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Proceedings of the Symposium on Global and Environmental Monitoring

The use of remote sensing for the analysis of human settlements dates back to 1858 when Nadar used a camera
carried aloft in a balloon to study parts of the city of paris. With the launching of the SPOT satellite in 1986
the newest tool was added to an existing array of sophisticated sensors.
This paper traces the use of remote sensing in studies of human settlements from Nadar up to and including
studies using SPOT data. Conventional black and white photographic sensors are treated initially, followed by
advanced photographic techniques, including colour, colour infrared and multiband photographs, non
photographic sensors such as the side looking airborne radar, the Landsat series of satellites, and finally SPOT
itself. The trend of the paper is from less sophisticated sensors at large image scales to more sophisticated at
small scales, giving a selected analysis of many reported applications in the study of human settlements.