Employment Seminar Series

Harnessing satellite data to measure employment outcomes

EMPLOYMENT Seminar #41


Measuring and analysing changes economic growth and employment is key to promote the creation of sustainable and inclusive decent work. For countries that lack timely and accurate traditional data sources and indicators, particularly at the local level, innovative data sources, such as satellite imagery can provide insight. Harnessing such information is valuable in highlighting existing levels of economic development and employment, analysing shocks from events and assessing the impacts of interventions targeted at increasing employment.

The use of satellite data, such as night-time lights (NTL), which provides a measure of light emissions at night, can be used as a proxy for economic growth. This can be translated into employment to provide an understanding of how these outcomes have changed over time, with data available globally and at regular intervals. Investments in infrastructure, such as roads, promote the long-term goals of decent work through providing improved access to the labour market and social services for the benefitting population. Capturing these long-term impacts is important for future planning, monitoring and policy setting, but these impacts are arguably the most difficult to assess.

The ILO, as part of the STRENGTHEN2 project, is currently working on utilising Geographic Information Systems (GIS) including the use of satellite data, for the assessment of infrastructure investments, to understand the long-term impacts that interventions are creating. Two assessments of road projects, in Kenya and Rwanda, using NTL to estimate the interventions’ impact on employment have just been finalised. Demonstrating the applicability of these methods and understanding the associated challenges is key to further develop the knowledge base on utilising innovative, big data sources for assessing employment and progress towards SDG8.

Objective of the seminar:

The purpose of the seminar is to present some of the main findings of the application of satellite data to assess employment impacts of two road projects in Kenya and Rwanda, including the associated opportunities, challenges and additional examples of applying innovative data sources to analyse economic and employment outcomes.


Sangheon Lee, Director, ILO Employment Policy, Job Creation and Livelihoods Department (EMPLOYMENT)

Presentation by:

Matthieu Charpe, ILO EMPLOYMENT