LATEST ARTICLES

Geoawesomeness Digital Meetup Schedule for 2021

Geoawesomeness Digital meetup is all about bringing the spatial community together and enabling interactions within the community whether it’s for fun and/or profit. And along the way, we hope that the meetup will help us all better understand how location data and technology are transforming the world for the better.

We are quite excited about our digital meetup series and it’s great to see that you are excited about it as well! We promise it’s going to be #geoawesome! In the meantime, if you have ideas/suggestions for us to make this a regular feature on your calendar, do let us know!

Interested in working with us?

Interested in hosting an event together with the team? Let’s talk! Send an email to info@geoawesomeness.com

Upcoming Events

 

Digital Meetup #20 7th December 2021 – Geospatial for Good (proudly supported by Geoawesomeness and our community)

Missed a presentation?

Watch all the presentations on Geoawesomeness YouTube Channel.

Past Events

Digital Meetup #9 on 18th February 2021 – Location, Location, Location: Using travel time and transport data for making business decisions (supported by TravelTime)

Digital Meetup #10 on 24th March 2021 – Location Intelligence and the Counter-drone use case (supported by Carmenta)

Digital Meetup #11 on 8th April 2021 – 5D Location Intelligence and Situational Awareness (supported by Luciad Hexagon Geospatial)

Digital Meetup #12 on 28th April 2021 – Unlocking Geospatial Technology for Game Engines (Supported by Cesium)

Digital Meetup #13 on 6th May 2021 – Common Operating Picture for Real-time Geospatial threats (supported by DataCapable)

Digital Meetup #14 on 23rd June 2021 – Maps, IoT, and Smart Cities (supported by GreyMatter)

Digital Meetup #15 on 28th July 2021 – Reality Capture, Drones and Analytics (supported by DroneDeploy)

Digital Meetup #16 5th August 2021 – Advanced Construction and Engineering (Supported by Cesium)

Digital Meetup #17 23rd September 2021 – Property Data-as-a-Service (supported by LoveLand Technologies)

Digital Meetup #18 6th October 2021 – The Future of Mobility (supported by GreyMatter)

Digital Meetup #19 4th November 2021 – Four stories about sustainable transportation and logistics (Supported by TomTom)

Digital Meetup #1 to #8 were held in 2020 – information and details available here https://geoawesomeness.com/2020-geoawesomeness-digital-meetup-schedule/

Calling Geo-Researchers: Help Us by Blogging Your Work!

We want to bridge the disconnect between Geo-research and Geotech.

Geographic information systems (GIS) was once a mere concept of quantitative and computational geography. Thanks to Michael Goodchild, research on key topics such as spatial analysis and visualization were formalized.

While serving as an assistant professor, Roger Tomlinson worked as the manager of the computer mapping division at Spartan Air services. His pioneering work to plan and developer the Roger Tomlinson’s pioneering work to initiate, plan, and develop the Canada Geographic Information System resulted in the first computerized GIS in the world in 1963. Both of these legends were working in the university when they changed the future by creating what we today call GIS.

Fast forward to today, What are scientists and researchers doing with location data? What are the biggest research projects in the universities concerning geospatial data and analysis? Once finished with our studies or academic careers, it is easy to be distanced away from the research world. At Geoawesomeness, we would like to do our part to bridge the disconnect between Geo-research and Geotech and help usher in further innovation and collaboration in the industry.

So far…

At Geoawesomeness, we’ve previously helped researchers with their work by sharing information about their research surveys and by blogging about the state of GIScience. Knowing that there are so many research institutions working in the domain of GIScience and that many other topics are becoming inherently location-based, we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to showing our audience what’s going on at the forefront of science! No one knows about the latest happenings in the research world better than you researchers working in the field!

Hence, we have decided that we are actively going to invite more people to write about their work and research with the rest of our community. We’re very curious about what problems you’re trying to solve, what approaches you’re taking, and what you’ve learned so far. Writing about your research will help you reach a wide and enthusiastic audience, with Geoawesomeness reaching over 170 000 page visits each month! It will also help accelerate the adoption of geotech across the world, positively helping impact our communities. We hope that our Georesearch initiative can also expose you to other areas of research and get connected to other researchers and geogeeks.

