The Global Map of Accessibility characterizes the connectedness of the human landscape by illustrating the amount of time it takes to access the nearest densely populated area. Mapping accessibility to cities is a useful proxy for the relative ease by which people in rural areas can access services and resources concentrated in more urban areas. Conversely, this map measures the relative inaccessibility and remoteness of the world’s last wild places.
Greater accessibility is generally associated with positive outcomes for humans, such as higher levels of income, education, and access to healthcare. It is also associated with negative outcomes for natural ecosystems through biodiversity loss and habitat fragmentation.
When the methodology used in the Global Map of Accessibility is applied to specific points of interest (e.g., healthcare facilities or new road segments) the resulting products identify areas most likely to benefit from investments in infrastructure. At the same time, it illustrates potential risks to wilderness areas.
This information can help decision makers balance economic development and environmental conservation.
Originally developed by Andrew Nelson at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) for the World Bank’s World Development Report in 2009, the Global Accessibility Map has been extensively used by the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP) at the University of Oxford and others in the health community. Together with the JRC, MAP has recreated this Global Map of Accessibility using updated datasets and Earth Engine, Google’s global scale remote sensing analysis platform. MAP, JRC, and the Earth Engine team are also collaborating to produce an online system that will allow users to make custom accessibility maps for their own point datasets. The updated Global Accessibility Map and accessibility tool are coming soon.
Learn more and download the original work at the links below.