NightLights and The smiling wildfires

The Night Lights

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Berlin NightLights - Satellite Image

There is this thing about passionate and smart people. They emanate their energy in every conversation related to their field. In other words, you get it when you talk to them. As working in a startup which focuses on geospatial tech, I got to meet some of the smartest people I have ever met in my career.

One of the most exciting things I have got to learn from our startup's co-founder, Rishabh, is about the Night Lights. How we can use the night time satellite imagery of the world to understand certain regions better. How certain areas are progressing over time, how economic growth of a country can be determined based on the night time activities, how wars adversely affect the lives and growth of a country and much more.

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Syria NightLights Before and After - Satellite Images

The above images illustrates it well on how the Syrian civil war spawned a dark age upon the country. Nights lights says a lot of stories, it can show us the steady progress of a village to a city, or how a region is prosperous due to its nighttime activities, how certain parts of the world stays awake and builds itself up throughout time.

Night light analysis has been used quite often to debunk inflated economic growth and GDP by certain governments. This is deemed to be accurate because researchers have found that night-time lights of a country is highly correlated with its growth.The more money people have, the more likely they are to have lights on at night. Businesses will also stay open later, resulting in even more light.

The WildFires

It's not easy to process this data, but it can give a lot of insights. One of the things our co-founder mentioned struck me on a whole different dimension. "Some times there occurs huge anomaly in these data. Don't get mistaken by the wildfires to be positive night-time lights".

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The amazon wildfires - Satellite Images

I took time to fully understand the depth of that sentence. For a moment a lot of faces I have met over time flashed in my mind. All those smiles, happy faces, doesn't always meant they were happy. Sometimes a deadly wildfire can throw an impression of high prosperity and development. But in reality it's the other way around. It's hard to separate this anomaly from the data, except when you fully understand the geography.

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Australian bushFire as seen from space

So, whenever you see your beloved ones carrying a smiling face make sure there's not something burning inside or they aren't fighting a war within.


This article is a part of my startup journal. Tune in for more!

Musthaq Ahamad © 2021