Getting Started

Hello all,
I figured it would be useful to collate some ‘getting started’ info and tips. I’ll be documenting how to do an entry from start to finish, and as I go I’ll keep posting things here. If anyone else has resources to share that would also be great :slight_smile:

For now, here’s how I download the data into 256px tiles, with consistent zoom, and accompanying masks:

I downloaded some tiles+masks and turned them into a shareable dataset on kaggle, to make getting started modelling easy: You can just download the images+masks and start modelling. mini_train has tiles from two scenes - ‘acc.ca041a’ and ‘mon.401175’, to use for experimentation. mid_train has tiles for all scenes from ‘acc’, ‘mon’, ‘ptn’ and ‘kam’. All images are 256px squares.

I’ll share another dataset with tiles and masks all the tier-1 imagery as soon as I get around to downloading all that data. Don’t wait for it though - my internet is a bottleneck :slight_smile:

Good luck all!



Using the data above to train a UNet learner w/ fastai. Includes a custom metric for the Jaccard index. Notebook here: Google Colab

1 Like

An easier way to access the training data as image tiles: 512px tiles with masks generated from the tier 1 imagery:

1 Like

And a notebook going from start to finish, downloading the tiles, training a model, making submissions. Let me know if it’s useful, or if you have suggested improvements/fixes :slight_smile:
Using the smaller images makes everything quicker, and lets it all fit on a Colab instance - even if you don’t follow the modelling steps, this might be a useful thing to take from this.
This supercedes the other notebooks shared. One thing I still need to do is properly implement the scoring metric to get an better idea of how a model will do when submitting.


Hello and thanks for the heads up.
There’s only one dataset accesible from your kaggle profile and it goes by the name “open cities test small”. Kaggle says that you have 2 datasets available but only the one mentioned appears to be downloadable.
Is it possible that "opencieties-masked-256’ is not shared?

both urls ( & 404-ed on me.

1 Like

Hi @jgilhutton,
The “opencities test small” was supposed to be small versions of the test images, but I think I uploaded the wrong files - please disregard and use their test chips as shown in the notebook most recently shared above (

I hadn’t switched the 256px version to ‘Public’ - this is my first time using Kaggle datasets so still figuring it out - should be accessible now.

The most useful dataset is the 512px masked images based on all the train data. The long URL must have been a temporary one from Kaggle - should now be accessible at Please take a look and see if you can access it?

1 Like

Dataset is now available for download.
Here, in Argentina, downloading a 30Gb file over HTTP is guaranteed to fail. Your dataset makes it all a little easier to handle.
Thank you very much.

1 Like

Thanks @johnowhitaker for sharing your work!

@jgilhutton - also to help improve access to these large datasets, you can check out our experimental STAC browser, which enables you to visually preview each image scene and corresponding building labels and directly download the individual assets you want (via right-click & “save link as” on each asset link).

If you just want all the data that’s available, it’s more straightforward to download the entire tier1 and tier2 archive files or a preprocessed set like John’s but you may find value in being selective about what data to use and experimenting with different methods to preprocess the raw data into training chips, especially with the lower quality but very abundant tier2 training data.

More info about the STAC browser in this thread: Browse challenge data online with STAC Browser

Good luck!


Thanks for sharing ! it is a great help !

How did you choose the zoom level (19) and tile_size (256) ?
My first thought would be to use the tile size of the test set (1024)

1 Like

Tensor size of (batch_size,1024,1024,3) is overkill imo.
Microsoft RefineNet made use of 256x256 images with 1ft/px resolution for the same task as this competition.
You could go higher… like 512x512 higher, but anything above that is picking up detail that may not be that of an inprovement in final results.

1 Like

I upped it to 512px (but think I left the folder names 256) for opencitiestilesmasked. 1024 is a lot of data for training - I figured most would be down-sizing the test tiles or splitting them into multiple sub-tiles anyway.
There is definitely room for experimentation around the zoom level etc. 19 was used in a tutorial I found, and I stuck with it because it made sense for me - visually inspecting the images shows that buildings at that scale look large enough to be easily identified, but are still small enough that several fit in each image (as opposed to a higher zoom that might only show half a building at a time). One thing I don’t like about this approach is that the test tiles are provided at the resolution that they were caputed at - in other words, not a consistent zoom level. So a model needs to be robust to buildings at different scales - it might be better to preserve the differing resolutions of the raining data and slice it up some other way.