We are passionate about exploring the intersection of science, technology, and location and usually write about all topics where we see such a connection. While the definition of a geo-topic is open by nature, just to give you a better example,

We’re interested in

  • AR/VR,
  • autonomous driving, computer vision, navigation,
  • big data (geospatial),
  • blockchain, decentralization
  • citizen science
  • drones, remote sensing, photogrammetry
  • location intelligence, location data analytics,
  • machine learning, AI
  • mobility as a service, smart cities, and many more!

If you are working as a researcher either at the university or at a research lab, this is your chance to share your work outside the academic world. Who knows? Perhaps your work is going to change the industry just like how Michael Goodchild and Roger Tomlinson did in the past century. Send me an email or say hello to us via Twitter 🙂

What are the key barriers and challenges in achieving sustainability in Transportation and Logistics?

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Transportation and logistics account for over a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions around the world and plays an essential role in the current climate crisis. Still, for many industry players, it is still hardly uncharted territory. Sustainable transportation and logistics aim to lower the ecological footprint of its tasks, such as CO2 emissions, noise pollution, and accidents. To achieve it suppliers must look for a balance between financial growth, environment care, and the health of society.

Many companies in the sector have set sustainability objectives but typically fall far short of their potential. At the same time, the environmental regulations are becoming more and more strict and transportation and logistics companies must make their tasks increasingly more sustainable to meet these regulations, net-zero commitments and improve their social responsibility to consumers.

During the recent Geoawesomeness Digital Meetup on sustainable transportation and logistics, we have invited four speakers representing different industry players to discuss the key barriers, challenges and solutions relevant for achieving the ESG objectives.

Our first speaker was Andrea Schön, Head of Business Sustainability and Customer Consulting from DB Schenker. Andrea shared some insights on ESG corporate strategy and roadmap to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. She discussed challenges related to the introduction of various eco-products and services as well as barriers related to carbon reporting, carbon accounting and green fuels.

The second speaker was Maciej Starzyk, Vice-director from PwC focused on Transportation and Logistics. Maciej discussed top forces transforming transportation and logistics in the post-lock-down reality. He discussed ESG aspects and the role of technology and digital transformation in achieving the sustainability objectives.

Out 3rd speaker was Anna Nijhuis, Product Marketing Manager from TomTom who talked about the location technology aspect in the sustainability-driven supply chains. She discussed in detail the most relevant industry trends and technology solutions. She analyzed methods of mitigating some of the major urban logistics challenges including digitalization, drivers’ shortage, congestion, emissions and infrastructure changes.

Our last but not least speaker was Roy Matalon, Head of Business Development
@Fernride. He analyzed teleoperations solutions and their impact on sustainability in Transportation and Logistics

Geo Climate Risk Solutions (GCRS) Startup – Women In Geospatial+ Writing Competition

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With an aim to make earth a better and safer place to live in, Geo Climate Risk Solutions (GCRS), India was founded in the year 2014 and offers its solution in areas like geo spatial services, environment and spatial planning, disaster and climate risk reduction amongst many others. Their mission is to engage in principle of Risk Reduction and Resilience Building with a core agenda of building solutions for environmental, Industrial, Agricultural, Water and socio-economic sustainability to the development challenges.

GCRS is a solution provider, consultancy and advisory services organization primarily focusing on challenges related to environment and sustainability and offering solutions to governments, institutions, corporates, industries and multi-lateral, bilateral funding partners and donor agencies, and non-governmental organizations. They derive its strength from a pool of highly experienced human resources with in depth knowledge on issues related to environmental risks and geo hazards, management of natural resources, sustainability safeguards, policy frame work and capacity building. Core strength of them is also in spatial data analysis, interpretation, reporting and monitoring and evaluations. Their designs and operates for itself and the clientele geospatial technologies based user-friendly tools and solutions for easy access, retrieval, trend-analysis, updating, understanding and prediction of a wide range of natural and environmental issues risks and natural hazards and it extensively uses geo-spatial tools and satellite imageries for data interpretation and analysis. The company focuses on innovations and spatial platforms to address the issues in climate change, disaster risk reduction, integrated water resource management and other developments. It does so by conglomerating geographic information systems and information technology to provide innovation and cutting-edge solutions.

