Population density is one of the most important statistics for development efforts across many sectors, and since early 2016 we’ve been collaborating with Facebook on evaluating a new source of high-resolution population data that sheds light on previously unmapped populations.
As mentioned in the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team’s blog post, Facebook Connectivity Lab announced last week the public release of high-resolution population maps for Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, jointly produced with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN).
With the building footprints detected by artificial intelligence (AI) over high-resolution commercial satellite imagery, the data sets provide estimates of population at 30m spatial resolution, making these maps the highest-resolution population maps ever produced. This is only possible through recent breakthroughs in computer vision due to deep learning algorithms and technological development of computer processors, as well as the increasing availability of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery.
Image 1: Naivasha, Kenya.
DigitalGlobe satellite (upper left), gridded population of the world v4 from CIESIN (upper right), WorldPop (bottom left), output from Facebook model (bottom right).