Detecting man-made structures and changes in satellite imagery with a content-based information retrieval system built on self-organizing maps

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42 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing amount and resolution of satellite sensors demand new techniques for browsing remote sensing image archives. Content-based querying allows an efficient retrieval of images based on the information they contain, rather than their acquisition date or geographical extent. Self-organizing maps (SOMs) have been successfully applied in the PicSOM system to content-based image retrieval in databases of conventional images. In this paper, we investigate and extend the potential of PicSOM for the analysis of remote sensing data. We propose methods for detecting man-made structures, as well as supervised and unsupervised change detection, based on the same framework. In this paper, a database was artificially created by splitting each satellite image to be analyzed into small images. After training the PicSOM on this imagelet database, both interactive and off-line queries were made to detect man-made structures, as well as changes between two very high resolution images from different years. Experimental results were both evaluated quantitatively and discussed qualitatively, and suggest that this new approach is suitable for analyzing very high resolution optical satellite imagery. Possible applications of this work include interactive detection of man-made structures or supervised monitoring of sensitive sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-874
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2007
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



  • Change detection
  • Content-based information retrieval
  • High-resolution optical satellite images
  • Man-made structure detection
  • Self-organizing maps (SOMs)

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