This year Irish urban planners will be able to access a new 'Urban Atlas' satellite tool that gives the best-ever imaging of Irish cities and towns.
It will allow them to better assess risks and opportunities - ranging from flooding and impact of climate change, to identifying new infrastructure and public transport needs, the EU commission said.
Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford are the five Irish cities that have been included in the atlas.
This new tool has been produced by the EU Commission and Member States with the support of European space technology and surveys a total of 185 cities. It is intended that all cities in the EU will be covered by the Atlas by 2011. The Atlas is compiled from thousands of satellite photographs and offers a cost-effective digital mapping solution.
Commission Vice-President Guünter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, announced the arrival of the Atlas, saying - "European cities and municipal authorities face significant new challenges for future urban planning in the coming years and this project provides a practical and cost-effective solution for their needs. Through the use of European space technology, we will open up possibilities for mutual learning from a land use perspective and help cities make more informed investment decisions.
"The Urban Atlas demonstrates the benefit of an integrated European approach and is an excellent example of how space based applications contribute to local solutions across Europe."
The Urban Atlas is a key part of the Global Monitoring of Environment and Security (GMES) service. It is financed with the support of €1 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will be fully operational by 2011.