Impacts of Spatial Apartheid

Although apartheid was legally abolished in South Africa in 1991, its legacy remains today: the World Bank labels South Africa the world's most unequal country. To help researchers understand the current impact of spatial apartheid, we developed a dataset consisting of satellite imagery covering South Africa, accompanied by polygons labeled according to four classes of neighborhoods: wealthy areas, non wealthy areas, non residential neighborhoods and vacant land.

A cartoon of a brown skinned man holding up a magnifying glass to a paper, with a stack of books next to the paper.

Read our NeurIPS Paper

Our paper detailing our methodology to construct the dataset was published at the NeurIPS 2021 Datasets and Benchmarks Track.

Read the paper here
Screenshot of a slide showing 3 columns. First column is titled "The Context" and says "The Spatial Apartheid Act" "The capacity of public institutions was disporportionate to the density of the neighborhood" "Removing the effects of Spatial Apartheid is one of the goals South Africa is grappling with." The middle column shows satellite imagery, where there is an arrow zooming into the township that Raesetje grew up in.

Read the Datasheet

Read the datasheet for a detailed overview of the dataset, what it was created for, how we intend for it to be used, and what its limitations are.

Read the datasheet

Read the MIT Tech Review Article on our Work

Our spatial apartheid work was featured on MIT Tech Review: How satellite images and AI could help fight spatial apartheid in South Africa.

Visualizing the Dataset

We have created a map where you can visualize the dataset below, with options to notify us if you believe that a neighborhood was incorrectly labeled.