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Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 4988-5019; doi:10.3390/su5124988
Article

Using Nighttime Satellite Imagery as a Proxy Measure of Human Well-Being

1,* , 2
, 3
 and 2,4
1 Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA 2 School of Natural and Built Environments and The Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide 5001, Australia 3 NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, CO 80305, USA 4 Department of Geography, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 September 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 4 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013

Abstract

Improving human well-being is increasingly recognized as essential for movement toward a sustainable and desirable future. Estimates of different aspects of human well-being, such as Gross Domestic Product, or percentage of population with access to electric power, or measuring the distribution of income in society are often fraught with problems. There are few standardized methods of data collection; in addition, the required data is not obtained in a reliable manner and on a repetitive basis in many parts of the world. Consequently, inter-comparability of the data that does exist becomes problematic. Data derived from nighttime satellite imagery has helped develop various globally consistent proxy measures of human well-being at the gridded, sub-national, and national level. We review several ways in which nighttime satellite imagery has been used to measure the human well-being within nations.
Keywords: nighttime lights imagery; LandScan population data; human well-being; Night Light Development Index (NLDI); Gross Domestic Product; informal economy; poverty rates; electrification rates; human ecological footprint nighttime lights imagery; LandScan population data; human well-being; Night Light Development Index (NLDI); Gross Domestic Product; informal economy; poverty rates; electrification rates; human ecological footprint
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ghosh, T.; Anderson, S.J.; Elvidge, C.D.; Sutton, P.C. Using Nighttime Satellite Imagery as a Proxy Measure of Human Well-Being. Sustainability 2013, 5, 4988-5019.

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