Since the adoption of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention in 1972, the UNESCO compiled a list of 1,073 World Heritage Sites, based on cultural, natural and mixed properties, respectively. Designated sites of UNESCO are distinguished by their outstanding universal value for mankind. However, an increasing number of these sites are labeled as “In Danger”, with the possibility that those values will get lost. Currently, 54 UNESCO World Heritages Sites, especially in Africa and the Arab States, are considered endangered, often caused by armed conflicts, natural disasters, and urban sprawl. For the management and monitoring of these sites, Earth observation data offer considerable potentials.
The Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) as part of the Department of Geography at Heidelberg University of Education developed “Space2Place” as contribution to the Copernicus Master Challenge in 2016. As winner of the category “University Challenge”, the e-learning course aims at empowering stakeholders of UNESCO sites to incorporate Earth observation data into their daily working routines. Backbone of Space2Place is an e-learning environment, established in the framework of the project “Space4Geography” and funded by the DLR from 2013 – 2017. The whole module is developed as a blended-learning approach. It provides key features such as optimized presentation of the learning units on different end user devices, introduction to various Earth observation applications, e.g. deforestation, forest fire mapping, drought mapping, monitoring of air pollution, integration of various optical satellite images, e.g. Sentinel 2, Landsat 8, MODIS, and RapidEye, interactive approach and integration of different media, and interim and final quizzes to check learning success. Similar to other developed learning modules by rgeo, Space2Place is adaptable and can be dynamically combined to personalized learning paths with real-time adaptation of content and complexity, depending on the student’s performance in test units. The introduction to Earth observation methods and tools is linked with an easy-to-use web-based remote sensing application, called “BLIF”. The connected application comprises a large set of useful satellite data processing functions, including image enhancement, analysis and digital image processing tools, which are explained by and linked to practical exercises.
The improved understanding of inherent benefits of Earth observation technologies will enable participants of “Space2Place” to incorporate Earth observation data for customized monitoring of ongoing environmental, economic and social processes according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and related indicators. Furthermore, participants will stimulate the communication about Earth observation methods, datasets, and tools as well as actively promote Earth observation in a wider context as valuable contribution to preserve our cultural and natural heritage.
Alexander Siegmund and Tobias Matusch, "Utilize Earth observation data via Space2Place: empower stakeholders of UNESCO sites to preserve cultural and natural heritage (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10790, Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications IX, 1079007 (Presented at SPIE Remote Sensing: September 11, 2018; Published: 11 October 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2500642.5847433779001.
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