Web-based assessment of operator performance and variability in remote sensing image analysis

Funding agency: Belgian Federal Science Policy (BELSPO), within the Research Programme for Earth Observation STEREO II

Research associate: Soetkin Gardin

Promoters: Robert De Wulf, Frieke Vancoillie

Duration: 12/2008 – 03/2011


Project objectives

In spite of a high output of Earth Observation research over the last three decades, no objective tool currently exists (1) to evaluate the effect of operator performance on remote sensing image analysis or (2) to provide feedback regarding the efficiency of operator functioning. This project aims at providing deeper knowledge and intents to fill this gap. Given the primordial importance of human intervention, this is of considerable value to key remote sensing and GIS stakeholders, such as providers of digital map data with dynamic content for navigation purposes, governmental of independent advisers in the field of land survey or application developers. Operator performance, and the nature of errors, will be investigated as a function of problem characteristics. In addition, the human factors that determine accuracy will be explored.  The project's objectives are:

  1. To quantify operator performance in a variety, though limited number, of remote sensing practices using air- and space borne remote sensing imagery;
  2. To characterize operator performance and its determinants, both problem-specific (colour, spatial resolution, noise level ...) and human factors (visual memory span, personality, gender ...);
  3. To identify possible interventions to enhance operator performance and formulate well-founded feedback guidelines regarding the problem definition and the operator efficiency for use in practical settings.


Project partners

  • FORSIT, Research Unit – University of Ghent (UGent, Belgium)
  • Dept. of Personnel management, Work and Organizational psychology - University of Ghent (UGent, Belgium)
  • Dept. of Experimental Psychology - University of Ghent (UGent, Belgium)

Two key publications

Gardin, Soetkin, Van Laere, S., Van Coillie, F., Anseel, F., Duyck, W., De Wulf, R., Verbeke, L. “Variability of Operator Performance in Remote-sensing Image Interpretation: The Importance of Human and External Factors.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING 35.2 (2014): 754–778.

Vancoillie, F., Gardin, S., Anseel, F., Duyck, W., Verbeke, L., De Wulf, R.,  “Remote Sensing Meets Psychology: a Concept for Operator Performance Assessment.” REMOTE SENSING LETTERS 2.3 (2011): 251–257.