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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid