Amber Lee

Data Management Specialist

January 27, 2014

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Easy Ways To Distinguish Land Use

Using online tools to understand land use relationships.

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中文版

Understanding land use by populations is becoming a crucial component in business analysis. It’s already well known that the economic energy of a city and it’s population make-up has a positive relationship in the field of business analysis, but in addition to knowing the total population of the city, knowing the outer administrative districts of a population for micro-scale population distribution can be especially helpful in understanding land use. Land use and human life has a close relationship; consider these typical land use relationships as an illustration of this point:

  • Densely populated areas will contain economic aggregates.
  • Central business districts will benefit business clusters.
  • Industrial zones will contribute to the economic benefits by attracting industry.

Understanding spatial distribution of a population is a major weapon for modern commercial space analysis. Currently, there are several ways to begin analyzing land use. While some techniques require massive investments in human and financial resources, there are currently less expensive methods available now as well. This includes, but is not limited to, sending field workers out to investigate target areas and or using low cost satellite imagery. Most projects under economic pressure will choose to use satellite images as the main methods of uncovering real spatial distribution of target populations. The following represent the four best options for using satellite imagery for distinguishing land use.

Google Earth

Google Earth is a good choice for distinguishing land use because of it’s rich database layers, including street names, parks, 3D buildings, etc. Google Earth also provides rich data on a large variety of locations, like hotels, shopping centers, government buildings, banks, schools, and more. In addition, Google Earth allows users to upload and share photos contain geo-tagged information, allowing other users to decipher various location specific information.

Google Maps

Using Google street maps can be useful when looking at maps of non-native systems. Google Maps street view is one of the best virtual reality mapping tools available, and can quickly help users understand a locations current situation. Even some developing countries without a fully developed street view map will provide a useful network of photographs for location reference, making the tool useful for land use analysis with or without street view.

Wikimapia

Wikimapia is the open source version of Google maps, with a very similar interface and usage style. Users can zoom in on the map as close as house level, where users can also use colored mouse-over borders to display or add information about those specific areas. 

Baidu Maps

In China, Baidu Maps satellite image map data will update much faster then Google Maps or Earth, which often makes it a better choice for mapping land use in China. In addition to providing point data, address, and phone data, Baidu also provides the appearance of whole buildings enclosed in one photograph , which can be a very good reference resource.