Learning to Score Economic Development from Satellite Imagery

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Reliable and timely measurements of economic activities are fundamental for understanding economic development and designing government policies. However, many developing countries still lack reliable data. In this paper, we introduce a novel approach for measuring economic development from high-resolution satellite images in the absence of ground truth statistics. Our method consists of three steps. First, we run a clustering algorithm on satellite images that distinguishes artifacts from nature (siCluster). Second, we generate a partial order graph of the identified clusters based on the level of economic development, either by human guidance or by low-resolution statistics (siPog). Third, we use a CNN-based sorter that assigns differentiable scores to each satellite grid based on the relative ranks of clusters (siScore). The novelty of our method is that we break down a computationally hard problem into sub-tasks, which involves a human-in-the-loop solution. With the combination of unsupervised learning and the partial orders of dozens of urban vs. rural clusters, our method can estimate the economic development scores of over 10,000 satellite grids consistently with other baseline development proxies (Spearman correlation of 0.851). This efficient method is interpretable and robust; we demonstrate how to apply our method to both developed (e.g., South Korea) and developing economies (e.g., Vietnam and Malawi).
Publisher
Association for Computing Machinery
Issue Date
2020-08-23
Language
English
Citation

26th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, KDD 2020, pp.2970 - 2979

DOI
10.1145/3394486.3403347
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/277527
Appears in Collection
CS-Conference Papers(학술회의논문)MG-Conference Papers(학술회의논문)
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