1 Like

This is spot on! A key part of the challenge is to develop more robust models working across a range of resolutions, imagery capture conditions, diverse geographies. Your ideas to incorporate training data at native resolutions and of different sizes (256x256 up to 1024x1024) could be promising, and could be achieved using rasterio’s windowed reads:

In general, windowed reads should offer some more flexibility to chip the image rasters to whatever size and shape you like. There’s a small example of a 1024x1024 window read at native resolution at the bottom of the pystac starter colab notebook provided in the STAC Resources competition page.

One other thing to be aware of if you’re creating training chips to standardized webmap tile zoom levels and squares is that there’s almost always some resampling and reprojection (affine transform) happening from the original image as a resut. Not saying if that’s good or bad for your model performance…I don’t know, worth experimenting! For instance, here’s how rio-tiler works under the hood:


Hi @daveluo_gfdrr and @johnowhitaker,

I’ve been having issues installing and importing solaris. From the printouts it seems like it installs, however when importing it i get the error message that no module is found.

I’ve been pip installing on a google CoLab while going through both of your example notebooks. Do you have any insight into why this might be or other resources to check out? I can’t seem to find anything on common resources like stackexchange, etc. Thanks in advance for anything you might have to add!

Hi @butlerbt,

Could you double-check the full printout from !pip install solaris? If you’re installing onto a fresh Colab instance, you may be running into an error like the below while trying to install the gdal>=3.0.2 dependency:

ERROR: Command errored out with exit status 1: python egg_info Check the logs for full command output.

This popped up recently with the most recent version of solaris (0.2.1) requiring gdal 3 which can be temperamental to install.

The following should work (by adding the ubuntugis-unstable packages which includes gdal 3.0.2):

!add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable -y
!apt-get update
!apt-get install python-numpy gdal-bin libgdal-dev python3-rtree

!pip install solaris

Or if you prefer the stable ubuntugis packages, you could install an older version of solaris for now:

!add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntugis/ppa -y
!apt-get update
!apt-get install python-numpy gdal-bin libgdal-dev python3-rtree

!pip install solaris==0.2.0
1 Like

Thanks for the info @daveluo_gfdrr. I noticed errors without libgdal on GCP, but hadn’t realized the version has also changed on Colab and broken the code there as well. Appreciate the clean fixes :slight_smile:

@daveluo_gfdrr your first solution worked like magic! Thank you!!! :pray:

Thanks a lot for sharing this.


I am facing this error when trying to run the code on Google Colab.

TypeError Traceback (most recent call last)
in ()
1 lr = 1e-5 # trying a v conservative LR quickly
----> 2 learn.fit_one_cycle(1, slice(lr))

15 frames
/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/torch/ in array(self, dtype)
484 def array(self, dtype=None):
485 if dtype is None:
–> 486 return self.numpy()
487 else:
488 return self.numpy().astype(dtype, copy=False)

TypeError: can’t convert CUDA tensor to numpy. Use Tensor.cpu() to copy the tensor to host memory first.

Doing return self.cpu().numpy() is not helping as well. Request your help

Are you running it on a GPU runtime? If not, you can change this in Colab by going to Runtime -> Change Runtime Type.

Thanks for your fast reply. I am running it on a GPU run time.

Full trace is as below

TypeError Traceback (most recent call last)
in ()
1 lr = 1e-5 # trying a v conservative LR quickly
----> 2 learn.fit_one_cycle(1, slice(lr))

15 frames
/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in fit_one_cycle(learn, cyc_len, max_lr, moms, div_factor, pct_start, final_div, wd, callbacks, tot_epochs, start_epoch)
21 callbacks.append(OneCycleScheduler(learn, max_lr, moms=moms, div_factor=div_factor, pct_start=pct_start,
22 final_div=final_div, tot_epochs=tot_epochs, start_epoch=start_epoch))
—> 23, max_lr, wd=wd, callbacks=callbacks)
25 def fit_fc(learn:Learner, tot_epochs:int=1,, moms:Tuple[float,float]=(0.95,0.85), start_pct:float=0.72,

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in fit(self, epochs, lr, wd, callbacks)
198 else:,self.opt.wd = lr,wd
199 callbacks = [cb(self) for cb in self.callback_fns + listify(defaults.extra_callback_fns)] + listify(callbacks)
–> 200 fit(epochs, self, metrics=self.metrics, callbacks=self.callbacks+callbacks)
202 def create_opt(self, lr:Floats, wd:Floats=0.)->None:

