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Volume 611 Issue 7936, 17 November 2022

Plugging the gap

A lack of data on economic outcomes hinders development and evaluation of public policy in many parts of the world. In this week’s issue, Marshall Burke and his colleagues show how satellite imagery can be combined with machine learning to help plug this data gap. The researchers focused on the expansion of the electricity grid in Uganda. Using satellite imagery and local survey data on household wealth, the team trained a neural network to predict the economic outcomes for households throughout the country, including those that had recently been connected to the electricity grid. The results affirmed a positive causal link between electricity access and asset wealth in rural villages.

Cover image: NASA Earth Observatory

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