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Open Access Satellite Data Allows Tracking of Seasonal Population Movements


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Satellite image of nighttime lights in and around Niger, Africa (outlined).

Penn State and the University of Southampton researchers have provided open access to detailed satellite data on brightness for five cities in Niger and Nigeria from 2000 to 2005, as well as detailed methods for analyzing the data to track seasonal population movements.

Credit: Nita Bharti/Penn State

Researchers at Penn State University and the University of Southampton in the U.K. have provided open access to detailed satellite data on brightness for five cities in Niger and Nigeria from 2000 to 2005.

The team also provided detailed methods for analyzing the data to track seasonal population movements.

The data originated from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), a U.S. Department of Defense program run by the Air Force Space Command. DMSP satellites capture thermal infrared images.

The researchers focused on nighttime images, which can be used to measure human-related light to address a variety of research questions. For example, the researchers looked for differences between the images on shorter time-scales to see things like seasonal changes in populations, which are very important for infectious disease research and public health interventions.

Said Penn State researcher Nita Bharti, this method is "unconventional, but it’s out there and is reasonably easy to access and it’s underutilized, maybe because people don’t know quite what to do with it or how to get it."

From Penn State News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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