New Light Technologies is passionate about not only providing quality services to our clients, but to also push the industries we work within to new frontiers. NLT is proud to showcase all of the academic publications and contributions to industry journals by our staff.

Remotely Sensed Data for Efficient Data Collection

Authors: Ran Goldblatt, Ghermay Araya, Francis Rathinam, Douglas Glandon

Published in GIM International


When it comes to impact evaluations, remotely sensed data can increase their timeliness, accuracy and relevance for decision-makers. 3ie and New Light Technologies are enhancing the use of geospatial analysis in IEs. Impact evaluations (IEs) have been evolving to fill a critical gap in evidence about the effectiveness of international development programmes and interventions. Because of their ability to determine intervention effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness), the demand for and production of IEs has grown substantially in recent decades. Rigorous evaluation of development interventions and their outcomes has been a perennial challenge across multiple sectors and disciplines. Remotely sensed data allows to improve IEs in multiple ways, increasing their timeliness, accuracy, and relevance for decision-makers. 3ie and New Light Technologies aim to enhance the generation, use and transparency of geospatial analysis in IEs.


Can Medium-Resolution Satellite Imagery Measure Economic Activity at Small Geographies? Evidence from Landsat in Vietnam

Authors: Ran Goldblatt, Kilian Heilmann , and Yonatan Vaizman

Published in The World Bank Economic Review


This study explores the potential and the limits of medium-resolution satellite data as a proxy for economic activity at small geographic units. Using a commune-level dataset from Vietnam, it compares the performance of commonly used nightlight data and higher resolution Landsat imagery, which measures daytime light reflection. The analysis suggests that Landsat outperforms nighttime lights at predicting enterprise counts, employment, and expenditure in simple regression models. A parsimonious combination of the first two moments of the Landsat spectral bands can explain a reasonable share of the variation in economic activity in the cross-section. There is, however, poor prediction power of either satellite measure for changes over time.

Utilizing Remotely Sensed Observations to Estimate the Urban Heat Island Effect at a Local Scale: Case Study of a University Campus

Authors: Ran Goldblatt, Steven Rubinyi (World Bank), Dr. Abdullah Addas (King Abdulaziz University)


The findings of this study highlight the utility of the remotely sensed observation of land surface temperature (LST) to assess the surface urban heat island (SUHI) phenomenon and can be used to inform future planning aimed at securing green and livable urban areas in the face of a changing climate.

Shedding Light on Earth: How Nighttime Lights Have Revolutionized the Way We Understand Our World

Authors: Ran Goldblatt, Steven Rubinyi (World Bank), Hogeun Park (World Bank)

Images of Earth taken at night are revolutionizing our ability to measure and understand nearly every dimension related to human activity on Earth and allow us to get a glimpse into human/Earth interactions in near real time. The recent COVID-19 outbreak exemplifies how nighttime lights can help us understand the impacts of shocks on populations, economies and markets.

The Role of Spatial Data and Technologies towards Building Smart Nations

Authors: Ran Goldblatt, Robert Pitts, Ghermay Araya

Geospatial data and spatially aware technologies are key for a smart nation. Almost every aspect of a nation has a spatial component, from transportation networks, utility lines and critical infrastructure, to cadastral records, land cover and land use, and exposure to risks and hazards. Monitoring and understanding our ever-changing natural and human landscapes require continual collection, storage, processing, integration, synthesis and dissemination of big (geo) data.

Detecting urban markets with satellite imagery: An application to India

Author: Ran Goldblatt 


We propose a methodology for defining urban markets based on builtup landcover classified from daytime satellite imagery. Compared to markets defined using minimum thresholds for nighttime light intensity, daytime imagery identify an order of magnitude more markets, capture more of India’s urban population, are more realistically jagged in shape, and reveal more variation in the spatial distribution of economic activity. We conclude that daytime satellite data are a promising source for the study of urban forms.

Satellite Imagery Offers View of Urban Markets In Real-Time

Author: Ran Goldblatt 


In the paper, “Detecting Urban Markets with Satellite Imagery: An Application to India,” Khandelwal and co-authors Kathryn Baragwanath-Vogel, Ran Goldblatt, and Gordon Hanson use nighttime and daytime satellite imagery to define urban markets based on economic activity. While daytime imagery isn’t typically used in economic studies, the researchers find that using nighttime imagery alone has the drawbacks of marking some cities appear larger than they actually are

Standardizing Remote Sensing Data Collection at FEMA

Author: Ran Goldblatt 


During a disastrous event such as a major hurricane, wildfire, catastrophic flooding or a destructive earthquake, first responders must quickly understand the magnitude and the nature of the event and its impacts upon citizens and communities. Remotely sensed data can be crucial for preliminary awareness about the scope of such a disaster. That is why the USA’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has implemented a tool called the Area of Interest (AOI) Tasker to automatically identify and prioritize areas that require collection of satellite and aerial imagery. It was used for the first time during the 2018 hurricane and wildfire seasons.

