Researchers harness big data to improve poverty maps, a much-needed tool to aid world’s most vulnerable
For years, policymakers have relied upon surveys and census data to track and respond to extreme poverty.
While effective, assembling this information is costly and time-consuming, and it often lacks detail that aid organizations and governments need in order to best deploy their resources.
That could soon change.
A new mapping technique, described in the Nov. 14 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, shows how researchers are developing computational tools that combine cellphone records with data from satellites and geographic information systems to create timely and incredibly detailed poverty maps.
“Despite much progress in recent decades, there are still more than 1 billion people worldwide lacking food, shelter and other basic human necessities,” says Neeti Pokhriyal, one of the study’s co-lead authors, and a PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo.
The study is titled “Combining Disparate Data Sources for Improved Poverty Prediction and Mapping.”
Some organizations define extreme poverty as a severe lack of food, health care, education and other basic needs. Others relate it to income; for example, the World Bank says people living on less than $1.25 per day (2005 prices) are extremely impoverished.
While declining in most areas of the world, roughly 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty. Most are in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Aid organizations and governmental agencies say that timely and accurate data are vital to ending extreme poverty.
The study focuses on Senegal, a sub-Saharan country with a high poverty rate.
The first data set are 11 billion calls and texts from more than 9 million Senegalese mobile phone users. All information is anonymous and it captures how, when, where and with whom people communicate with.
The second data set comes from satellite imagery, geographic information systems and weather stations. It offers insight into food security, economic activity and accessibility to services and other indicators of poverty. This can be gleaned from the presence of electricity, paved roads, agriculture and other signs of development.
The two datasets are combined using a machine learning-based framework.
Using the framework, the researchers created maps detailing the poverty levels of 552 communities in Senegal. Current poverty maps divide the nation in four regions. The framework also can help predict certain dimensions of poverty such as deprivations in education, standard of living and health.
Unlike surveys or censuses, which can take years and cost millions of dollars, these maps can be generated quickly and cost-efficiently. And they can be updated as often as the data sources are updated. Plus, their diagnostic nature can help assist policymakers in designing better interventions to fight poverty.
Pokhriyal, who began work on the project in 2015 and has travelled to Senegal, says the goal is not to replace census and surveys but to supplement these sources of information in between cycles. The approach could also prove useful in areas of war and conflict, as well as remote regions.
The Latest on: Extreme poverty
- Alternatives to fight child povertyon January 23, 2020 at 7:35 am
Each has a multiplying impact on the whole society, which can be positive depending on the tools provided for them to move forward. It is estimated that 37 percent of children live in extreme poverty ...
- A global endeavour to eradicate povertyon January 23, 2020 at 3:46 am
On September 26 this year, it will be a participant in a global endeavour to eradicate poverty, it announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 in Davos, Switzerland. Dubai will be one of the 10 ...
- Hand in Hand to Eradicate Poverty in all Forms - UN SDG Media…on January 23, 2020 at 2:02 am
The Initiative helps bring Member States and their international development partners together to target investment and innovation for transformative change in countries and rural areas where extreme ...
- Trending Bollywood News Today: Priyanka Chopra Jonas' Wednesday Wisdom is All About Eradicating Poverty, Hails Dr Ngozi at World Economic Forum 2020on January 23, 2020 at 1:48 am
Exuding her boss-lady charms, Bollywood-turned-Hollywood diva and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas‘ fire chat at the World Economic Forum 2020 was all about asserting the importance of ...
- At World Economic Forum, Priyanka Chopra urges world’s billionaires to draw an end to extreme povertyon January 22, 2020 at 11:15 pm
At the luncheon, Chopra-Jonas shared her insights on tackling global issues and appealed to the world leaders to rally against extreme poverty, climate change and inequity. “I am humbled to be an ...
- Priyanka Chopra Jonas talks her work with Global Citizen and its effort to end extreme povertyon January 22, 2020 at 2:23 pm
Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans and Priyanka Chopra Jonas joined Yahoo Finance’s Andy Serwer to break down how Global Citizen will tackle eradicating extreme poverty.
- Priyanka Chopra speaks on poverty, climate crisis, women’s role in society, and more at Davos 2020on January 22, 2020 at 12:03 am
In the event attended by prominent figures like Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and billionaires and business personalities, the UN Goodwill ...
- Fuel poverty hitting more than 600,000 Scots households, official stats showon January 21, 2020 at 10:39 am
While the number in fuel poverty - defined as when a household has to spent more than 10% of their income after housing on energy - had increased from 583,000 households in 2017, there was a drop in ...
- Free SHS will break poverty cycle in Ghana – Adutwumon January 18, 2020 at 11:46 pm
Ghana has reduced poverty levels by half between 1991 and 2014. But it estimated that more than 2.8million Ghanaians representing 8.5% of the population are living in extreme poverty, according to the ...
- Chinese student dies due to extreme poverty, malnutritionon January 15, 2020 at 6:22 pm
"I don't want to experience that -- to wait for death because of poverty," she said. Her brother told Beijing Youth Daily that Wu was just 24 when she died. Doctors said last year that the third-year ...
via Google News and Bing News