Official and scholarly attention has grown rapidly in recent years as slums have continued to expand across Indian cities. However, considerable gaps in knowledge remain, resulting in:
- Shaky estimates: the number of slums and the population in slums is not clearly known
- Slum boundaries are not typically marked on city maps: sprawl results
- Unhelpful typologies: slums are very different from one another (the pictures on this page illustrate these differences), but different types of slums have not been clearly distinguished
- No longitudinal information: Have conditions improved within any particular slum? Very little is known in this respect
Each of these concerns is being addressed by a research project commenced in 2010 in Bangalore in collaboration with the non-profit agency, Janalakshmi.
Comparing Google Earth images over a ten-year period, supported by extensive verifications on the ground and detailed household surveys, has helped plot the population of slums in Bangalore and to assist with the following objectives.
(a) Identifying low-income settlements and detecting newly arisen slums
(b) Tracking changing slum boundaries
(c) Distinguishing between 4 types of slums
(d) Geo-referencing sample households with the intention of re-interviewing them at regular intervals in the future.