News / Africa

Google Leads Effort to Get South Sudan on Map

Sudanese children displaced from their homes in the rebel stronghold of Kauda take shelter in the hills surrounding the town in the Nuba mountains as they flee with their families from government bombardment, June 30, 2011
Sudanese children displaced from their homes in the rebel stronghold of Kauda take shelter in the hills surrounding the town in the Nuba mountains as they flee with their families from government bombardment, June 30, 2011
Gabe Joselow

To help south Sudan prepare for independence, Internet giant Google is training volunteers to help improve maps of the new country. While the initiative aims to facilitate development in the south, it also could have political implications.

What is a country without a map? On the brink of independence, south Sudan lacks a lot of basic information about its own towns and communities.

Now, a project organized by Google, the World Bank and other organizations is recruiting volunteers with local knowledge of the region to fill in the gaps.

France Lamy, program director for Google.org, explained the system at a "mapping Sudan" conference in Nairobi.

"Map Maker is a web mapping collaborative platform, which combines high resolution imagery while also allowing the communities to map features that they know such as schools, roads, hospitals, using high-resolution imagery as background information," said Lamy. "So this is to map basic infrastructures."

Here’s how it works. Pretty much anybody with Internet access can add information to Google’s satellite map images using Map Maker.  They click on a building and identify it as a school. Or click on a stretch of road and write in the name. The information is checked and verified by other volunteers.

In south Sudan in particular, the point is to help improve maps so that the government can identify where services like schools and hospitals are most needed. It also could help non-governmental organizations and aid workers better serve the area.

"What the United Nations indicated, what was important to map, was the main cities, especially in local, rural areas, and also the transportation networks," said Lamy.

Organizers deny that the program could be used for political purposes as northern and southern Sudan battle over the future boundaries of the two countries.

But Charles Mona, who heads the south's mapping office, said the data that the Google project provides could still help the south in the border dispute.

"The data we are having, we are collecting, can show a distinct border between the north and the south, but as I was saying, some people may not accept that fact," said Mona. "So unless that political will is there, it will be not much help."

Some southern Sudanese also remain skeptical about the project.

Bol Agoot is a 25-year old economics student at Nairobi University and a native of Southern Kordofan, one of the disputed areas.

"It should start from south Sudan rather than starting from the Diaspora - we are just a group," said Agoot. "We don't know who is doing what in south Sudan. So we expect this program to be between the government and the Google and the World Bank.  But the way it is started, it looks like it is the World Bank and the Google and then later they will invite southern Sudan to join them."

The event in Nairobi was the second mapmaking conference hosted by Google and the World Bank, following a first effort in Washington in April. Organizers hope to hold the next session in south Sudan.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid