Marginal Revolution picked up on a clever idea by some economists to measure economic growth in places where statistics are unreliable by looking at satellite images of light at night. If any donors are listening, this could be a great way of looking at the economy in Southern Sudan, where we have very few statistics.
It also got me thinking, couldn't we also measure population by satellite? The Census results have been heavily disputed here for political reasons. Surely an alternative estimate could be gained by just counting the number of buildings on Google Maps and multiplying by an estimate of average household size? Has anyone tried this anywhere before?