In April 2018 the U-TEP consortium successfully completed the 8-month pre-operational test phase. In this timeframe, a selected group of pilot users from key international institutions and initiatives was enabled to test and evaluate the full scope of services and products offered by the platform.
The community of early adopters included, among others, the World Bank Group, United Nations, World Food Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WorldPop, Group on Earth Observation, Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, Columbia University, and Sultan Qaboos University.
Besides testing already existing functionalities, “early adopters” were also allowed to define and conduct more comprehensive studies which even required the development, deployment and application of completely new tools and services. These pilot projects were, for instance, dedicated to:
- discriminating functional urban areas by jointly exploiting population density and settlement spatial extent information;
- generating orthomosaics and digital surface models (DSM) from mass image collections acquired with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV);
- monitoring of the spatiotemporal human settlements development in Oman;
- mapping of population exposure related to hazards;
- testing an enhanced modelling of population distribution based on U-TEP’s new global layers such as the GUF/GUF-DenS.
Based on the experiences and lessons learnt, the U-TEP consortium is currently optimising the system and the whole portfolio of available services to be prepared for the on-boarding of all interested users and the provision of additional novel products and analytics tools by end of the year.