As mentioned above, they provide various solutions through various means- by industry, technologies/Functional and through various sectors.

Solutions through

  • Industry includes Governments- Public Sector Units, Oil & Gas, Corporates, Industries and Mining, Multilateral/Donor agencies and Non-government Organisations.
  • Technologies/Functional- Geospatial Technologies and Information Technologies, Catastrophe Modelling, Hazard Risk Analysis, Resilient building, Sustainability Analysis and Reporting and Satellite image processing and interpretation.
  • Sectors – Environment, Natural Resources, Water Sector, Biodiversity, Land and Soils and Climate Change and DRR.

SERVICES– This company provides various benefits for country which includes Master plans for governments, institutions and large industries to assess their share of the resources, recent trends in depletion and contamination and suggesting short-term and long-term interventions, control and conservation measures including governance, regulatory compliance, capex and opex for management and institutional capacity building and many information regarding Water, Land, Soil, Agriculture, Bio diversity, Advisory services on above for industries, infrastructure and large development projects, Environmental Risks Emissions, discharges & contamination, Geo Hazards, Societal risks, Bio diversity losses, Due diligence for new and contaminated sites Regulatory exposures, including changes in environmental laws requiring responses to pollution, Supply chain risk, Operational exposures that result in the discovery of existing pollution conditions or new conditions related to spills and releases, Legacy exposures resulting from divestitures, acquisitions, plant closings, non-owned disposal sites, or company restructuring, Clean-up projects that can absorb significant financial resources and often result in expensive cost overruns, Helping the MEME sector in meeting environmental safeguards Pollution Control Capacity Building & Monitoring Policy framework Recycling and reuse Training Awareness Support services to Corporate and Institutions Sustainability Reporting Sustainability Performance Evaluation Action Plans to meet SDGs.

Geospatial Expert Panel – Ng Siau Yong – 2022 Top 100 Geospatial Companies

Geoawesomeness team is delighted to announce Ng Siau Yong, Director of GeoSpatial and Data Division & Chief Data Officer at the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) joins us as an expert on the panel for the 2022 Top 100 Geospatial Companies.

Ng Siau Yong is the Director of GeoSpatial and Data Division & Chief Data Officer at the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). He is responsible for driving and establishing a collaborative geospatial environment in Singapore. He oversees the formulation, design and management of the policy and programme for geospatial information governance, infrastructure and technology development, capacity building, and the use of geospatial systems in data analytics.

Under his stewardship, various important geospatial initiatives have been implemented. Among them, OneMap (www.onemap.sg), the Singapore Government’s geospatial information and services portal, has won many international accolades. GeoWorks, an industry centre has been set up to promote geospatial business growth, drive geo-innovation, and foster a well-connected geospatial community. Siau Yong initiated the setting up of the Singapore GeoSpatial Scholarship to strengthen the building of geospatial workforce. He has been actively involved in the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM) and chaired the National Institutional Arrangement Work Group until recently.

Trained as an urban planner, Siau Yong started his career with the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority. He later served the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Law in various capacities. Upon joining SLA, he first assumed the position of Director, Strategic Planning and Policy and later Director, Land Asset Management Services, prior to taking on the current portfolio.

Apart from his professional work, Siau Yong had been actively involved in tertiary education for more than 17 years. He taught Urban Development, Urban Planning and Urban Policy in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as Adjunct Associate Professor with the Department of Real Estate of the School of Design & Environment, National University of Singapore (NUS).


Since 2016, Geoawesomeness has been publishing this annual list to enable the community to identify companies across the world working on geospatial topics and to foster collaboration.
In case you’d like to nominate your company, please do so via this form.

Women in Geospatial+ writing webinar and competition 2021

A couple of months back, Rohini Swaminathan, a fellow member of the Women in Geospatial+ steering committee, introduced me to Anusuya Datta. We were talking about the WiG+ internal Newsletter and how to get more women into professional writing and an idea to organise a webinar and a writing competition was born. The goal was simple; we wanted to give women+ the tools and a starting point to begin writing articles, which could help them establish a professional presence in the geospatial community. I have never organised an event like this before, but I was excited to enable our members (and other women+ in the geospatial industry) to find their own voice and encourage them to take up writing, be it in form of blogging, articles or technical writing.

