FPO makes use of satellite data

FPO makes use of satellite data

The Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) is using satellites and carbon dioxide density measures to study economic conditions on a more continuous basis, according to senior officials at the Finance Ministry's think tank.

The data will allow the FPO to analyse data for areas to improve efficiency in tracking the most recent economic circumstances, as traditional economic indicators are either laggards or do not provide area analysis data, said Pisit Puapan, director of the FPO's Macroeconomic Policy Bureau.

Norabajra Asava-Vallobh, a senior economist at the FPO, said that even though the agency assesses economic conditions on a monthly basis, there is a one-month lag.

Satellite data and carbon dioxide density will enable the FPO to get the most current economic picture with a mere 2-3 days of delay, he said.

Satellite data can be used in monitoring economic conditions by tracking night-time lights, building areas, points of interest and road length, Mr Norabajra said.

The FPO found that night-time lights on March 31, 2020 were dimmer across the country than at the end of 2019.

The brightness of night-time lights was reduced the most in the country's eastern region, by 86.8%, followed by the central region (-85.1%) and Bangkok and the vicinity (-50.6%).

For the first three months of this year, the FPO's survey showed that the northern region had the highest points of interest at 22,518, with the biggest areas of interest at 19.2 locations per 10,000 people. On the other end of the scale, the central region had the lowest points of interest in Thailand at 1,475, with the least areas of interest at 4.7 locations per 10,000 population.

The survey also found points of interest in March fell from the first two months.

The southern provinces had the highest growth in road length of any region at 2.45% for the first quarter from the end of last year, while the central region had the lowest growth at 0.35%.

Mr Norabajra said the extent of carbon dioxide emissions can be use to track economic activities.

Significant carbon dioxide density was spotted in some areas, including greater Bangkok, Chon Buri, Rayong, Saraburi and Lampang.

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