Soil sealing identification and monitoring system

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

Soil continues to be sealed and advances in data sources (e.g. Copernicus) and technology (e.g. cloud-based systems, Earth Observation (EO) data cubes) have changed what can be regularly identified and monitored, but trusted analytical workflows have not yet adapted to these advances.

There are international mandates (e.g. UN SDG 15.3) to reliably and repeatably identify and monitor land degradation nationally. However, existing methods do not serve national requirements, or are not mature enough to inform decision-makers or shape policy.

There is a clear need to develop methods that leverage high velocity EO data sources with newer technology in close collaboration with institutions that have provincial and national level interests in order to generate meaningful disaggregated, provincial and national level information. This is necessary for indicators related to land degradation, including soil sealing, but is relevant beyond this thematic scope.

Contents and goals

SIMS (Soil sealing identification and monitoring system) aims to engage multiple users with invested interests in incorporating information derived from free and open EO data towards a proof-of-concept implementation they understand, trust and explicitly meets their needs.


This project will prototypically implement such a service in close collaboration with the Province of Salzburg’s spatial planning department and other institutional partners (Statistics Austria, BMLRT, Umweltbundesamt, Lower Austrian Federal Government - department of spatial planning and transport affairs, Lower Austrian authority of land reform - department of rural development).

Web-browser-based access with graphical user interfaces requiring no programming skills and tools for seamless GIS integration will give non-EO experts thousands of Copernicus data sets at their fingertips, thus better informing reporting and decision-making. Continued active user trainings on the prototypical application will lower entry barriers, shape the service and increase its acceptance as a useful and trusted tool.

Expected results

SIMS aims to:

  • Provide public authorities access to Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery as analysis-ready-data;
  • increase awareness of free and open multi-temporal optical satellite data and willingness to incorporate Copernicus data and information derivatives into public authorities’ daily workflows. Exemplarily, this is planned on provincial and national levels in Austria;
  • the worldwide unique semantic EO data cube prototype developed in the FFG-funded project will be advanced for scalability up to a national level using pre-configured area-of-interests and user-friendly, ready-to-use services to facilitate recurring monitoring needs.
  • Enable non EO-experts to develop and conduct custom multi-temporal (inter- and intra-annual) EO-based analysis by using a semantic EO data cube, semantic models, and user-friendly interfaces. Core users will be included from the beginning and trained to use the semantic EO data cube interfaces. Their expert knowledge will be formalised in comprehensive, re-usable, repeatable semantic models for EO analysis, augmenting the system’s knowledgebase.
  • Prototypically conduct reproducible and transferable ad-hoc semantic queries in the context of soil sealing towards meeting pressing needs for monitoring, reporting, decision making and spatial planning tools. Results will include condensed hot-spot map information products.
  • Facilitate non-static Sentinel-2 multi-temporal derivatives and information products to enrich existing VHR monitoring approaches. These dynamic, multi-temporal derivatives and products will be showcased in the prototypical implementation and tested for validity as a cost-efficient multi-temporal product (intra- and inter-annual). They will be evaluated against VHR static products to test enriching them with HR multi-temporal satellite analyses.

Project Partners


University of Salzburg

Project partner

Spatial Services GmbH


Contact Address

University of Salzburg
Dipl. Ing. (BA) Steffen Reichel
Schillerstr. 30
A-5020 Salzburg