South African Journal of Geomatics

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Large scale mapping: an empirical comparison of pixel-based and object-based classifications of remotely sensed data

Innocent E. Bello, Njike Chigbu, Ganiy I. Agbaje


In the past, large scale mapping was carried using precise ground survey methods. Later, paradigm shift in data collection using medium to low resolution and, recently, high resolution images brought to bear the problem of accurate data analysis and fitness-for-purpose challenges. Using high resolution satellite images such as QuickBird and IKONOS are now preferred alternatives. This paper is aimed at comparing pixel-based (PIXBIA) and Geo-object-based (GEOBIA) classification methods using ENVI 4.8 and eCongnition software respectively, and ArcGIS 10.1 for map layout creation. It uses Aba main city in south-eastern Nigeria as a case study. The paper further evaluates the classification accuracies obtained using error matrix and then test the classifications’ agreement to geographic reality using Kappa Coefficient statistical analysis. Analyzing 2012 QuickBird image as a proof of concept, the study shows that the object-based approach had a higher overall accuracy (OA= 98.75%) than the pixel-based approach (OA=79.44%). With a Kappa Coefficient of K=0.97 (very good) for object-based approach and K=0.62 (good) for pixel-based, the object-based method showed a higher class separability between and among examined geographic objects such as water, bare-land and tree canopy as evidenced in the Golf Course under re-construction in Aba city. In addition, the object-based results also show a higher overall producer accuracy (PA=98.42% > PA=85.37) and user accuracy (UA=96.70 > UA=81.04%) respectively. The paper, therefore, recommends that object-based classification method be applied in analyzing high resolution satellite image. The approach is also recommended for mapping urban areas in developing countries such as Nigeria where the paucity of fund required in flying airplane for the production of orthophotos is a major challenge in large scale mapping.

Keywords: Image Classification, Object-based Classification, Pixel-based Classification, Remote Sensing, Urban Planning and Mapping.
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