Integration of nighttime light remote sensing images and taxi GPS tracking data for population surface enhancement

Bailang Yu, Ting Lian, Yixiu Huang, Shenjun Yao, Xinyue Ye, Zuoqi Chen, Chengshu Yang, Jianping Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The population distribution grid at fine scales better reflects the distribution of residents and plays an important role in investigating urban systems. The recent years have witnessed a growing trend of applying the nighttime light data to the estimation of population at micro levels. However, using the nighttime light data alone to estimate population may cause the overestimation problem due to excessively high light radiance in specific types of areas such as commercial zones and transportation hubs. In dealing with this issue, this study used taxi trajectory data that delineate people’s movements, and explored the utility of integrating the nighttime light and taxi trajectory data in the estimation of population in Shanghai at the spatial resolution of 500 m. First, the initial population distribution grid was generated based on the NPP-VIIRS nighttime light data. Then, a calibration grid was created with taxi trajectory data, whereby the initial population grid was optimized. The accuracy of the resultant population grid was assessed by comparing it with the refined survey data. The result indicates that the final population distribution grid performed better than the initial population grid, which reflects the effectiveness of the proposed calibration process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-706
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Population
  • nighttime light data
  • social sensing data
  • taxi trajectory data


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