Population density is one of the most important statistics for development efforts across many sectors, and since early 2016 the World Bank has been collaborating with Facebook on evaluating a new source of high-resolution population data that sheds light on previously unmapped populations.
The Gampaha District is an urban and agricultural district located on the Western coast of Sri Lanka just north of Colombo in the Attanagalu Oya River basin. This area is very prone to flooding with important human, material, and financial damages.
When I first heard about OpenStreetMap (OSM) – the so called Wikipedia of maps, built by volunteers around the world – I was skeptical of its ability to scale, usability in decision making, and ultimate longevity among new ideas conceived in the digital age. Years later, having working on many disaster risk management initiatives across the globe, I can say that I am a passionate advocate for the power of this community. And I continue to be struck by the power of one small initiative like OSM that brings together people across cultures and countries to save lives. It is more than a technology or a dataset, it’s a global community of individuals committed to making a difference.
People may be surprised to find that the maps we take for granted in metropolitan areas of the developed world may be completely absent, vastly out of date, or pay-per-view in the developing world. Imagine an urban area without a transportation network, government agencies without access to the location of their assets (schools, health facilities, etc), or even a map without village names. This is the reality for many of the countries most vulnerable to disaster risk. Now, imagine this urban area facing an unprecedented crisis brought by flooding, an earthquake, a pandemic – think about the challenges of planning a response.
An innovative World Bank team in Tanzania is exploring the use of UAVs for disaster risk reduction efforts. Spearheaded by colleague Edward Anderson, the team recently partnered with friends at Drone Adventures to capture very high-resolution images of flood-prone areas in the country’s capital. This imagery is now being used to generate Digital Terrain Models to develop more reliable flood-inundation models at… Read more »
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This post is a summary of one that appeared on the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Site and was originally authored by Christina Irene.