Webinar

On September 8th 2021, Women in Geospatial+ held a webinar on Geospatial Writing. This was part of our ongoing webinar series on career development. We had three writers on the panel – Jasmine Fleming, Rhian French and Gavin Schrock. We talked about various topics revolving around writing in general, as well as writing for the geospatial industry specifically. Here’s the webinar recording if you’re interested!

Competition

During the webinar, we also announced the start of the Women in Geospatial+ writing competition, which we have organised together with GoGeomatics and Geoawesomeness. Participants could choose one of two topics to write an article about: “Geospatial for good” or a case study.

Women in Geospatial+ competition winner: Helen Mazalon

The winner was chosen at the end of October by the judges – five professional writers – Anusuya Datta, Jasmine Fleming, Rhian French, Gaving Schrock of GoGeomatics and Muthukumar Kumar of Geoawesomeness. In the end, since all the entries were of such high standard, we have decided to publish all of the contest entries and not just the winning one. The aim is to give the new writers a space to shine and the opportunity to get their work to the wider audience.

These are the articles that were submitted as part of the competition:

The Winner

The winning piece of the Women in Geospatial+ writing competition has been written by Helen Mazalon.  Here’s what one of the judges, Rhian French, said about the winning entry:

First person narrative worked well – I liked that she expressed her own views, particularly in the last paragraph, and wrote in a personable, easy-to-understand style. First hand experiences were described well and helped reader visualise the situations. Helen took a current international news topic and related it to wider global issues on sustainability. References were well-used and placed. I felt the article was the beginning of something you might read in National Geographic!

Women in Geospatial+

This was my first time organising an event like this and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I got to meet interesting people from the geospatial industry and we got to talk about a really interesting topic. At the same time, we have also provided the others with useful pointers to kick off their writing careers. It would have been hard to come by an opportunity like this had I not been a member of the Women in Geospatial+ network.

If you’re interested in learning more about Women in Geospatial+, have a look at our website www.womeningeospatial.org. Don’t forget to sign up if you’d like to be part of our community too!

We’re building the future of the geospatial community and we need your talent

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Geoawesomeness celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year and we believe it’s time to (re)envision the future of the Geospatial community! We are thrilled you’re considering working/volunteering with us. You’ll be joining a friendly, fun, innovative, and inspiring global community.

Over the past decade over 150 authors with diverse educational, cultural and linguistic backgrounds have volunteered their time and shaped the blog to what it is today – an open and global platform that connects the geospatial community and aims to tell the story of geospatial data and tools are transforming the world. This shared passion for all things location is what unites this diverse group of people.

Contract work 

  • Web developer and Digital designer: Help redesign the website and our logo. A creative brief with estimated budget is available for review. If you are interested, please reach out to us via email (info@geoawesomeness.com) by 25th November.

Join the team 

Not a web developer? Here are other ways in which you can contribute to our global community.

  • Blogging and content writer
  • Local meetup organiser (1st chapter already up and running in Munich, Germany)
  • Video content creator and editor
  • Community forum moderator
  • Advisory and Steering Committee
  • Geospatial for good Outreach Coordinator

What does Geoawesomeness offer?

  • A global platform to showcase your personal expertise and passion for geospatial.
  • Opportunity to network and connect with members of the geospatial community.
  • Take Geospatial to the world – help tell the story of how geospatial data and tools are transforming the world for the better.
  • A partnership for change – Do some real good by support organisations such as MapAction and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap.
  • A Diverse, inclusive and open platform: geospatial cannot transform the world without all members of our community being a part of it.

If you are interested in joining the team or need more information, please do send us an email at info@geoawesomeness.com.

P.S: If you are a student looking to do a paid internship, please do mention that in the email. 

GIS helping with significant emissions reductions at the Oil and Gas Authority

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Sounds counterintuitive right? How can the Oil and Gas Authority make any significant impact toward Net Zero 2050?

