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ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(11), 435;

Spatial Distribution Estimates of the Urban Population Using DSM and DEM Data in China

1,2,3, 1,2,3,*, 1,2,3 and 4,*
Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Natural Disaster of Ministry of Education, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Education, Beijing 100875, China
Faculty of Information Engineering, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 September 2018 / Revised: 16 October 2018 / Accepted: 4 November 2018 / Published: 7 November 2018
PDF [8017 KB, uploaded 8 November 2018]


Spatial distribution and population density are important parameters in studies on urban development, resource allocation, emergency management, and risk analysis. High-resolution height data can be used to estimate the total or spatial pattern of the urban population for small study areas, e.g., the downtown area of a city or a community. However, there has been no case of population estimation for large areas. This paper tries to estimate the urban population of prefectural cities in China using building height data. Building height in urban population settlement (Mdiffs) was first extracted using the digital surface model (DSM), digital elevation model (DEM), and land use data. Then, the relationships between the census-based urban population density (CPD) and the Mdiffs density (MDD) for different regions were regressed. Using these results, the urban population for prefectural cities of China was finally estimated. The results showed that a good linear correlation was found between Mdiffs and the census data in each type of region, as all the adjusted R2 values were above 0.9 and all the models passed the significance test (95% confidence level). The ratio of the estimated population to the census population (PER) was between 0.7 and 1.3 for 76% of the cities in China. This is the first attempt to estimate the urban population using building height data for prefectural cities in China. This method produced reasonable results and can be effectively used for spatial distribution estimates of the urban population in large scale areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital elevation models (DEMs); digital surface models (DSMs); urban population estimation; China digital elevation models (DEMs); digital surface models (DSMs); urban population estimation; China

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Zhang, J.; Xu, W.; Qin, L.; Tian, Y. Spatial Distribution Estimates of the Urban Population Using DSM and DEM Data in China. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7, 435.

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