Millions of Satellite Images Used to Map Global Poverty

One of the biggest challenges in fighting poverty is the lack of reliable information. In order to aid the poor, agencies need to map the dimensions of distressed areas and identify the absence or presence of infrastructure and services. But in many of the poorest areas of the world such information is rare. “There are very few data sets telling us what we need to know,” says Marshall Burke, an assistant professor of Earth system science at Stanford University. “We have surveys of a limited number of households in some countries, but that’s about it. And conducting new surveys in hard-to-reach corners of the world, such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa, can be extremely time-consuming and expensive.” A new technique to map poverty offers cause for hope. It’s based on…


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