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LandScan is a useful indicator of ambient population.


LandScan is a global population distribution data having finest resolution available, it represents an ambient population (averaged over 24 hours). Landscan uses spatial data and imagery analysis and a multi-variable dasymetric modeling approach to dis-aggregate census counts within an administrative boundary. LandScan integrates daytime movements and collective travel habits into a single measure to produce a better representation of where people are located during an average day. With improvements added this year, high-resolution imagery sources were used extensively for validation to refine urban areas, land cover data, and thousands of smaller villages and populated places.

Why is Landscan important? Why not to use census data?

Census data is generally collected assuming that a person's home is his/her permanent residing place. Work related data, such as the location of office or business is either not collected or is considered too private to be released publicly. Many undeveloped nations have only rudimentary data at the provincial level. So we can ask a question: so what?

Consider, for example, a hypothetical case of major multi-lane highway passing through an uninhabited desert. If a hazardous release contaminates the surrounding area, many lives would be at risk even though no one lives there. Most official census counts, if available, will show zero population count because they are primarily concerned with where people sleep at night.

Taking another example of agricultural fields, they will show up as zero population count areas in case of a disaster because no one sleeps in a field. The same can said about airports, office buildings and other work and travel related spaces.


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