Distribution of errors in a classified map of satellite data

Document Type


Publication details

Pathirana, S 1999, 'Distribution of errors in a classified map of satellite data', Geocarto International, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 70-81.

Peer Reviewed



The output from any spatial data processing method may contain some uncertainty. With the increasing use of satellite data products as a source of data for Geographical Information Systems (GIS), there have been some major concerns about the accuracy of the satellite-based information. Due to the nature of spatial data and remotely sensed data acquisition technology, and conventional classification, any single classified image can contain a number of mis-classified pixels. Conventional accuracy evaluation procedures can report only the number of pixels that are mis-classified based on some sampling observation. This study investigates the spatial distribution and the amount of these pixels associated with each cover type in a product of satellite data. The study uses Thematic Mapper (TM) and SPOT multispectral data sets obtained for a study area selected in North East New South Wales, Australia. The Fuzzy c-Means algorithm is used to identify the classified pixels that contained some uncertainty. The approach is based on evaluating the strength of class membership of pixels. This study is important as it can give an indication of the amount of error resulting from the mis-classification of pixels of specific cover types as well as the spatial distribution of such pixels. The results show that the spatial distribution of erroneously classified pixels are not random and varies depending on the nature of cover types. The proportions of such pixels are higher in spectrally less clearly defined cover types such as grasslands.