Home Maps Twenty years of India Lights: Mapping India’s electrification

Twenty years of India Lights: Mapping India’s electrification


The world’s largest democracy still has the uphill task of providing basic electrification to over 300 million people. A challenge considered so important that WIRED published a cover story titled “Solar or Coal? The Energy India Picks May Decide Earth’s Fate“. India has already showcased its commitment to Solar energy in a big way and hopefully will show the world the way ahead to a sustainable future (Read: India is home to the world’s first first fully Solar-powered airport). But how effective has India’s electrification program been over the years? Let’s map it!

The future of the world depends on India going Solar! Image copyright: WIRED
The future of the world depends on India going Solar! Image copyright: WIRED

Has India’s national program to increase electrification throughout the country been effective? 

The India Lights project, a collaboration between Development SeedThe World Bank, and Dr. Brian Min at the University of Michigan, aims to answer that question by mapping the light output from India’s villages.

Mapping India's electrification: India Lights Project
Mapping India’s electrification: India Lights Project

The project uses data from satellite imagery of the country taken every night for a period of 20 years, starting from 1993 to 2013 to visualise the light emitted by 600,000 villages in the country. Each yellow spot on the map indicates the light output of the village/district and the time-series graphs on the bottom of the browser visualise how the monthly median light output has changed over the years.

The project has detailed information for each of the 600,000 villages they studied and all of this data is available via an Open API. Go Open Data!! So if you are one of those people who think the project needs a bit of cartographic awesomeness, plug away!

Tamil Nadu's light output: India Lights project
Tamil Nadu’s light output: India Lights project

Can you identify the festival of lights from space?

In one word: Yes! It’s really interesting to see how Diwali (the festival of lights) induces a temporary light output high in villages across the country! (India Lights Project – stories).

Enough said, check out the project – It’s really informative. Here’s the link.

I am one of those passionate "Geo-geeks" and "Geo-people" who is just too excited about everything Geo and Management. Location information and spatial technologies are just too big to take a back seat and watch them revolutionize the world. Always curious and looking for ways to innovate, I guess that it comes naturally by the gene pool I inherited from an engineer Mom and a researcher Dad.

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