Adel Daoud, Makkunda Sharma, Fredrik Johansson
Abstract: Using deep learning with satellite images enhances our understanding of human development at a granular spatial and temporal level. Most studies have focused on Africa and on a narrow set of asset-based indicators. This article leverages georeferenced village-level census data from across 40% of the population of India to train deep models that predicts 16 indicators of human wellbeing from Landsat 7 imagery. Based on the principles of transfer learning, the census-based model is used as a feature extractor to train another model that predicts an even larger set of developmental variables—over 90 variables—included in two rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The census-based-feature-extractor model outperforms the current standard in the literature for most of these NFHS variables. Overall, the results show that combining satellite data with Indian Census data unlocks rich information for training deep models that track human development at an unprecedented geographical and temporal resolution.