Scientific Research and Development

Working with the scientific community to promote innovative science, ground breaking discoveries and preparing the next generation of data scientists for the job market.

With today`s rapidly evolving scientific and technological landscape, researchers face many alternatives for implementation of rigorous and innovative research studies that involve complex scientific data. Finding the appropriate data sets for the analysis, preparing the data and deploying the right methodologies and software technologies for a successful implementation can be challenging.

NLT provides a full range of services to support cutting edge scientific research in data science. NLT assures a successful and smooth implementation of scientific research: from research design to identification of the required datasets (including open-source data), their preparation for analysis and assessment evaluation of optimal technologies that best fit your analysis.

For many years, NLT has been providing large-scale research and development, production, and management support to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies and the Longitudinal Employer- Household Dynamics Program (LEHD). This division delivers the nation’s premier source for detailed statistics about the local workforce and produces national economic data products about the U.S. labor market including the Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI), LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES), Job to Job Flows (J2J), and other restricted-use microdata available to researchers through the Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (RDC). NLT’s team of Economists, Geographers, Statisticians, and Computer Scientists have long been providing integral support and guidance for ongoing research, development and production of these data. This support includes the design of statistical and data-matching methodologies needed to generate statistics for the data. The review and implementation of our methods includes imputation, noise infusion, synthetic data modeling and the development of quality tests for identifying data issues and validating enhancements, among others.


These data products form a crucial part of the federal statistical infrastructure, and currently support a plethora of federal, state, and local decision making as well as numerous research initiatives conducted by leading researchers in computer science (e.g. Ashwin Machanavajjhala of Duke University and Dan Kifer of Penn State University), economics (e.g. Ugochukwu Etudo of University of Connecticut and Zoltan Wolf from the US Census Bureau) and Business Administration (e.g. Hilal Astoy of Temple University, Joseph Pancras of University of Connecticut and Dmitry Zhdanov of Georgia State University). These data and research were recently featured in the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisors and the Economic Report of the President.

NLT`s scientists are also participating in a wide-range of Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing research projects. NLT’s broad information technology expertise and partnerships, including with open-source software providers, enable us to incorporate these technologies and methodologies into innovative scientific research initiatives that enable high-quality geospatial analysis, data management and visualization. For example, a  current research project in collaboration with Gordon Hanson of University of California San Diego, Amit Khandelwal of Columbia University and others evaluates different approaches for defining urban markets based on economic activity detected by satellite imagery. Preliminary results of this research have been published in The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

NLT has been providing research support to the World Bank Group, which is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. NLT`s scientists are integrated within several divisions at the World Bank, supporting and guiding the implementation of geospatial solutions and state-of-the-art technology in the Bank`s routine research and development. Some of the projects include the application of machine learning and remote sensing analysis of satellite imagery to measure land cover and land use changes; development of methodologies and workflows to exploit satellite imagery to detect unregistered parcels and informal structures; geocoding the locations of firms and establishments in the developing world; and using nighttime-light data to measure the effects of new transportation corridors on local and regional economic development.

NLT is also committed to training the next generation of data scientists and preparing them for a comparative job market. For example, NLT has partnered with the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego to offer a unique summer internship opportunity for students who want to gain hands-on experience in conducting research related to remote sensing, big data, climate and economic development. In the summer of 2017, two graduate students utilized state-of-the-art analytical tools to evaluate how hurricanes disrupt short-term local economic activity and the ways in which storm-related damage affects a region’s long-term growth trajectory. NLT has also partnered with General Assembly’s immersive program in data science and visualization to to challenge its students to develop innovative and data-driven solutions for disaster support and relief during major disastrous events. This project has expanded in 2018 to include 10 of General Assembly`s campuses across the US.

NLT offers unique capabilities in geospatial data discovery that are key for successful research applications. For example, NLT is leading the design, development, and operation of a state-of-the-art national geocoding and addressing system for accurately locating U.S. business establishments and the places workers live and work. The system is capable of handling longitudinal changes in addresses and geography to cover 150 million workers, 20 million employers, and their relationship through jobs. NLT is also developing spatio-temporal modeling tools and visualization techniques; automatic and real-time data processing; and data fusion and cloud-based analytical solutions for large-scale datasets. These capabilities have many applications which are currently utilized in multiple research projects.

NLT is an integral part of today`s scientific and academic community. NLT has supported and sponsored a wide range of academic conferences such as Geo4Dev 2018, ForestSAT 2018, American Geophysics Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), TUgis and others.