The UK is currently reliant on oil and gas for the majority of our heating and electricity needs and will retain some of that reliance for years to come while we transition to greener technologies. The OGA is working in a tripartite partnership with industry and government to improve production efficiency and reduce flaring and venting. Flaring volumes have decreased by 22% in 2020[1] from the previous year. Production efficiency is at a 16-year high of 80%[2]. A lot of the skills needed to explore and implement new technologies such as hydrogen and CCUS require not only the same skills that have enabled petroleum extraction, but also a lot of the same data.

The OGA became a government company in October 2016, its role is to work with industry and government on the economic recovery of UK oil and gas and support the UK government in its drive to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It does this by a combination of influencing and regulating.

The GIS team at the OGA work on two fronts: they provide vast and varied amounts of data to the wider world through their Open Data site and they help internal users make better decisions, often around emissions reduction or CCUS siting.

A montage of different applications and maps from the OGA Open Data site
The OGA make GIS data available through the OGA Open Data site

Recently the OGA worked with The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to build an application that collated an up-to-date picture of all energy leases on the UK Continental Shelf. Though simple in technical terms, this app had a major impact, bringing together data in a way that was previously out of reach to many of its users. This app allows for the planning of, for example, reuse of infrastructure for green technologies and the electrification of oil and gas platforms (which reduces their emissions) by sourcing energy from windfarms.

Screen grab from lease agreement application
The OGA have collaborated with The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to produce the lease agreement application

The OGA also make available detailed historical daily production data for oil and gas reservoirs that have ceased production, providing experts with information needed to assess the suitability of a reservoir for carbon storage.

Two screen grabs showing daily production data
Daily well production data can assist in the identification of potential carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites

Most importantly, the OGA GIS team work to collaborate with other organisations, finding efficient ways to share information, such as through APIs to provide the joined-up picture required for decision makers to find opportunities that drive efficiencies and revolutionise the energy supply for the UK.

[1] https://www.ogauthority.co.uk/news-publications/news/2021/oga-interventions-avoid-970-000-tonnes-of-lifetime-co2e-emissions/

[2] https://www.ogauthority.co.uk/media/7141/ukcs-a5-overview-final_web.pdf

Using geospatial analysis to identify where people are and understand who is being ‘left behind’

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As a GIS Technician focussing on fragile and complex environments such as war-torn regions, I am constantly reminded how Geospatial tools and data play an integral part in achieving a more globally sustainable future. In particular, the UN Sustainable Development Group 2030 Agenda commitment to “Leave No One Behind” is usually in the back of my mind when thinking about geospatial for good.

The “Leave No One Behind” promise includes the steps: “identifying who is being left behind and why; identifying effective measures to address root causes; monitoring and measuring progress” (United Nations). This is a great concept, and if achieved will transform the lives of vulnerable individuals. But how is this going to be achieved when you don’t really know where the people are?

My work focuses on some of the most challenging environments, and despite the most conclusive data coming from intergovernmental organisations, there are invariably issues with accuracy, which in hindsight, raises doubts as to whether the data acknowledges where the people are with a reasonable confidence level.

I am constantly dealing with datasets that are not necessarily fit for purpose – whether the data is outdated, missing attributes, or just simply difficult to understand. However, thanks to open-sourced data now becoming more readily available, basic datasets are improving. Open-sourced datasets are fundamental for environments where there is a lack of data, or if there are time and/or budget restrictions. They allow anyone from anywhere to contribute data and to an extent improve it with their knowledge.

Take Afghanistan for example, with a population of approximately 38,041,757 (in 2019) (according to the World Bank), the country has unfortunately had more than its fair share of bad luck. Since 2018, it has been hit by several environmental disasters including droughts, floods, and freezing temperatures (Relief Web). The widespread conflict, COVID-19, and now the unknown political situation, has exacerbated their hardship, and it is only going to get worse.

Just one of those scenarios would have triggered a monumental humanitarian relief response, let alone multiple events occurring at the same time, resulting in internally displaced people (IDPs, those forced to flee their homes within their own country) and severe food insecurity, to name but a few outcomes.

