Project Screenshot

Population Explorer

An application that provides population data for locations worldwide, plus an informational website.

  • The backstory of Population Explorer

    In 2004, there was a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It was one of the worst environmental catastrophes of the twenty-first century so far. When the tsunami struck, Rob Rose decided to estimate the number of people affected. But to do that, he needed demographic data. One of his friends worked for the US Geological Survey and shared maps with him. At the time, Rob was working at the United Nations in Nairobi and could use population data from a global database. Working around the clock for three weeks, Rob and four partners used all this data to estimate how many people were affected by the disaster.

    A couple years later, an official estimate was made of the population affected by the tsunami. What’s interesting is that the estimates provided by Rob and his team three weeks after the fact were almost exactly the same as the estimates that took two years.

    This led Rob to realize there were several problems with demographic data: it was difficult to access, challenging to process, and required expertise to analyze. This was when the idea for Population Explorer was born. 

    Rob Rose requested development services from Steelkiwi to create a web-based app that would provide population data and mapping for locations worldwide. Later, he came back to Steelkiwi to redesign the Population Explorer landing page and turn it into a promotional website that would tell users about what the service offers.

  • Why is it crucial to calculate the number of people affected by disasters?

    Population Explorer was originally created to meet a demand for data by the US government. No existing system could provide demographic data on demand. The founders of Population Explorer and the US government realized that knowing how many people live in an affected area and understanding who they are is crucial for providing effective aid quickly. Therefore, they created an application that could provide immediate estimates of an affected population’s gender and age breakdown to help responders deliver lifesaving support quickly.

    In 2016, the government cut the budget for Population Explorer, so Rob and his team decided to commercialize the project and make it attractive to large businesses. Today, Population Explorer has four target customers:

    • Aid organizations that provide assistance in disaster situations

    • Retail businesses that want to explore their target audiences

    • Healthcare organizations looking for suitable locations to build medical facilities, conduct surveys, and launch research programs

    • Businesses that plan to develop infrastruct

  • Solution

    We created three solutions:

    • web application that delivers population data across different locations 

    • An API so multinational companies directly connect to a Population Explorer server to access population statistics

    • A promotional website that tells prospective customers what Population Explorer offers

User roles


The administrator can manage reports, answer applications for contact us requests, and add and delete all website content and blocks through the admin dashboard.

Registered user

In addition to the actions available for non-registered users, registered users can use the PopEx app to get data on population demographics and population density. They can also create maps, upload map and marker files, save data to Excel files, export maps to KML and KMZ, and print data.

Non-registered user

Non-registered users can view all information on the website, contact Population Explorer representatives, and purchase a subscription.


March 2017 – April 2019
Backend - 2 Frontend - 1 UI/UX - 1 QA - 1 PM - 1
A web-based app to quickly access demographic data

In cooperation with the Population Explorer development team, we created a web-based application called PopEx that helps customers quickly access detailed demographic data and map their target audiences. 

To provide high-quality and reliable demographic information, Population Explorer relies on data from sources such as the National bureaus of Statistics, the United States Census Bureau (Geographic Studies Branch), the United States Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To provide accurate and high-resolution maps, they apply satellite imagery and AI technologies. Once data is received, geospatial information scientists and Population Explorer developers process and visualize it.

Population Explorer offers two plans for the PopEx app: Professional and Enterprise. With the Professional plan, users can access global population, gender, and age data, calculate population density, define administrative boundaries, change views in the map, upload files (such as shapefiles and marker files), export data and maps, convert maps, and export data to PDF files. Professional plan subscribers can choose whether to pay monthly or annually and can pay right on the site. With the Enterprise plan, users can share maps with their teams, get onboarding support and chat support, and benefit from all the features of the Professional plan. Pricing for the Enterprise plan is set on a case by case basis. 

To get a full picture of how the PopEx app works in real life, check out this video prepared by the Population Explorer team. 

An API that embeds demographic data from the PopEx app

The founders of Population Explorer decided to build an API so multinational organizations can directly connect to a Population Explorer server to procure population statistics for multiple locations.

With the PopEx API, users can access global population, age, and gender data. 

A website that sells Population Explorer’s offerings

Once we developed the PopEx app, our client realized they needed a promotional website to show prospective customers what Population Explorer offers. We created a website to tell users about the PopEx app and PopEx API. 

With the Population Explorer website, users can: Sign in and sign up, purchase a plan and contact with Population Explorer representatives.

Minimalist UI/UX design for maximum effect

Since the Population Explorer website conveys a lot of information about the PopEx app and PopEx API, we decided to not overload the user experience and overcrowd the user interface. The UX  is easy to interact with and contains no unnecessary complexities, and the UI design is concise and simple.

Implemented features

Users can change the map view for their convenience. Map layouts include Open Street, Bing Roads, Bing Grayscale, Bing Aerial, Google Roadmap, Google Satellite, and Google Terrain. 

Users can also estimate population density by age and gender. Checkboxes allow users to select one or more options from a set: female, female 0–4, female 5–9, female 10–14, male, male 0–4, male 5–9, total, total 0–4, etc. 

Upload custom maps (shapefiles and KML/KMZ files) and marker files to analyze data on the latest geographical issue or a specific neighborhood. 

The simplest way of doing this is to enter a location of a target group manually. You can also interact directly with the map to specify a target area by adding a marker, a buffer around a point, or a buffer around a line, or by drawing a shape. Additionally, there’s an option to upload a shapefile or marker file created in another app or downloaded from the internet. Or you can choose a boundary from the Population Explorer database of boundary file

Export data to Excel files, export maps as KML and KMZ files, and print the results.

Technology Stack

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REST Framework
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Django CMS
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