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The availability of fine spatial resolution earth observation (EO) data has been always considered as a plus for human settlement monitoring from space. It calls, however, for new and efficient data processing tools, capable to manage huge data amounts and provide information for urban area monitoring, management, and protection. Issues related to data processing at the global level imply multiple-scale processing and a focused data interpretation approach, starting from human settlement delineation using spatial information and detailing down to material identification and object characterization using multispectral and/or hyperspectral data sets. This paper attempts to provide a consistent framework for information processing in urban remote sensing, stressing the need for a global approach able to exploit the detailed information available from EO data sets.