Urban agriculture with EO technology

Urban settlements replacing agricultural lands

To meet the socio-economic demand of our increasing city-based population, new urban settlements and developments are replacing lands that were formerly covered with diverse crops. As a result, the tradeoff between urban expansion and agricultural sustainability is becoming a major challenge for most of the world’s metropolitan cities. 

Scientists at Arba Minch University and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) are working with support from Water Security Hub to produce a scalable and adaptable platform for tracking and quantifying the spatiotemporal change of urban agricultural areas anywhere in the world.

Through the GEO-GEE Program run by Google, GEO and EO Data Science, the EO Data Science team is providing Scientists at Arba Minch University and IWMI Google Earth Engine training, support and billing capabilities.

Uncontrolled urban expansion

Urban agriculture plays an indispensable role in feeding the population living in cities and providing ecological services. However, most of the land used or that is suitable for growing crops in surrounding cities of developing nations are rapidly transforming into settlements due to a higher rate of population increment and uncontrolled urban expansion. As a result, the paradox between the increasing food demand and shrinkage of farming areas is a challenge facing many cities in the developing world.

Urban Agriculture Intensity monitoring tool

Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia, home to over five million residents which are expected to reach around nine million by 2035. This rapid population increment of the city is resulting in an unprecedented expansion of built-up areas encroaching on farmlands. 

In response, Arba Minch University and IWMI are creating an interactive Urban Agriculture Intensity (UAI) monitoring tool that will generate quantified knowledge by articulating recent changes to urban agricultural intensity in Addis Ababa. Utilising the Google Earth Engine (GEE) licenses and training provided by EO Data Science, they are able to access several Earth observation datasets, explore different artificial intelligence computation approaches, and share their findings through an interactive platform.

Improving cities living environment

By making the UAI monitoring tool easily transferable, Arba Minch University and IWMI will be able to support the decision-making processes related to urban agriculture planning and implementation across the world.

Furthermore, they will be able to question how, where, and when changes to the urban environment happened. The outcome will contribute to the second and eleventh UN Sustainable Development Goals that focus on eliminating hunger and ensuring sustainable cities, respectively. 

All these findings will benefit researchers, urban planners, policymakers and practitioners to improve cities' living environment for their inhabitants.

EO Data Science's role in the GEO-GEE program

EO Data Science partnered with Google Earth Engine and the Group on Earth Observations to launch the GEO-GEE Program in July 2020. 32 projects across 22 countries were selected for the program which offers $3 million USD towards product licenses and $1 million USD in technical support from EO Data Science to help operationalise their science as they strive to tackle the world’s biggest sustainable development challenges. So far EO Data Science has: 




Conducted 38 Google Earth Engine training courses attended by 680 program participants

Resolved 105 support tickets with a live support desk

Organised five virtual meetups for projects across the world to exchange knowledge and network with one another


talk about your agriculture project

EO Data Science loves to look at the world from space to answer questions about our planet, but we can also help you get the information you need to transform your business or reach your organisational goals. Get in touch with us to collaborate on your next project!

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