Center for Environmental Science Applications (CESA)

Finding solutions to sustainability challenges by linking ideas, people and resources

100 Cities is a NASA-funded program to collect satellite-based remote sensing data from cities around the world in order to support socioeconomic and biogeographic comparisons and to build collaborations among urban practitioners and scientists. An underlying goal is to discover the inherent taxonomy of cities through measurement and classification of as many urban sites as possible, in order to better inform them about sustainable development options. 100 Cities also seeks partnerships with academic or government groups in each city that can help identify the most critical urban sustainability challenges in that region. 100 Cities relies primarily on data from the ASTER instrument, but also includes MODIS and LANDSAT images.

CESA is currently in discussions with the World Bank's Finance, Economics and Urban Department about partnering on a series of Urban Vulnerability Assessments for 400 of the world's most populous cities. This exercise would help guide future allocations for urban adaptation strategies worldwide. The 100 Cities Project would provide remote sensing images that would become part of a standardized set of tools used to estimate the risks faced by the world's cities due to climate change and other anthropogenic and natural environmental threats. 100 Cities may also offer training in remote sensing image interpretation for local officials. The World Bank plans to roll out its Urban Vulnerability Assessment program at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro in March 2010. The first four cities for which CESA is developing this methodology are Sao Paolo, Bangkok, Dar Es Salaam and Amman.

100 Cities is directed by Lela Prashad, in conjunction with Phil Christensen and Jon Fink, and benefits from the assistance of several staff members of ASU's Mars Space Flight Facility and graduate students in ASU's School of Sustainability and School of Earth and Space Exploration.