The United Nations has classified Afghanistan as a “Hunger Hotspot”, where at least 12 million of the population are facing food insecurity (Reuters). This is just one of the many challenges being faced by the Afghan people, and with another drought happening right now, time is of the essence. With the food insecurity example, it is critical aid reaches those in need. But with these multiple events happening simultaneously, how are we meant to know who is affected, and then how will a complex relief operation be able to respond to help those who need it most?

In 2019, the company I work for, Alcis, were determined to help find a solution to this fundamental problem of not knowing the true location of the population in Afghanistan. Using high-resolution satellite imagery and building on work the company carried out in 2014, Alcis set out to digitise every domestic compound in Afghanistan ‘from space’. The datasets were manually created with incredible determination, and they have proved to be invaluable as there is no other population dataset as comprehensive as them.

This one single dataset can be combined with other data and used in multiple geospatial analysis tools, devising numerous datasets and further analysis layers. As stated by Muthukumar Kumar “Location data like all data can be used for more than one purpose”, which I will now explore with a few examples.

One of the most practical uses of this dataset is creating a population density layer. Population density layers can be produced at different resolutions and can provide a generic overview of identifying where the most populated or unpopulated places are in an area. This layer is also beneficial to determine flood event impacts, such as estimating those who have lost their homes and become displaced or predicting those who could be at risk from future events and mitigating impacts from this hazard.

Figure 1: Using Alcis’ compound datasets to assess the location of the population change and their vulnerability to flooding in Parwan Province, Afghanistan.

Another example of how we used the compound data was working with the Norwegian Refugee Council in response to the 2018 drought in Northwest Afghanistan. The aim was to assess the human impact of the vegetation deterioration the drought had caused, which resulted in 371,000 individuals being displaced, adding to the approximate 2.6 million IDPs already in Afghanistan (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)).

The analysis involved our compound data and a crop health deterioration analysis, which involved using the NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) of the region. The Alcis’ NDVI is derived from MODIS satellite imagery and is created using Model Builder in ArcPro, which is used as a proxy for crop health. Without the compound data, we could still estimate the areas that were impacted by the drought, but we wouldn’t be able to determine the number or the locations of individuals who were impacted.

Figure 2: Using Alcis’ 2019 compounds data, to estimate those who are likely to be affected by the 2021 drought in the northern provinces in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, as we have locations of individual compounds, we can combine them with other point datasets and Open Street Map’s Road data, to use them in the ESRI Network Analyst tool. This tool can generate further in-depth analysis, as it can estimate the time and distance from each compound to a local facility (such as a hospital), as well as calculate the number of compounds within varying ranges of a facility.

This method can help establish where people could be underrepresented, by highlighting the population that cannot reach their closest facility, such as a polling station to cast their vote.

Moreover, knowing how many compounds are within a 2-hour driving range from a health facility, for example, could help the United Nations achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals). The compound data would help health clinics locate everyone in their range and provide efficient, adequate, and appropriate care to them all.

Figure 3: An example of how using Alcis’ 2019 compounds with open-sourced data, and ESRI tools can produce in-depth analysis to estimate those who may not have access to health facilities.

The current COVID-19 pandemic poses even more pressing questions that need clear answers to prevent the spread of the virus. These questions may be how many compounds are served by one health centre or is there any part of the population that is not able to reach a health facility.

UNICEF have the significant challenge of globally rolling out vaccines to children, but with COVID-19, they are responsible for the rollout of the new initiative “COVAX“, which is a co-led initiative by GAVI, CEPI, and WHO with the aim of “accelerating the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines” (World Health Organisation). “COVAX” and many others need to locate where everyone is, not just children, in relation to facilities such as schools. Thus, using the Alcis’ 2019 compound data and the network analyst tool, the setting up of emergency vaccination centres, sending field operators to the correct locations, or other necessary approaches would undeniably ensure everyone had safe access to a vaccine.

Granted, Alcis’ 2019 compound data is only for Afghanistan, but there are examples of in-depth population location data for other regions in the world, such as the work led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They provide open-sourced and transparent data such as their African rooftop data. But despite their data providing accurate locations, it is still not enough to determine the location of individuals that are being ‘left behind’ and need assistance elsewhere in the world.

