Social media network, Facebook, has developed a high-resolution destiny map for the African continent.

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Photo credit: NDTV

This online news medium understands that the map was developed by the Boston-based company’s AI team.

To make this happen, the social media network said it deployed commercially available satellite imagery and then zoomed in–a lot.

That means instead of looking at huge tracts of land all at once, it broke the entire areas into billions of 30-by-30-meter sections.

It also trained a program to then scan those for settlement clues. From an overhead view, that might mean the rooftop of a large building or smaller house

According to Facebook, the density map will be of immense benefit to humanitarian efforts as it will help aid workers know where exactly to concentrate their efforts on.

“Accurate population density forms arguably the backbone for any public sector or social service intervention you can think of,” a public policy manager with Facebook’s Data for Good division, Laura McGorman said.

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“The fact that these exist means that organizations working across a range of foreign assistance and poverty alleviation interventions will now have much more accurate maps to do their work.”

Already, the density map has recorded a series of successes in Africa and elsewhere in tackling humanitarian crises.

In Malawi for instance, the Missing Maps Project and Red Cross were able to carry out targeted campaigns against measles and rubella.

This was achieved by the 3, 000 volunteers corps who through street-level layouts, were able to visit 100,000 homes in three days.

In a country like Nigeria where the population census figure has been a controversial issue from time immemorial, Facebook’s density-map may be the beginning of the end for such knotty issue.

The last population census held in Nigeria was in 2006 with the figure showing that Kano is more populated than Lagos, a development which sparked controversy in the country.

According to the census figures, the most populous state in 2006 was Kano with 9.4 million people with Lagos pegged at 9 million.

“A census data set is a set of geographical polygons, you know, so like the outline of some city district and a number of people in there,” a Facebook engineer, James Gill, who worked on the project, said.

“What we do is we find locations of buildings. To a good approximation, people live in buildings, and not in fields and forest and mountains.

“So instead of placing the people in the census district everywhere, we only place them where there are buildings.”

While talking about the map and its methodology, Facebook noted that one census population zone in Africa, for instance, spans 150,000 square miles but contains just 55,000 people.

Facebook has prototyped detailed population maps for 22 different nations as part of means to know how to bring about internet connectivity as help humanitarian efforts.

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