Seeing Is Believing: Why Demographers Need Remote Sensing Data to Understand Urbanization

Deborah L. Balk, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Mark R. Montgomery, Population Council

The most significant demographic trend of the 21st century arguably is urbanization. In this paper, we demonstrate how new satellite data products, and new analysis of existing satellite data, when combined with traditional demographic data can reveal more about cities and urbanization in combination than either data type can in and of itself. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that globally consistent urban extent time-series data can be constructed from satellites, paired with city population data (from the UN Population Division’s City Database) and small areal census units and georeferenced DHS coordinates. By combining information in this spatial way, we will product statistical information that can be used statistically and spatial to much more accurately indicate which cities are growing and how.

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Presented in Session 122: Urbanization in Global Perspective