In Afghanistan, there is an unknown element of where or if people have been relocated due to the current political situation or by any other means mentioned previously, both causing internal displacement and further international migration. In response, the challenge in the next few years for providing accurate population data for Afghanistan will be monitoring the change in movement and location. Through identifying the abandoned compounds, establishing the new locations of the resettled population, and the dynamics of IDP camps from satellite imagery, we will make sure that no one is left behind in the forthcoming years.

So what can we do?

Back to the question, how can we as GIS users, carry out “geospatial for good” when we do not actually know where the people are or may not have suitable data for our analysis? There is potential for geospatial users to help solve this issue by creating a decent standard of data through various methods and using it for good. Additionally, as previously discussed, location data has multiple purposes, it is all well and good to spatially know where the population is, but in order to deliver effective analysis and results, you need to also gain an understanding of the situation. The hope is there will be comprehensive population data for those countries or regions that have limited spatial data, so policymakers, GIS analysts, and anyone else who requires the data for analysis would be able to identify where the people are (not who they are) and use geospatial technology ethically and for good.

References:

(in the order mentioned in the article)

United Nations Sustainable Development Group: https://unsdg.un.org/2030- agenda/universal-values/leave-no-one-behind

World bank: https://data.worldbank.org/country/AF Relief Web: https://reliefweb.int/country/afg

Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/drought-compounds-humanitarian- crisis-afghanistan-conflict-intensifies-2021-08-06/

Muthukumar Kumar Geoawesomeness article: https://geoawesomeness.com/using-location- data-to-tackle-the-coronavirus-pandemic/

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC): https://www.internal-displacement.org/ United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/covax

 

Geospatial in Agriculture – WiG+ Essay

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Photo by Njambi Kimani

It’s the beginning of April and Wambui a small-scale farmer in the Bahati Settlement area of Nakuru- Kenya is worried that the rains are a little late. She plans to plant potatoes, beans, and maize in the two hectares farm where she also resides and keeps three dairy cows. On the other side of the river, Mr. Ndoro has over a hundred laborers working to complete the wheat harvesting before the rains begin. He is a rich man with over two hundred hectares of both tea and wheat – an incredible combination that lay beside each other forming a beautiful canopy that transitions from green to brown. He uses a helicopter to spray herbicides on his crops- it’s beautiful. In the dry regions of Solai, Rono takes his two beef cattle to the farmers’ market.  The two are the only remaining ones from a herd of almost three hundred cattle he had the previous year. He wants to shift to growing avocados and he is hopeful that the sixty seedlings he plans to acquire from the cooperation will give him a fortune.

Wambui is my mother, and she is still a little green in the field of geospatial analysis even after she put me through five years of school. She laughs it off when I remind her of this and in her subtle way, challenges me to a task on how my experience can be of help to her agricultural prospects.

All around the different forms of agriculture vary from place to place affected by different factors. Ranging from environmental factors, climatic conditions, and soil composition, a lot of variables come into play in determining sustainable agricultural practices.  Geostatistics, spatial analysis, soil mapping, and sampling are among the vital methods involved in the process. Understanding the different requirements for crops in terms of soil factors (eg. pH, organic carbon), climatic conditions (eg. temperature, precipitation), and environmental factors such as altitude and surrounding ecosystem is crucial. Geospatial technologies have become a holy grail in agricultural research and mapping. Geospatial data has made it possible to carry out suitability analysis for these crops. The area that meets the most of a crop requirement is usually mapped. Spatial analysis paves way for extensive agricultural research such as sustainable seeds and fertilisers.

Environmental modelling, climate modelling, and prediction are research themes that have now become achievable through geospatial science. Integrating both spatial and non-spatial data provides a clearer picture of the state of agriculture and food systems which are now a global concern. Given that the world continues to evolve in industrialization, technology, and urbanization, a healthy population is dependent on good and sustainable agricultural practices.  To be conscious of this, incorporating modern technology with geospatial science to match the ever-evolving world is important. New methods of earth observation science are coming up and coupled with machine learning and data science it is fascinating to see how this geospatial field is becoming more dynamic.

