.edu)

Project Description

Buildings and road networks have important implications on efficiency of transportation, costs, vehicular emissions, and several economic and environmental outcomes. Newly available, high-resolution (3-5m) earth imagery data from Planet Labs can be used to extract networks of buildings and roads for novel topological analysis. This project aims to use this earth imagery data to empirically characterize the footprint of buildings and roads, and create network (graph) models for selected globally distributed cities. The network models will be used to determine morphological features of the human-built systems, and a comparative analysis for different global regions will be conducted. Additionally, the dynamics of the morphological attributes over time will be studied. The overall results of this work will be used for developing and testing hypotheses for growth and development of human-built infrastructure. The key tasks involved in the project include: 1. Develop algorithms for defining network models of roads and buildings from satellite images. 2. Develop software for generating graphs (networks) of road networks in selected cities. 3. Analyze network topology and key attributes of change and growth. 4. Assist in preparing technical reports and documentation of work


Experience with MATLAB and/or python. Experience with networkX library in python and/or network toolbox and image processing toolbox in Matlab, and ArcMap (or other Geographic Information Systems tools) desired but not required.