An object-based image analysis for building seismic vulnerability assessment using high-resolution remote sensing imagery

Hao Wu, Zhiping Cheng, Wen Zhong Shi, Zelang Miao, Chenchen Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Building seismic vulnerability assessment plays an important role in formulating pre-disaster mitigation strategies for developing countries. The occurrence of high-resolution satellite sensors has greatly motivated it by providing a promising approach to obtain building information. However, this also brings a big challenge to the accurate building extraction and its coherent integration with the assessment model. The main objective of this paper is to investigate how to extract building attributes from high-resolution remote sensing imagery using the object-based image analysis (OBIA) method, so as to accurately and conveniently assess building seismic vulnerability by the combination of in situ field data. A general framework for the assessment of building seismic vulnerability is presented, including (1) the extraction of building information using OBIA, (2) building height estimation, and (3) the support vector machine (SVM)-based building seismic vulnerability assessment. Particularly, an integrated solution is proposed that merges the strengths of multiple spatial contextual relationships and some typical image object measures, under the unified framework to improve building information extraction at different scale levels as well as for different interest objects. With the aid of 35 building samples from two powerful earthquakes in China, the cloud-free WorldView-2 images and some building structure parameters from field survey were used to quantity the grades of building seismic vulnerability in Wuhan Optics Valley, China. The results show that all 48 buildings among the study area have been well detected with an overall accuracy of 80.67 % and the mean error of heights estimated from building shadow is less than 2 m. This indicates that the integrated analysis strategy based on OBIA is suitable for extracting the building information from high-resolution remote sensing imagery. Additionally, the assessment results using SVM show that the building seismic vulnerability is statistically significantly related to structure types and building heights. Both the proposed OBIA method and its integration strategy with SVM are easily implemented and provide readily interpretable assessment results for building seismic vulnerability. This reveals that the proposed method has a great potential to assist urban planners for making local disaster mitigation planning through the prioritization of intervention measures, such as the reinforcement of walls and the dismantlement of endangered houses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-174
Number of pages24
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Building height estimation
  • Building information extraction
  • Building seismic vulnerability assessment
  • Object-based image analysis
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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