Today, Wambui has become more conscious of the environment and her agricultural practices have become more sustainable. Through soil sampling, she can understand what seeds and fertilisers  to purchase. From the climatic patterns and predictions, she can decide on what to plant and when. Once in a while, she gets the chance to showcase her farming methods to her neighbours, and when asked how she transitioned from the traditional methods of farming, she mentions geospatial science.

 

Slow Ways – a fast adopter of geospatial technology

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Walking in urban spaces – Copyright Dan Raven-Ellison

Geoawesomeness has already reported on the phenomenon which is Slow Ways, however nearly a year later and with the project team awarded significant funding from the Lottery Community Fund it is time to once again showcase this innovative project and update readers on how this is a case study of Geospatial for Good.

“Good geographic information and understanding is at the heart of making Slow Ways a success. In addition to ongoing uncoordinated activity, we will use our geographic data, knowledge and intelligence to specifically target settlements, local authorities and regions across Great Britain.” Dan Raven Ellison, 2021

To recap, Slow Ways is a UK project dedicated to the development of a trusted active travel network enabling people to go on walking journeys from A to B rather than navigate the disjointed system of public rights of way. The Slow Ways Team want more people to walk more often, further and for more purposes and they propose to do this by both inspiring and supporting people to use and contribute to a trusted walking network. Walking brings personal benefits to health and wellbeing as well as deeper solutions to the health, ecological and climate crises, (check out more benefits here). The Slow Ways team will aim to spark the interest of people at all levels from local authority councils down to individuals, and the team intends to use geographical analysis to identify areas to target.

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown guerrilla geographer Dan Raven-Ellison planned for the initial network to be created via a series of hack days but when the nation was put into lockdown in March 2020 the project had to change course. Stuck indoors hundreds of volunteers digitised a network of over 8,000 routes following a set of rules using open data, ordnance survey maps and local knowledge. By the time lockdown began to ease a website had been developed to enable those same volunteers to support the next stage of the project in verifying these routes (each route must be reviewed three times to be considered verified!).

A snapshot of the Slow Ways route network, the dynamic interaction between users and routes result in this map frequently changing – where will you walk today?

How is Slow Ways supported by geospatial technology? What skills and techniques have been utilised? How is this a Geospatial for Good case study?

Currently the Slow Ways infrastructure incorporates ESRI’s ArcOnline web based mapping software which stores the Slow Ways data. Alongside this cloud based environment desktop software (FME and QGIS) has been used to manipulate the data and build a more robust network. Geospatial technology has enabled the Slow Ways project in three particular ways;

  1. A means to store and manage the network
  2. A means to add value to the data
  3. A means to carry out geospatial analysis

First, the network digitised by the lockdown volunteers is dynamic; it is constantly being updated with new routes and additional attribute data by the users on the website. To maintain the integrity of the spatial and attribute information the linear route data is stored in a spatial database. The Slow Ways project uses Survey 123 to allow users to undertake more detailed surveys of routes and this information is also held within the geodatabase. The data is managed as needed using the ArcOnline data tools or by the geospatial lead connecting via ArcGIS Desktop and it is served up to the website via Leaflet which delivers interactive maps to users.

Secondly geospatial workflows add value to the data. By integrating the network with strategic demographic and environmental land use datasets the Slow Ways team can develop a better understanding of the routes. Dynamic statistics can be provided for users, where are the most wooded routes/shortest routes, which routes are flatter and for the slow ways team who can drill down to gather statistics which can be shared on social media to engage users.

Thirdly geospatial analysis can support the Slow Ways team in their drive to nurture user engagement with Slow Ways. Development of visualisation tools such as web maps and dashboards will directly support the Slow Ways team in their targeting of communities to increase participation. Geospatial analysis will also identify areas where there are gaps in the network, or provide insights into the proximities of populations to the slow ways network.

The opportunities for geospatial technology to support Slow Ways will only increase, there are plans to deliver a more dynamic user experience on mobile devices and to also develop active routing so users can plan a journey from their doorstep. In time Slow Ways will hopefully become embedded in the other networks we use allowing users to plan journeys that combine slow ways with public transport.