Million Neighborhoods Africa provides the first-ever map of population and urban development at the street-block level for all of sub-Saharan Africa.

The map uses a novel approach to estimate population and measure how well connected buildings are to surrounding street networks. Understanding the degree to which buildings have access to streets can reveal information about the well-being of a community, since streets deliver critical public services in the form of piped sewers, water lines, transit systems, waste collection, and emergency services.

Users of the map can answer two important questions:

  1. Which neighborhoods lack access to street networks, and thus, the critical public services that rely on them?

  2. Where do people live across neighborhoods, cities, and countries?

Bringing together geospatial algorithms, large scale datasets, and population censuses, this site simplifies the challenge facing planners hoping to determine which areas in their city lack critical public services and the communities advocating for upgrades within their neighborhood.

The Million Neighborhoods Africa map was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Chicago, including faculty, staff, and students at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and Open Spatial Lab at the Data Science Institute (OSL) in consultation with international partners, particularly Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI). Computational resources were made available through generous support from the Research Computing Center (RCC).

Academic papers

Soman S, Beukes A, Nederhood C, Marchio N, Bettencourt LMA. Worldwide Detection of Informal Settlements via Topological Analysis of Crowdsourced Digital Maps. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 2020; 9(11):685. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi9110685

Brelsford, C., Martin, T., Hand, J., Bettencourt, Luís M. A., Toward Cities without Slums: Topology and the Spatial Evolution of Neighborhoods (August 29, 2018). Science Advances. Vol. 4, no. 8, eaar4644. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar4644

Brelsford, C., Martin, T. Bettencourt, Luís M. A., Optimal Reblocking as a Practical Tool for Neighborhood Development (June 12, 2017) Sage Journals. https://doi.org/10.1177/2399808317712715