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Over a billion people live in slums, with poor sanitation, education, property rights and working conditions having a direct impact on current residents and future generations. Slum mapping is one of the key problems concerning slums. Policymakers need to delineate slum settlements to make informed decisions about infrastructure development and allocation of aid. A wide variety of machine learning and deep learning methods have been applied to multispectral satellite images to map slums with outstanding performance. Since the physical and visual manifestation of slums significantly varies with geographical region and comprehensive slum maps are rare, it is important to quantify the uncertainty of predictions for reliable and confident application of models to downstream tasks. In this study, we train a U-Net model with Monte Carlo Dropout (MCD) on 13-band Sentinel-2 images, allowing us to calculate pixelwise uncertainty in the predictions. The obtained outcomes show that the proposed model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art model, having both higher AUPRC and lower uncertainty when tested on unseen geographical regions of Mumbai using the regional testing framework introduced in this study. We also use SHapley Additive exPlanations (SHAP) values to investigate how the different features contribute to our model’s predictions which indicate a certain shortwave infrared image band is a powerful feature for determining the locations of slums within images. With our results, we demonstrate the usefulness of including an uncertainty quantification approach in detecting slum area changes over time.

Original publication




Journal article


Remote Sensing

Publication Date