Geospatial Data & Tools for Analysis

Program Overview

More location-specific data is available today than ever before, but organizations often don't have the means to use it. AidData's GEO program breaks down technological barriers and empowers a broad range of data users to generate analysis and insights with next-generation geospatial data, methods and tools. 

Our spatial data integration and extraction infrastructure is available for free public use through GeoQuery, a powerful platform that enables users without significant computing power or technical expertise to easily find, access and merge together spatial data from a wide variety of sources.

The GEO program also creates innovative measures of development outcomes that can be observed at high levels of frequency and spatial precision; provides the largest and most up-to-date open-source repository of geographic boundaries; and innovates new geostatistical analysis and machine learning-based methods that address the triple challenges of spatial measurement imprecision, spatial spillovers and spatially heterogeneous impacts.

Focus Areas


GeoQuery enables individuals and organizations without significant computing power or data science expertise to freely find and aggregate satellite, economic, health, conflict, and other spatial data from anywhere in the world into a single, simple-to-use file.


GeoBoundaries provides accurate data on the geographic boundaries of administrative areas around the globe. Unlike other boundary datasets, GeoBoundaries is an open product: all boundaries are free and redistributable, and are released with extensive metadata and license information to inform users.


GeoSIMEX is a geospatially-adapted SIMEX (simulation and extrapolation) model available as an R package. It helps research models establish a relationship between measurement error and covariate bias introduced by geospatial uncertainty to estimate the impact an intervention had.


GeoMatch is an R package that helps researchers overcome a major barrier to causal inference:  treatment spillover to (nearby) control units.  An example of this challenge is when a clinic may not only improve health outcomes in the neighborhood where it is located, but also in nearby areas. Failing to adjust for these types of treatment spillovers can result in erroneous estimates of causal impact.

Predictive Analytics

Recent work has demonstrated that machine learning methods—which identify features in satellite imagery that correlate with “ground truth” data—can be used to fill in major gaps in household surveys. AidData uses these methods to generate high-precision, high-frequency measures of development outcomes, and apply them in real world applications (e.g. monitoring and evaluation of aid programs).

Introducing GeoQuery

A revolutionary new tool to spur open access to usable geospatial data


Expert curation

Find quality assured datasets curated by experts

User Interface

Filter and join datasets without using code


Data is exported to a clean CSV with predictable naming conventions


Supporting documentation includes metadata


Access a permanent link of data extraction requests

Watch a short demonstration or go right to GeoQuery.

How GeoQuery works

GeoQuery performs advanced spatial statistics to extract data from open-source datasets on topics on such as:

  • International Aid
  • Population and the Environment
  • Conflict and Health
  • Economic Development
  • Access to Infrastructure

Every data request you make returns an email with a single spreadsheet file (CSV), where each row is a geographic boundary and each column is a requested dataset. This file can be read by nearly all software packages, and we also include a full PDF of metadata. All requests are made accessible at a unique, permanent URL to promote data sharing. See our Quick Start Guide.

Visit our list of GeoQuery-related research publications to explore the technical details. Additional options for advanced users:

  • Boundary Data: Get the geographic and administrative boundary data (GeoBoundaries) used in GeoQuery. Fully open and redistributable, with all meta and license data available for every country in the world.
  • Measurement Datasets: Access the raw raster and vector data used to generate data in GeoQuery, including development project data, open-source satellite data, household survey data, and other information.

Contact for more information on GeoBoundaries and raw raster and vector data.

Featured Publications

Journal Article

Irrigation Strengthens Climate Resilience: Long-term Evidence from Mali using Satellites and Surveys

PNAS Nexus

Ariel BenYishay, Rachel Sayers, Kunwar Singh, Seth Goodman, Madeleine Walker, Souleymane Traore, Mascha Rauschenbach, Martin Noltze


Policy Report

Belt and Road Reboot: Beijing’s Bid to De-Risk Its Global Infrastructure Initiative

Bradley C. Parks, Ammar A. Malik, Brooke Escobar, Sheng Zhang, Rory Fedorochko, Kyra Solomon, Fei Wang, Lydia Vlasto, Katherine Walsh, and Seth Goodman


Policy Report

Harboring Global Ambitions: China's Ports Footprint and Implications for Future Overseas Naval Bases

Alex Wooley, Sheng Zhang, Rory Fedorochko, Sarina Patterson


Impact Evaluation

Does Irrigation Strengthen Climate Resilience? A Geospatial Impact Evaluation of Interventions in Mali

German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval)

Ariel BenYishay, Seth Goodman, Rachel Sayers, Kunwar Singh, Madeleine Walker, Mascha Rauschenbach, Martin Noltze


Journal Article

The epidemic effect: Epidemics, institutions and human capital development

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

Belinda Archibong, Francis Annan, Uche Ekhator-Mobayode


Journal Article

Target at the right level: aid, spillovers, and growth in sub-saharan Africa

Applied Economics

Firat Demir, Yi Duan


Program Team

For technical or research inquires, contact:

Research & Evaluation

Kunwar Singh

Senior Geospatial Scientist

Research & Evaluation

Rachel Sayers

Research Scientist

Research & Evaluation

Seth Goodman

Research Scientist

Alex Wooley

Director of Partnerships and Communications