Peter Amoako-Yirenkyi, AfricaMap – volunteer cartography for Africa

A lot has been said about maps, but old maps no longer relevant. Need maps that reflect people’s real-world needs.

There’s a lack of data and geo-information. UN geographic data in different formats on different platforms. Details that are required to make the map useful are just missing. Maps look good at scale of 2000 ft, but at 200 ft are woefully inadequate.

AfricaMap uses volunteers to do tasks that required no specific scientific training. Annotate satellite imagery and provide geospatial data.

Task-specific because they are working with an agency that is well defined in the way it works, i.e. UNOSAT. UNOSAT provide satellite-based solutions for UN, local gov’t, NGOs etc. have made over 1000 maps/analyses in over 200 emergencies and conflict zones. Support early warning, crisis response, etc.

Objective of AfricaMap is to help UNOSAT solve this problem.

  • Produce maps for humanitarian causes
  • Genearte early warning, crisis response, human rights, sustainable recovery information
  • Capacity for specific requrests, e.g. sudden disasters situations
  • Provide historic data

Volunteers look at sat images, on laptop or mobile, and annotate.

This activity has a direct impact on the volunteers themselves, there is an immediate need for this information.

Designed a learning/training system from the beginning, which helps calibrate the volunteers so that they can be given specific jobs that fit their skills.

Create work units from tiled imagery, define and send jobs to volunteers, receive completed jobs, validate, eliminate work done, score volunteers’ work, place them in levels and teams.

Africa Map is still in active development. Not starting from scratch – building on existing technologies.