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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Exploring the automatic generation of census pre-enumeration areas and homogeneous neighbourhoods in terms of socio-economic variables using region merging algorithm Seminar

17 March 2022
Via Teams

Event details

Geography & Environmental Science Seminar

Enumeration Areas (EAs) are the operational geographic units for the collection and dissemination of census data and are often used as a national sampling frame for various types of surveys. In many poor or conflict-affected countries, EA demarcations are incomplete, outdated, or missing. Even for countries that are stable and prosperous, creating and updating EAs is one of the most challenging yet essential tasks in the preparation for a national census. Commonly, EAs are created by manually digitising small geographic units on high-resolution satellite imagery or physically walking the boundaries of units, both of which are highly time, cost, and labour intensive. In addition, creating EAs requires considering population and area size within each unit. This is an optimisation problem that can best be solved by a computer. Here, we produce an automatic generating of pre-defined census EAs based on high-resolution gridded population and settlement datasets, GPS household locations, building footprints and uses publicly available natural, man-made and administrative boundaries. Initial outputs were produced in Burkina Faso, Somalia, Paraguay, Togo, Zimbabwe, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Guinea. The results indicate that the generated EAs are consistent with standard EAs, including having identifiable boundaries for field teams to follow on the ground, and appropriate sizing and population for coverage by an enumerator. In addition, our automated EAs have no gaps, in contrast, to manually drawn urban EAs.

Our work shows the time, labour and cost-saving value of automated EA delineation and points to the potential for broadly available tools suitable for low-income and data-poor settings but applicable to potentially wider contexts.

Speaker Information

Dr Sarchil Qader - Senior Research Fellow within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

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