Assessing OpenStreetMap Completeness for Management of Natural Disaster by Means of Remote Sensing: A Case Study of Three Small Island States (Haiti, Dominica and St. Lucia)

Authors: Ran GoldblattJenny Mannix, and World Bank Data Scientist Nick Jones

Published in Remote Sensing


Large portions of the world, including countries exposed to natural disasters, remain incompletely mapped. Our study extends the existing literature by demonstrating how remotely sensed measurements could be leveraged to evaluate the completeness of the OSM database, especially in countries with high risk of natural disasters. Identifying areas that lack coverage of OSM features could help prioritize mapping efforts, especially in areas vulnerable to natural hazards and where current data gaps pose an obstacle to timely and evidence-based disaster risk management.

Geospatial data for research on economic development

Authors: Ran GoldblattBrad Bottoms, and Madeline Jones


It is estimated that in 2016 nearly 38 per cent of workers in the world’s least developed countries were living with their families below the poverty line (approximately $1.90 per person per day) (UN, 2017), often without access to schools, healthcare, electricity, safe water and other critical services. Yet, accurate data on the number of poor people and their living conditions are scarcely existent, especially in developing countries.

Big Data, Rising Tides: How Advances in Free Remote Sensing Technology Can Help Cities to Prepare for Climate Change

Author: Ran Goldblatt 

Published in GIM International


In view of the increased vulnerability of cities to climate and disaster risks, accurate and up-to-date geospatial data is fundamental for a more resilient urban planning approach. Publicly available geospatial datasets are increasingly becoming the foundation stone for more informed urban planning decision-making and better investment prioritization. Today, satellite data can help cities to better prepare for natural disasters such as urban flooding and make more informed investment decisions.

Innovations in satellite measurements for development

Authors: Ran Goldblatt, Trevor Monroe, Sarah Elizabeth Antos, and Marco Hernandez

Published in the World Bank’s Data Blog


Combinatorial innovation is driving innovation in satellite-based economic measurements at unprecedented resolution, frequency and scale. Increasing availability of satellite data and rapid advancements in machine learning methods are enabling a better understanding into the fundamental forces shaping economic development.

Security Awareness Training as a Service

Author: Chris Schumacher

Published in


“The root cause of every successful cyber breach or incident is human error. Systems and software only function in the way they are configured and deployed. The glaring fault in every breach scenario is with the end-users decision making behind those systems, whether supporting them or using them … No matter the size of the organization, the common threat from inside is user decision making. As technology advances, so do security breaches; to diminish threats cultivated training, awareness, information sharing, and communication are integral in building a successful defense. “

Getting Ready for Disaster Events with Remote Sensing: Predicting OpenStreetMap Completeness in Risk Areas

Author: Ran Goldblatt, Nicholas Jones, Jenny Mannix
Published in GIM International


“In view of the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters, timely information related to the distribution of vulnerable populations and critical infrastructure is key for effective disaster relief. OpenStreetMap shows great potential to support humanitarian mapping tasks and has provided vital information in many past major disasters. Publicly available remotely sensed measurements can be utilized to identify areas that have not yet been fully mapped and help guide and prioritize future mapping efforts in preparation for future disasters. “

COVID-19 Sparks New Online Geospatial Health Information Visualizations

Author:  Robert Pitts
Published in Geomatics World

In a few short months, the coronavirus pandemic has had significant and devastating impacts and changed the way we live and work. Organizations of all types are quickly adjusting to the new, entirely virtual, environment for communicating information to continue operations for essential public services and develop solutions to advance response strategies. Geospatial professionals are playing an important role in helping governments to curb the outbreak of the virus and to keep our societies running.

Providing Key Insights When Disaster Strikes: OnTheMap for Emergency Management

Co-Authors:  Robert Pitts, Matthew Graham
Published in the Center for Economic Studies and Research Data Centers Research Report (2013)

To better enable planning, response, and recovery activities, emergency managers and others who work on the complex issues associated with these rap-idly changing events need timely access to detailed information about affected populations and workforces. Such information ranges from the number and location of people living and working within affected areas to the demographic characteristics of affected groups and the sectors of the economy impacted.

Geospatial Data Integration Challenges and Considerations

Author:  Robert Pitts
Published in Sensors and Systems

In recent years there has been acceleration in the collection and publishing of digital data about people, places, and phenomena of all kinds. Much of this big data explosion is due to the advancing diffusion of public data offered by government agencies at all levels. This increased availability of data presents great opportunities for answering new questions and improving understanding of the world by integrating previously distinct areas such as weather, transportation, and demographics, to name a few.