Census – Remote population counting

Map of population of Nigeria

ORNL scientists used satellite imagery and a national sample survey to design a microcensus for Nigeria that helps find patients in need of vaccination. Credit: Adam Malin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists helped count the population of Nigeria – all without leaving the lab.

Medical teams with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation needed help finding patients while vaccinating for polio in Nigeria, a nation of roughly 190 million people. The last national census, conducted in 2006, did little good a decade later.

Researchers at ORNL and the University of Southampton estimated population counts for every village and neighborhood in Nigeria using satellite imagery and a national sample survey, called a microcensus.

“These estimates helped them figure out where to send people, how many vaccine kits to bring, how many children to expect when they went to a village,” said ORNL’s Eric Weber, who designed the microcensus described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We were able to do this by sampling just a tiny fraction of households.” – Matt Lakin

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