A Novel Method to Constructing Proxy Indicators in Dhaka (2019)

Kristin Johnson, Associate Professor of Political Science (pictured at left), and Ali Akanda, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (right)

Amidst the challenges of data collection in the global South, Dr. Kristin Johnson (Political Science), Dr. Ali Akanda (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and two SSIREP funded graduate students are creating proxy indicators for variance in endowment and vulnerability throughout informal settlements in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These population density and poverty variance indicators will be constructed through an innovative use of visual grid-based coding on high-resolution imagery in combination with open access data from georeferenced household surveys. The data gained from these efforts offers a chance to analyze the population dynamics, efficacy of interventions, and resource access of informal settlements– all data which have previously been scarcely available. In the face of increasing climate change, and therefore increasing numbers of informal settlements, these proxy indicators can be applied to a variety of critical needs, including climate change risk assessments, infrastructure assessments, disease risk assessments, and more.