Where is Everyone? The Importance of Population Density Data: A Data Artefact Study of the Facebook Population Density Map

41 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021

See all articles by Stefaan Verhulst

Stefaan Verhulst

New York University (NYU) - The GovLab

Aditi Ramesh

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Andrew Young

New York University (NYU)

Andrew J. Zahuranec

New York University (NYU)

Date Written: September 21, 2021

Abstract

In this paper, we explore new and traditional approaches to measuring population density, and ways in which density information has frequently been used by humanitarian, private-sector and government actors to advance a range of private and public goals. We explain how new innovations are leading to fresh ways of collecting data—and fresh forms of data—and how this may open up new avenues for using density information in a variety of contexts. Section III examines one particular example: Facebook’s High-Resolution Population Density Maps (also referred to as HRSL, or high resolution settlement layer). This recent initiative, created in collaboration with a number of external organizations, shows not only the potential of mapping innovations but also the potential benefits of inter-sectoral partnerships and sharing. We examine three particular use cases of HRSL, and we follow with an assessment and some lessons learned. These lessons are applicable to HRSL in particular, but also more broadly. We conclude with some thoughts on avenues for future research.

Keywords: Data, population density, data collaboratives, satellite imagery, data stewardship, data collaboratives

Suggested Citation

Verhulst, Stefaan and Ramesh, Aditi and Young, Andrew and Zahuranec, Andrew, Where is Everyone? The Importance of Population Density Data: A Data Artefact Study of the Facebook Population Density Map (September 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3937599 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3937599

Stefaan Verhulst (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - The GovLab ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Aditi Ramesh

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Andrew Young

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Andrew Zahuranec

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

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