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Human Geography

From global to local scales

World map showing color-coded population density

Global: LandScan

ORNL’s suite of LandScan datasets provide realistic, high-resolution, annually updated population distribution datasets to help consequence assessment, emergency response, and disaster recovery efforts around the globe. LandScan Global models capture an ambient distribution of the population and their sociocultural and economic activity throughout the course of the day and night. LandScan HD provides country-level population distribution tailored to the unique geography and data conditions of individual cities, countries, or regions. LandScan USA depicts the location of people in both space and time, including diurnal variations at 90m resolution.
Map of Knox County color-coded to reflect population density

Neighborhoods: UrbanPOP

ORNL’s UrbanPop model simulates realistic full populations with detailed demographic, cultural, and economic characteristics, as well as residential and workplace information. These demographically and spatially detailed population datasets have been used in several studies, from determining the effect of hurricane Sandy on the most at-risk residential populations within New York to understanding the effects of electricity outages on economically vulnerable populations in the Knoxville (TN) Metro Area.
Screenshot of the Population Density Tables user interface

Buildings: Population Density Tables

Population Density Tables are a global, machine learning and statistically-driven data content management system that captures snapshots of human activity through ambient building occupancy probability estimates of people per 1000 square feet at the facility level for day, night, and episodic events at regional, national, and subnational levels across the planet. The PDT database has been used for emergency preparedness and response, population mapping, and environmental and socioeconomic applications.

Our Stories


Portrait of a woman

Marie Urban, Human Geography Group Leader