TA 2. Innovations and synergies across different data ecosystems

(TA2.20) The Population Monitoring Continuum: Ensuring accurate measurements, from census to sensing


Mofaic Hall October 22, 2018 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm

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Jessica Espey
Robert Chen
Thomas Kemper
Sabrina Juran
Tom Moultrie
Andy Tatem
Abdulla Lootah


The proposed session explores ways we count populations, from traditional censuses to satellite technology, to innovations in real-time sensing, and the use of mobile phone data. Accurate measurements of a population’s size and composition are critical to ensure that policies relating to sustainable development are responsive to the situation on the ground. The census is one of the oldest demographic tools in continuous use, though over the centuries the manner in which it is conducted, what is measured, and how it is analyzed has changed along with technology and culture.

Today, the census remains a vital, if imperfect, tool of demographers and statisticians. It is the backbone for policy and funding decisions and is integral to the majority of countries reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals. However the census is not without inherent biases, shortcomings, and vulnerabilities.

New technologies and data sources, including satellite remote-sensing data, mobile phone and Internet data, and crowd sourcing, present opportunities to improve how populations are counted and characterized with improved accuracy, completeness, and timeliness, especially with respect to those who might otherwise be missed.

This session highlights a continuum of measurement tools and approaches now available, ranging from the scheduled interval census to the real-time population flow count, considering the strengths and learning from the weaknesses of each. The session will feature several new initiatives in human population measurement and settlement mapping and explore their revolutionary, and complementary, potential. The target audience includes both government and NGO experts who need more detailed, consistent, and timely population and related data to support SDG indicator development, targeting of interventions, and LNOB initiatives.