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Satellite images reveal gaps in global population data

09 May 2017

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Nigerian health officials won't have to rely on flawed, decade-old census data when they plan deliveries of the measles vaccine next year. Instead, they will have access to what may be the most detailed and up-to-date population map ever produced for a developing country. Created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, and delivered to Nigerian officials on 01 May, the map is based on a detailed analysis of buildings in satellite imagery and more than 2,000 on-the-ground neighbourhood surveys.

It is one of several projects that are leveraging remote-sensing data and modern computer-learning algorithms to chart human settlements around the globe with unprecedented precision. Researchers hope that these data will enable better management of public health, infrastructure and natural resources — and improve planning for emergencies. This is especially true in developing countries, where census estimates are notoriously unreliable and outdated.

Source: nature

Image credit: nature - Satellite imagery illustrating various types of neighbourhood in Kano, Nigeria

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