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in fit(epochs, learn, callbacks, metrics)
104 if not cb_handler.skip_validate and not
105 val_loss = validate(learn.model,, loss_func=learn.loss_func,
–> 106 cb_handler=cb_handler, pbar=pbar)
107 else: val_loss=None
108 if cb_handler.on_epoch_end(val_loss): break

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in validate(model, dl, loss_func, cb_handler, pbar, average, n_batch)
61 if not is_listy(yb): yb = [yb]
62 nums.append(first_el(yb).shape[0])
—> 63 if cb_handler and cb_handler.on_batch_end(val_losses[-1]): break
64 if n_batch and (len(nums)>=n_batch): break
65 nums = np.array(nums, dtype=np.float32)

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in on_batch_end(self, loss)
306 “Handle end of processing one batch with loss.”
307 self.state_dict[‘last_loss’] = loss
–> 308 self(‘batch_end’, call_mets = not self.state_dict[‘train’])
309 if self.state_dict[‘train’]:
310 self.state_dict[‘iteration’] += 1

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in call(self, cb_name, call_mets, **kwargs)
248 “Call through to all of the CallbakHandler functions.”
249 if call_mets:
–> 250 for met in self.metrics: self._call_and_update(met, cb_name, **kwargs)
251 for cb in self.callbacks: self._call_and_update(cb, cb_name, **kwargs)

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in _call_and_update(self, cb, cb_name, **kwargs)
239 def call_and_update(self, cb, cb_name, **kwargs)->None:
240 “Call cb_name on cb and update the inner state.”
–> 241 new = ifnone(getattr(cb, f’on
{cb_name}’)(**self.state_dict, **kwargs), dict())
242 for k,v in new.items():
243 if k not in self.state_dict:

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/fastai/ in on_batch_end(self, last_output, last_target, **kwargs)
342 if not is_listy(last_target): last_target=[last_target]
343 self.count += first_el(last_target).size(0)
–> 344 val = self.func(last_output, *last_target)
345 if
346 val = val.clone()

in jq(y_pred, y_true, thresh)
6 for i in range(len(y_true)):
7 binary_preds = (y_pred[i][0].flatten()>thresh).int()
----> 8 score = sklearn.metrics.jaccard_score(y_true[i].flatten(), binary_preds, average=‘micro’)
9 scores.append(score)
10 return torch.tensor(sum(scores)/len(scores))

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/sklearn/metrics/ in jaccard_score(y_true, y_pred, labels, pos_label, average, sample_weight)
791 “”"
792 labels = _check_set_wise_labels(y_true, y_pred, average, labels,
–> 793 pos_label)
794 samplewise = average == ‘samples’
795 MCM = multilabel_confusion_matrix(y_true, y_pred,

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/sklearn/metrics/ in _check_set_wise_labels(y_true, y_pred, average, labels, pos_label)
1299 str(average_options))
-> 1301 y_type, y_true, y_pred = _check_targets(y_true, y_pred)
1302 present_labels = unique_labels(y_true, y_pred)
1303 if average == ‘binary’:

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/sklearn/metrics/ in _check_targets(y_true, y_pred)
79 “”"
80 check_consistent_length(y_true, y_pred)
—> 81 type_true = type_of_target(y_true)
82 type_pred = type_of_target(y_pred)

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/sklearn/utils/ in type_of_target(y)
245 raise ValueError(“y cannot be class ‘SparseSeries’ or ‘SparseArray’”)
–> 247 if is_multilabel(y):
248 return ‘multilabel-indicator’

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/sklearn/utils/ in is_multilabel(y)
136 “”"
137 if hasattr(y, ‘array’) or isinstance(y, Sequence):
–> 138 y = np.asarray(y)
139 if not (hasattr(y, “shape”) and y.ndim == 2 and y.shape[1] > 1):
140 return False

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/numpy/core/ in asarray(a, dtype, order)
84 “”"
—> 85 return array(a, dtype, copy=False, order=order)

/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/torch/ in array(self, dtype)
484 def array(self, dtype=None):
485 if dtype is None:
–> 486 return self.cpu().numpy()
487 else:
488 return self.cpu().numpy().astype(dtype, copy=False)

TypeError: can’t convert CUDA tensor to numpy. Use Tensor.cpu() to copy the tensor to host memory first.