November 2023 – Gridded Population Sampling

The November 2023 WAPOR webinar will take place on Thursday, November 16 at 10.00-11.30 AM EST. Our excellent speakers, Dana Thomson (University of Twente, the Netherlands) and Dale Rhoda (Biostat Global Consulting, USA) will deliver a talk on “Gridded Population Sampling“. Attendance is free of charge; WAPOR membership is not required. Chase Harrison (Harvard University, USA), Chair of the WAPOR Education Committee, will moderate the discussion.


Slides: Thomson_WAPOR_webinar Nov23 SLIDES

Gridded Population Sampling

Household surveys are a primary source of information for official statistics (including one-third of SDG indicators), opinion polls, rapid needs assessments, and program evaluations. In many lower- and middle-income countries, traditional surveys suffer from outdated or inaccurate census sample frames, while simultaneously facing complex urbanization defined by highly mobile and/or large informal populations. Survey practitioners increasingly revert to modelled gridded population estimates as sample frames in these settings. In the past, designers and implementers of these surveys assembled their own data and tools and developed bespoke methods largely in isolation. However, we have collated best practices and published a generalized manual with step-by-step tutorials on “Designing and Implemented Gridded Population Surveys” (

This presentation by the manual’s author (Thomson) and editor (Rhoda) summarizes who uses gridded population sampling and for what, when gridded population sampling is and is not appropriate, and the strengths and limitations of available data, tools, and methods. This is a rapidly evolving discipline with new and improved gridded population datasets becoming available, as well as a range of tools that might be used to derive gridded population-based sample frames and select sampling units. Survey practitioners in government, the private sector, academia, and the non-profit sector should find this session informative whether or not they plan to use gridded population sampling. 

Dana Thomson is a pioneer in the field of gridded population household surveys. She also coordinates the IDEAMAPS Network, a global initiative that integrates “slum” mapping traditions to map deprived urban areas routinely and accurately at scale. Herother work includes improving the accuracy of gridded population datasets, measuring “slum” upgrading in ways that incentivize community participation, and co-developing data trainings for “slum”-based researchers and advocates. Dr. Thomson is a consultant and visiting researcher at the University of Twente (Netherlands).

Dale Rhoda is a statistical consultant and expert on design & analysis of household surveys for public health. In recent years, he led the statistical aspects of updating the World Health Organization guidelines on vaccination coverage surveys. He regularly coordinates design and analysis of large country-wide surveys in Africa and Asia.  Dale is currently interested in data entry errors with touchscreen devices, how entry errors propagate through analysis workflows, using gridded population datasets as survey sampling frames, characterizing missed opportunities for vaccination, and designing survey samples with both design- and model-based estimation in mind.