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I am doing a household survey in Kenya, and I need to ensure that my survey team visits every house within a given area. I've been going to google maps and right-clicking on roofs to get coordinates via the "what's here" option. This is really an inefficient use of time.

I'd prefer to have a high-resolution image that I could upload to google earth engine, and then perform a machine-learning algorithm to identify roofs. I'd want to get a text file of the lat/longs of all the houses, which I could then cluster by distance and give to my surveyors, both in map and in checklist format.

But the images in google maps satellite view are copyrighted and not available in earth engine. So I need images at high-enough resolution to identify corrugated iron and straw thatch roofs, with roughly ~3km^2 spatial extent.

What are some good sources for such data? Ideally that will give it freely or cheaply to graduate students and/or nonprofits?

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Have you looked at This site contains high resolution OrbView data. I'm not 100% sure about the licensing though. – Devdatta Tengshe May 22 '13 at 6:31
Thanks for the comment. Unless I'm doing something wrong with the interface, it doesn't look like orbview has images for the places where I'm working. – generic_user May 22 '13 at 6:40
Even I'm getting the same result. Looks like this data isn't present in your area of study. :-( – Devdatta Tengshe May 22 '13 at 6:57
I'm going to assume that a house with a corrugated iron or straw thatch roof can be assembled quite quickly, in which case you need to be mindful of data currency. For example I have previously seen data in Google Earth that is > 5 years out of date – tomfumb Jul 14 '13 at 22:55

You might want to checkout the MapBox Satellite layer. It's available under their Basic Plan, which is $5 a month. I believe the layer is distributed as TMS tiles, and you can review the granularity and coverage of the layer before you commit to anything.

Admittedly, though, this would be more difficult to apply to your use case, but surely not impossible, as GDAL could be used to mosaic the tiles.

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Not exactly "high-resolution," but the price is right.

Esri's World Imagery map service presents satellite imagery for the world and high-resolution imagery for the United States and other areas around the world.

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I think you out of luck on finding high resolution imagery that hosted for free, but you may be able to make a request here Geoeye Foundation

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The Copernicus project of ESA is supposed to be freely downloadable, when it's running...

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

a link would be helpful.. – Mapperz Apr 7 '14 at 14:26
Welcome to! Could you provide an example - link or image - to the Copernicus project? What kind of data does it host? How up-to-date? – Simbamangu Apr 7 '14 at 14:52
According to the first of 6 satellites has just shot into orbit last week. It might take some time until worldwide data is available. – AndreJ Apr 7 '14 at 15:26
The Sentinel-1 data are meanwhile available at – markusN Mar 22 '15 at 8:38

One place to look for imagery sources is OpenStreetMap's "editor imagery index", which is basically a machine readable list of imagery provider URLs and extents.

The needs of your project aren't exactly the same as OSM's but there is overlap. In this case, in the Nairobi region it shows Bing and Mapbox Satellite. At their maximum zooms, Bing looks like:

enter image description here

and Mapbox Satellite:

enter image description here

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