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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid