Population dataset
Population dataset

We build the ultimate publicly available global population dataset by obtaining and processing all admissible data and fixing all known issues.

Latest version of Kontur Population is available at data.humdata.org.

It was initially developed as a fundamental part of Disaster Ninja to help Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team take actions confidently based on data correlated with population density.

Humanitarian OSM Summit 2020: Kontur Population & Disaster.Ninja


‘All maps are population maps’ is no joke if you need to correlate various sorts of social or economic data on your map. It used to be a challenge if you were looking for a publicly available population density dataset. It was even more of a challenge if you needed global data of even quality. Making population data available helps humanitarian organizations such as the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and Canadian Red Cross figure out blank spots on maps or get more info on local OpenStreetMap communities when combined with other datasets. That’s how we came up with building Kontur Population dataset.


The dataset was primarily designed to support visualization behind disaster.ninja project actively used by HOT.

We use Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) overlaid with Facebook population data where available. Known artifacts of both are constrained using OpenStreetMap data as a hint. Microsoft Building Footprint data is used to improve accuracy for the USA, Canada, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Building presence, or otherwise built-up area, implies there’s someone on the ground, which is often missed in Facebook Africa data. Quarries and big roads are marked as unpopulated, as they are often falsely detected as populated in GHSL. Lakes, rivers, glaciers, sands, forests, and other alike land uses are marked as unpopulated. Overly hot pixels (“half a million people in a quarter of square kilometer”) are spread to more realistic surroundings. Totals are not touched in any way; the population is shifted to neighboring cells to satisfy constraints. Non-integer population counts are fixed up by gluing people back together to complete human beings.

How to use

Kontur Population is available under Creative Commons Attribution International (CC BY) license. You can use it for any purpose, even commercially.

Latest version of Kontur Population is available at data.humdata.org.
To use it on your desktop GIS see how to load layers to QGIS from a GeoPackage.

You can also explore and get it from our partners’ data catalogs:

Kontur Population at Unfolded Data Catalog

Kontur Population at CARTO Spatial Data Catalog

If you need some custom processing or higher resolution version of this dataset please contact us.

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