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Mapping Missing Population in Rural India: A Deep Learning Approach with Satellite Imagery

Innovations in Methods and Data

Millions of people worldwide are absent from their country’s census. Accurate, current, and granular population metrics are critical to improving government allocation of resources, to measuring disease control, to responding to natural disasters, and to studying any aspect of human life in these communities. Satellite imagery can provide sufficient information to build a population map without the cost and time of a government census. We present two Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) architectures which efficiently and effectively combine satellite imagery inputs from multiple sources to accurately predict the population density of a region. In this paper, we use satellite imagery from rural villages in India and population labels from the 2011 SECC census. Our best model achieves better performance than previous papers as well as LandScan, a community standard for global population distribution.

wp1097.pdf (3.81 MB)
Wenji Hu
Jay Harshadbhai Patel
Zoe-Alanah Robert
Paul Novosad
Samuel Asher
Zhongyi Tang
Marshall Burke
David Lobell
Stefano Ermon
Publication Date
May, 2019