Facebook has developed and shared with CIESIN "state of the art computer visioning techniques" that can identify buildings from commercially available satellite images. This data once shared with CIESIN is combined with census data, which is also shared with Facebook to confirm results. The final outcome of this data pooling is High Resolution Settlement Layer data that provides information about rural settlement across the globe.
The pooled data between CIESIN, Facebook and the World Bank mainly consists of government collected census data, available from CIESIN, and Facebook's commercially purchased satellite imagery data, with the partnership formally allowing the exchange of this data by both organizations. In November 2016 CIESIN made population data for 5 countries (Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, South Africa and Sri Lanka) publicly available via its website.
The collaboration allows Facebook to obtain better rural settlement information in order to create technologies to improve connectivity in these regions. This feeds into CIESIN and World Bank's motivation to improve communications infrastructure, but the data will also be of use in research, crisis response and humanitarian planning.