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High Resolution Settlement Layer

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Update: Population grids have been developed for 140 countries, and more countries are in progress. This Web site offers access to to an older version (version 1) of the data set for 30 countries. The most recent data for all countries to date are accessible via the Humanitarian Data Exchange. Web map visualization is available via the SEDAC POPGRID Viewer (click on upper right menu of any map, and click "+" to add HRSL to the Viewer).


The High Resolution Settlement Layer (HRSL) provides estimates of human population distribution at a resolution of 1 arc-second (approximately 30m) for the year 2015. The population estimates are based on recent census data and high-resolution (0.5m) satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe. The population grids provide detailed delineation of settlements in both urban and rural areas, which is useful for many research areas—from disaster response and humanitarian planning to the development of communications infrastructure. The settlement extent data were developed by the Connectivity Lab at Facebook using computer vision techniques to classify blocks of optical satellite data as settled (containing buildings) or not. CIESIN used proportional allocation to distribute population data from subnational census data to the settlement extents.

Read more about the project here.


Selected views of the data are shown in the figure below. The data can also be explored via an interactive map.

Population counts for (A) Haiti (Les Cayes); (B) Sri Lanka (Colombo, Negombo, and points east); (C) South Africa (Pretoria); (D) Ghana (Greater Accra Region); (E) Malawi (Lilongwe and environs).

Data Download

Click a country for more information

Zip files containing country data are accessible by clicking the map above. The data includes the population surfaces, metadata, and data quality layers. The population data surfaces are stored as GeoTIFF files for use in remote sensing or geographic information system (GIS) software. The archives include: a pop GeoTIFF that represents the number of persons estimated to live in each pixel, a settlement GeoTIFF that is a mask representing pixels within which one or more buildings was detected with a value of 1, and a shapefile depicting source imagery date and cloud cover percentage.  


Recommended Citation:
Facebook Connectivity Lab and Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN - Columbia University. 2016. High Resolution Settlement Layer (HRSL). Source imagery for HRSL © 2016 DigitalGlobe. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.

CIESIN contributions to the development of this work were supported by funding provided by Facebook. Population estimates are based on data from the Gridded Population of the World data collection. Imagery used to identify settlements is from the DigitalGlobe Basemap +Vivid.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This page last modified: Feb 14, 2019