This incredibly detailed map of Africa could help aid and development

africa kids

(Annie Spratt, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Can a map save lives? Facebook thinks so.

Using satellite photos and artificial intelligence (AI), the company has created a high-resolution map of population density in Africa that it says is more detailed than any of its predecessors.

To create the map, publicly available images were broken up into billions of 30-by-30-metre sections, and each was analysed to assess how many people might live there.

Facebook says it eventually wants to map the whole world’s population.
Image: Facebook

There are more than a billion people across Africa and population densities vary by region and country. The overall figure for the continent is 45 people per square kilometre, and more than 40% of the population is based in urban centres.

That means hundreds of millions of people live in rural, sometimes remote, locations. And in countries like Rwanda, where only a quarter of roads are paved or surfaced, remote can also mean inaccessible or even hidden.

The project mapped hundreds of millions of buildings to find where people live.
Image: Facebook

The billions of blocks into which the satellite images are divided each have a unique reference. An AI tool assesses each image for the tell-tale signs of human habitation – buildings. The results are then cross-referenced with census data to determine how many people are likely to be living in those areas.

Accurate population density forms arguably the backbone for any public sector or social service intervention you can think of,” says Laura McGorman, a public policy manager with Facebook’s Data for Good division.

 

For anyone responding to natural disasters, such as the recent cyclones in Mozambique, or epidemics like the Ebola outbreak, delay or confusion around where to direct help or where to find people can have dire consequences.

The Red Cross and the government of Malawi used earlier iterations of Facebook’s maps of Africa as part of a vaccination campaign. Using map data that showed 97% of a particular area was uninhabited, the Red Cross was able to send 3,000 trained volunteers to the areas where they were most needed.

As the maps become more sophisticated they can also be used to help in service development planning. Solar electricity, roads and communication infrastructure, all vital to the ongoing economic development of the region, can be targeted more effectively.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Food safety: Enhancing consumer trust in EU risk assessment and authorisation

This company helps women to become solar entrepreneurs

Continuing incarceration of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, ‘reprehensible’: UN experts

7 simple steps we can all take to reduce food waste

Globalization is changing. Here’s how your business can adapt

The rise and rise of media on your mobile phone – in one chart

The impact of COVID-19 on the life of the elderly

UN spotlights digitization of audiovisual archives to preserve human history on World Day

Central Africans ‘need our help now’: UN’s deputy relief chief

UN human rights report cites ‘multiple root causes’ of deadly Chile protests

3 important lessons from 20 years of working with social entrepreneurs

Employment: Commission proposes €1.6 million from Globalisation Adjustment Fund to help 400 workers made redundant in Carrefour Belgique

Support ‘winds of change’ in DR Congo to consolidate positive developments, urges UN mission chief

What we take for granted: The EU is not perfect

Healthcare workers’ safety: a forgotten necessity

As COP25 goes into the night, Guterres calls for more climate ambition

European Commission registers Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)

G20: Less growth, more austerity for developing countries

Germany resists Macron’s plan for closer and more cohesive Eurozone; Paris and Berlin at odds

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “Chinese economy has great potential, resilience and ample space for policy adjustment”, China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao reassures from Davos

Millions denied citizenship due to ideas of national, ethnic or racial ‘purity’: UN rights expert

Paris, Washington, IMF against Berlin and ECB on money and interest

Myanmar: New UN envoy offers to serve ‘as a bridge’, recognizes ‘positive steps’ over Rakhine state

Guinea-Bissau spotlights threats of organized crime, Sahel terrorism in speech to UN Assembly

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 4 January

Palm Oil: With Malaysia cracking down on production, what’s the alternative?

A Monday to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy; will there be catharsis or more fear?

Data exchanges: Strengthening Europol cooperation with non-EU countries

Migration and rule of law on next ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly agenda

Violence on the rise in Darfur following Sudan military takeover, but UN-AU peacekeeping mission maintains ‘robust posture’

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

President David Sassoli to visit Skopje: “Remain on the European track”

Former Chilean President Bachelet put forward by UN chief as next High Commissioner for Human Rights

How to keep essential value chains moving during the COVID-19 crisis

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

A small group of world leaders are standing together against inequality

EU budget 2019 approved: focus on the young, innovation and migration

Forget 2009, this is the real credit crisis of our time

Energy Union: deals on efficiency targets and governance

UPDATED: Thousands flee fighting around Libyan capital as Guterres condemns escalation, urges ‘immediate halt’ to all military operations

New seat projections for the next European Parliament

The new era of Matriarchy?

4 ways to keep the momentum rolling on mental health

Services are the hidden side of the US-China trade war

Spring 2019 Economic Forecast: Growth continues at a more moderate pace

Visa-free access to the EU for UK nationals and to the UK for EU nationals

Top officials say UN will support Bahamas’ rescue, relief efforts as Hurricane Dorian churns in Atlantic

Budget Committee backs €2.3 million worth of aid to help 550 redundant media workers in Greece

Human rights on film: International festival celebrates mobile phone films for a cause

EU fight against tax-evasion and money laundering blocked by Britain

World Population Day: ‘A matter of human rights’ says UN

Ahead of UN summit, leading scientists warn climate change ‘hitting harder and sooner’ than forecast

The invisible L word: the struggles to achieve SRHR, as HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment for lesbian population

To solve the climate crisis, we need an investment revolution

‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ clean-up project launches trial run: UN Environment

Parliament votes reform for better European Co2 market but critics want it sooner than later

How COVID-19 accelerated the shift towards TradeTech

Why the UK government must do more to boost green revolution

On Brexit: the outcome of UK elections next May to be based on false promises?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s