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Posted on March 5th, 2019

Our Changing Landscape – Fort Meyers, Florida

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 14 billion square kilometers of data. In February we were in the backyard of Apollo Mapping with a look at one of the Mountain West region’s fastest growing cities, and for this Our Changing Landscape we travel south for some warm winter weather and a look at another rapidly growing American city, Fort Meyers, Florida.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Fort Myers, Florida, USA on November 14, 2009, January 7, 2014, January 19, 2017 and January 6, 2019. In these images we have captured part of central Fort Myers as well as a ring of its more distant suburban areas. And well regardless of central or more distant, you can see consistent growth in the city as tracts of vegetated lands are cleared and homes are built in their place. What you will also see are very bright surfaces dotting the image – these are newly developed plots of land where the soil is bare and thus highly reflective. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2019)

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter (m) medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

The Rapid Growth of Fort Meyers, Florida

Located close to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, Fort Meyers is one of America’s fastest growing cities. Fort Meyers sits along the south-eastern bank of the Caloosahatchee River, just a bridge stretch away from another rapidly growing city, Cape Coral. The town covers about 40 square miles (103.6 square kilometers) of lowlands and estuary waterways with a warm tropical savanna climate that rarely freezes or crosses over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius).

The US Census Bureau estimates a 28.3% growth rate for Fort Meyers from 2010 to 2017 with populations exploding from 62,307 to 79,943 in this time frame. During that same time period the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 32.5% growth rate in employment for the Cape Coral-Fort Meyers region. And according to, median home sales prices in January 2010 were about $107,000, rising to $203,000 by December 2018; that is an 89.7% increase over that time period which pushed homes prices closer to their near pre-Great Recession highs of $270,000 in January 2007. While no one knows exactly why people are flocking to Fort Meyers, this article puts forward two ideas, one are retiring Baby Boomers who have planned this move for many years; and the other is Florida’s lack of state income tax. Living through a snowy and cold winter here in Colorado, we will add a third (untested) idea to this list, warm weather and sunny beaches! Whatever the reasons are for people moving to this coastal town, it is obvious the growth is significant, which gives us great hope for what the 5-meter RapidEye archive might show us over the years.

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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