We envision a world where data analytics puts everyone on the map, ensuring that the most vulnerable count.


Launched in March 2018, the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) initiative aims to facilitate the production, collection, use, and dissemination of high-resolution population, infrastructure and other reference data in support of national sectoral development priorities, humanitarian efforts, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our mission is to support the production, collection, storage, and application of geospatial data for informed decision-making in low- and middle-income countries, working hand-in-hand with governments and local stakeholders.


Our approach


High-resolution population data

High-resolution population data are fundamental to understand and manage development processes. GRID3 promotes efficient data investments to put everyone on the map, making use of technical innovations for data production and distribution.
GRID3 pursues two complementary pathways to support countries in the production of high-resolution population data: 1) assisting in developing the highest resolution census possible, and 2) producing model-based population estimates in certain areas through a “hybrid census” approach. The “hybrid census” approach combines microcensus / survey data with satellite imagery to predict population numbers in inaccessible areas. Model-based gridded estimates of population density along with accompanying settlement maps can support planning and budgeting of census cartography and enumeration. The hybrid census is also useful to generate intercensal estimates. Despite its many advantages, a hybrid census cannot replace the richness and level of detail on the individual, family, household, or community level generated by a traditional population and housing census.

Harmonised subnational boundaries

Validated administrative boundaries allow for efficient development processes to be planned and implemented in an evidence-based, place-based manner.



Comprehensive settlement locations

Comprehensive settlement locations provide a real-world picture of communities. This helps target service delivery and development investments to the places where people actually live.


Geospatial mapping of infrastructure

GRID3 activities enable countries to use geospatial technology to comprehensively map key points of interests, such as health facilities, schools, industrial areas, water points, and road networks. Integrating geospatial infrastructure data with population mapping and settlement location data generates critical information to inform development processes.


Capacity strengthening

GRID3 aims to make basic geo-referenced data available and useful for decision makers. We commit to strengthening countries’ capacity to produce and use those data by providing technical assistance as well as training to implement these strategies, and by developing country-specific partnerships that bring government, science, and civil society together.
GRID3 recognises that wider data dissemination is essential to strengthen countries’ geospatial capacity and improve data investments and innovations. We commit to developing digital statistical products for data sharing, open source solutions, and facilitating public access to data.

High-quality research and innovation

GRID3 thrives to improve data investments and innovations as well as generation of use cases. Our teams are composed of research experts who publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.
We have recently published articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), BMJ Global Health and Nature Communications:

N. A. Wardrop, et al. Spatially disaggregated population estimates in the absence of national population and housing census data, PNAS, 2018
S. Juran,  et al. Geospatial mapping of access to timely essential surgery in sub-Saharan Africa, BMJ Global Health, 2018.
V. Alegana, et al. National and sub-national variation in patterns of febrile case management in sub-Saharan Africa, Nature Communications, 2018.


Latest News


GRID3 Nigeria: Using geospatial infrastructure & population data in support of decision making and effective application of resources

In 2012, Nigeria accounted for over half of all polio cases in the world, even though cases had fallen by over 99% globally in the previous 30 years. The GRIDNigeria project grew out of the idea to carry out GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping of settlements in the 11 polio endemic States in northern Nigeria to locate every child and vaccinate them against polio. In 2013, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency through the Nigeria Polio Eradication Initiative developed a new population estimate model, using high-resolution satellite imagery and micro-census information.

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Hybrid census to generate spatially-disaggregated population estimates in Afghanistan

The last national population census in Afghanistan was conducted in 1979, and this census covered only 67% of the districts in the country due to security issues. Recent plans to conduct a full population census have also been hampered by ongoing insecurity and it is unlikely a population census will be conducted in the near future. Given the urgent need for reliable and accurate national population data, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan requested assistance from the UN to generate population counts that would feed into the planning and programming system of the government.

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Where we work

GRID3 is underway in four African countries:


About us

GRID3 is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). It is implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), WorldPop at the University of Southampton and Flowminder, and coordinated by Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN).