The Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) paradigm relies strongly on the segmentation concept, i.e., partitioning of an image into regions or objects that are then further analyzed. Segmentation is a critical step, for which a wide range of methods, parameters and input data are available. To reduce the sensitivity of the GEOBIA process to the segmentation step, here we consider that a set of segmentation maps can be derived from remote sensing data. Inspired by the ensemble paradigm that combines multiple weak classifiers to build a strong one, we propose a novel framework for combining multiple segmentation maps. The combination leads to a fine-grained partition of segments (super-pixels) that is built by intersecting individual input partitions, and each segment is assigned a segmentation confidence score that relates directly to the local consensus between the different segmentation maps. Furthermore, each input segmentation can be assigned some local or global quality score based on expert assessment or automatic analysis. These scores are then taken into account when computing the confidence map that results from the combination of the segmentation processes. This means the process is less affected by incorrect segmentation inputs either at the local scale of a region, or at the global scale of a map. In contrast to related works, the proposed framework is fully generic and does not rely on specific input data to drive the combination process. We assess its relevance through experiments conducted on ISPRS 2D Semantic Labeling. Results show that the confidence map provides valuable information that can be produced when combining segmentations, and fusion at the object level is competitive w.r.t. fusion at the pixel or decision level.
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