The most commonly asked questions answered

Q: What is included in the settlement data?


  • Settlement Polygons. The outline of 5 or more compounds in close proximity to each other. Each polygon is attributed with the province, district and number of compounds found within it. Data is supplied in both ESRI shapefile (.shp) and file geodatabase (.gdb) format.
  • Settlement Point Data. The centre point of each settlement cluster is captured and attributed with the Province, District and the count of compounds covered by the polygon it represents. Data is supplied in both ESRI shapefile (.shp) and file geodatabase (.gdb) format.
  • Compound Density (100m and 1km versions). These are images that visually show the number of compounds found either within every 100m square or 1km square across the whole country. Data is supplied in GeoTiff format (.tiff).


Q: What information is attached (attributed) to the settlement cluster points and boundaries?

A: Both types of data include the Afghan province and district name in which the settlement is found, as well as a count of the number of compounds they represent.


Q: Are settlement names included?

A: No settlement names are included at this stage. Settlement names and published boundaries are very haphazard in Afghanistan, so the advantage of Alcis’ settlement data is that it shows where people ACTUALLY live regardless of where villages are meant to exist or not.


Q: How has the settlement data been captured?

A: The settlement data is based on the actual locations of compounds (buildings) that are visible in recent high resolution satellite and aerial imagery which Alcis has access to. Alcis team of digitising technicians captured the locations of nearly 4.3 million compounds. Following extensive quality assurance processes, the compound data is manipulated and modelled to create a number of derived datasets including centre positions of clusters of compounds and boundaries of clusters of compounds. Please see the Alcis data capture method document for more details.


Q: What is the date of the imagery from which the settlement data has been captured?

A: Alcis used a number of image types and dates to capture the locations of compounds nationwide across Afghanistan. 50% of the data is captured from imagery dating from 2012 or later, and no imagery is used that is older than 2009.


Q: How many users can access the data in my organisation?

A: The type of License granted is governed the exact order purchase, there being single, multiple and enterprise license options, as follows:

  • Single License. Appropriate for use by one organisation or entity on one project.
  • Multiple License. Appropriate when use is required by several organisations or entities on a single project, or one organisation or entity on multiple projects.
  • Enterprise License. Appropriate when use is required by multiple organisations or entities on multiple projects.


Q: My area of interest cuts across province boundaries; do I have to buy data for entire provinces?

A: Yes. Data is not currently available for bespoke areas of interest.


Q: I don’t currently use ESRI software, is the data available in other formats?

A: Yes, we can convert the data to other formats for an additional fee. Please contact Alcis for details.


Q: Do the cluster boundaries represent actual settlement boundaries as shown on other topographic maps?

A: No. The boundaries are based on a computer process of building clusters of compounds that fall within a specific distance of each other. As such, they are a good representation of where people actually currently live as opposed to where existing maps say they might live.


Q: Does the Licence Agreement allow me to merge the settlement data with other datasets to create new data products?

A: Yes. Manipulation and merging of the settlement data with other datasets is permitted. Within the terms of the license agreement, you must reference Alcis correctly as the originator of the settlement data. However, if you intend to sell the derived data, you may need a separate license. It is imperative that you comply with the terms of the license, and as such, if you are in any doubt about whether your derived data is able to be sold, please contact Alcis.


Q: Is the data going to be updated?

A: Alcis intends to put in place a plan for routine maintenance in due course, depending on demand. This could involve periodic updates for instance, depending on customer feedback.


Q: What acknowledgement statement do I need to include on any maps or other outputs that have used the settlement data?

A: Alcis Settlement Data © Alcis Holdings Ltd 2015


Q: Is Alcis settlement data available for other countries?

A: Not at this stage. Alcis is seeking customer feedback on what other countries or locations require a similar level of detailed settlement data. Please contact Alcis should you have interest in settlement data for other areas.