Better coverage, better outcomes? Mapping mobile network data to official statistics using satellite imagery and radio propagation modelling

02/20/2020 ∙ by Till Koebe, et al. ∙ 0

Mobile sensing data has become a popular data source for geo-spatial analysis, however, mapping it accurately to other sources of information such as statistical data remains a challenge. Popular mapping approaches such as point allocation or voronoi tessellation provide only crude approximations of the mobile network coverage as they do not consider holes, overlaps and within-cell heterogeneity. More elaborate mapping schemes often require additional proprietary data operators are highly reluctant to share. In this paper, I use human settlement information extracted from publicly available satellite imagery in combination with stochastic radio propagation modelling techniques to account for that. I investigate in a simulation study and a real-world application on unemployment estimates in Senegal whether better coverage approximations lead to better outcome predictions. The good news is: it does not have to be complicated.

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