Better night lights data

Night lights is an opportunity to measure prosperity, using an eye in the sky, without requiring institutional capacity in economic measurement on the ground. From 2012 onwards, the VIIRS data is at a monthly frequency for a pixel of 0.5km x 0.5km.

Ayush Patnaik, Anshul Tayal, Susan Thomas and I have new work in this field: But clouds got in my way: Bias and bias correction of VIIRS nighttime lights data in the presence of clouds. In this:

  1. We suggest there is a downward bias in the radiance, that is associated with the presence of clouds. The magnitudes are economically significant, e.g. -28% in July months for Bombay.

  2. We propose a bias correction scheme that partly corrects for this bias.

  3. We have released the source code which implements our improved methods and conventional methods, so they can be used in data construction by applied economists and as a foundation for methodological research in remote sensing.