Dasymetric Modeling and Uncertainty

Ann Assoc Am Geogr. 2014 Jan 1;104(1):80-95. doi: 10.1080/00045608.2013.843439.


Dasymetric models increase the spatial resolution of population data by incorporating related ancillary data layers. The role of uncertainty in dasymetric modeling has not been fully addressed as of yet. Uncertainty is usually present because most population data are themselves uncertain, and/or the geographic processes that connect population and the ancillary data layers are not precisely known. A new dasymetric methodology - the Penalized Maximum Entropy Dasymetric Model (P-MEDM) - is presented that enables these sources of uncertainty to be represented and modeled. The P-MEDM propagates uncertainty through the model and yields fine-resolution population estimates with associated measures of uncertainty. This methodology contains a number of other benefits of theoretical and practical interest. In dasymetric modeling, researchers often struggle with identifying a relationship between population and ancillary data layers. The PEDM model simplifies this step by unifying how ancillary data are included. The P-MEDM also allows a rich array of data to be included, with disparate spatial resolutions, attribute resolutions, and uncertainties. While the P-MEDM does not necessarily produce more precise estimates than do existing approaches, it does help to unify how data enter the dasymetric model, it increases the types of data that may be used, and it allows geographers to characterize the quality of their dasymetric estimates. We present an application of the P-MEDM that includes household-level survey data combined with higher spatial resolution data such as from census tracts, block groups, and land cover classifications.

Keywords: dasymetric modeling; maximum entropy; small area estimation.