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Facebook launches population density maps for Bangladesh

  • Published at 03:45 pm June 20th, 2019
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The development is a part of the social media giant’s project to create detailed maps of the Asia Pacific

Aiming to help address large-scale social, health and infrastructure challenges in Bangladesh, and to ease the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the Facebook authorities introduced a population density map for the country on Thursday.

The development is a part of the social media giant’s project to create detailed maps of the Asia Pacific, using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, according to a press release.

The AI-powered, high-res maps will help relief agencies and health organizations better assist people in need, the release said, adding that no personally identifiable data has been used for the project. 

The latest map for Bangladesh can be downloaded on Facebook’s page on Humanitarian Data Exchange. Details about Facebook’s work on high resolution population density maps and other projects can be found on https://dataforgood.fb.com. 

Combining publicly and commercially available datasets with Facebook’s AI capabilities, the social media giant created population maps that are three times more detailed than any other source. 

The high resolution population density maps will show an estimate of the number of people living within 30-meter grid tiles, and include the number of children under five, number of women of reproductive age, and other helpful demographics. 

Facebook's population density maps can improve how nonprofits do their work, how researchers learn, and how policies are developed. Building data products from non-personal data sources like satellite imagery and census data allows Facebook to share its data science and compute power with the world while protecting privacy, the press release said.

“Since I first started my humanitarian career in the Peace Corps, up until just a few weeks ago speaking with experts at the World Health Assembly 2019 in Geneva, a common need is accurate population data,” said Alex Pompe, a research manager at Facebook. 

“These maps showcase the power of collaboration between Facebook and top research institutions like Columbia University, to combine public data sources and machine learning to empower more data-driven humanitarian projects around the globe,” he added.