Practical Approaches to Spatial Estimation of Disaster-Affected Populations

International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research, Vol. 1, Issue 3, 2010

Lisa Jordan; Benjamin Watkins; Patrick Biegon; Margaret Mwangi; Rob Rose

“When a disaster occurs, the response depends critically on an estimate of the affected population. However, retrieval of crucial statistics can be time consuming, often at the expense of the neediest populations. This article reviews spatial population estimation techniques and datasets that facilitate disaster response and management. The authors conclude that the LandScan population distribution estimates best suit the needs of Population Explorer, an Internet GIS that presents a way to quickly deliver answers to queries about local population and demographic composition to users who may not be formally trained in GIS or demography. By referencing LandScan population distributions, Population Explorer retrieves adjusted, official census population counts, for user-defined point buffers, line buffers, or polygons on a global map. Participants from a variety of agencies, i.e., government and non-government, local and international, can collaborate in updating baseline population estimates with local information that can then be queried with the baseline counts.”