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08.31.2020 | News & Events

U.S. Department of State and Maxar to Host an AI-Assisted Mapathon for Humanitarian Mapping in Nigeria

By: Maxar Technologies

Read Time: 3 minutes

This mapathon is now complete. Please check out this blog post for the mapathon results.

As humanitarian organizations try to respond to COVID-19 and maintain existing activities around the world, a geospatial understanding of the locations being affected, or potentially affected, is crucial information. Current data and maps are always needed to organize the best humanitarian responses. The fastest way to update maps is to augment traditional mapping techniques with artificial intelligence (AI).

Maxar has partnered with the U.S. Department of State to host an AI-assisted mapathon in Nigeria on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. MapGive, a State Department initiative that encourages volunteer participation in the global mapping community and facilitates the creation of open geographic data to support humanitarian response and development programs, has highlighted three cities in Nigeria where filling in holes in the map with publicly accessible open data can help local humanitarian and development activities. In engagement with local YouthMappers’ Nigerian university chapters and coordination with the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), this remote mapping event will also try to improve the open map around local health facilities.

Lagos, Nigeria as seen from Maxar’s WorldView-3 satellite.

This mapathon will enable volunteer mappers to use Maxar’s high-resolution satellite imagery and AI-powered tools on OpenStreetMap (OSM) to update public map data for Ibadan, Kano and Lagos, allowing for the most current information to be used for local activities and any humanitarian responses. Maxar released this imagery via our Open Data Program public website under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 license (CC BY-NC 4.0) as part of our commitment to serve the humanitarian community by providing actionable information to assist response efforts and fulfilling our purpose, For a Better World. Additionally, building and structure vector data that will be remotely mapped by this mapathon will identify key infrastructure necessary for humanitarian response and will be added to the Open Data site as additional datasets.

We’ll host a kick-off event on Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. ET to introduce and provide training on the AI tools - register here. Volunteer mappers from around the world with any level of mapping skills are invited to virtually join this mapathon:

  • Beginners will engage in data validation by using a quality assurance tool from Maxar. Volunteers will likely encounter errors like features that are incorrectly overlapping, missing bridges and disconnected highways.
  • Intermediate mappers will focus on adding buildings to the map using JOSM, the advanced OSM editor. PEPFAR defined urban areas that likely need to be mapped around clusters of health facilities.
  • Advanced mappers will be directed to a project in the Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT) tasking manager, joining the Intermediate mappers in mapping dense urban areas. In addition, Maxar applied a predictive AI-based tool to define points of interest in Nigeria that likely need to be mapped as well as surrounding buildings to best support humanitarian activities.

Urban areas to be mapped in Lagos, Nigeria.

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