February 14, 2011
Satellite Sentinel Project Uses Commercial Satellite Imagery to Monitor Sudanese Conflict
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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SSP aims to create an interactive portable map that will combine Google Map Maker and satellite imagery with field analysis and concise, clear calls to action. “We want to share this app for free with students, academic and human rights activists all over the world,” said Hutson.

Not On Our Watch gave $750,000 in seed money for a six month start up phase and the SSP hopes to secure additional funding to extend the startup phase throughout this crisis in southern Sudan.

Ushahidi has included its Sudan vote-monitor project to incorporate crowdsourced data into SSP's crisis mapping and reports. There has also been some imagery donated to UNISAT by GeoEye and other satellite firms have asked how they could become involved with the project.

More people in Africa including Sudan have cell phones than have laptops. Thus mobile technology is essential to communicating with people on the ground.

Students care a lot about Darfur and preventing genocide and mass atrocities. SSP is collaborating with MTV and MTVU. MTVU is on 24/7 in 750 college campuses nationwide, and in all the fitness centers, dorms, and dining rooms. MTVU has put SSP on their home page; SSP will develop a free app to give away so students all over the world can become inspired by it and develop their own approaches to other crises in other countries.

Mapping Plans

Most of the imagery of Southern Sudan has been low resolution and has not been any where near near real time.

The plan of SSP is to create maps based on the experiences of people who have lived and worked in Sudan, then geotag it. It is difficult to get accurate information in Sudan, said Hutson, as there can be four different villages that have the same name, in a region where people speak four different languages, and spelling and pronunciations vary. “We actually need some one on the ground with a GPS transponder to identify it by its characteristics and its proximity to bodies of water, other villages, etc.”

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative was to develop the first accurate database of GPS coordinates so that data can be triangulated and referenced on a point based on a fixed known starting point and then be able to develop a basic map. Hutson said, “Whether there is peace or war, you can't build a nation without accurate maps. You can't decide where to build a hospital, clinic or school.”

Google's worldwide community of mapmakers, “Power Mappers,” are trained in how to use Google Map Maker for crisis response. They were called to map the Pakistani floods and determine humanitarian relief. People whose villages had been flooded needed food, water and medicine.

Two Pakistani developers who were instrumental in the Pakistani effort using Google Map Maker volunteered to help develop the basic application that SSP used to launch their interactive map.

Top News

The beta release of the highly anticipated
File Geodatabase API is now available and will help developers improve the interoperability of applications. The API allows developers to create applications that can interact with a file geodatabase without using ArcObjects so that applications can be run on computers that do not have an ArcObjects license. The File Geodatabase API is a C++ library that allows developers to Create, open, and delete file geodatabases.
  • Read the schema of file geodatabases.
  • Create and edit schema for simple feature objects within a file geodatabase.
  • Read, edit, and delete simple features in a file geodatabase.
  • Perform attribute and limited spatial queries.

  • Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced it was awarded a task order by the
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide software engineering and technical support to the Office of Environmental Information (OEI). The task order has a four month base period of performance, four one-year options and a total value of $20 million if all options are exercised. Work will be performed primarily in McLean, Va. The Next Generation Geographic Information Systems Support (NGISS) task order was awarded under the EPA's ORD Software Engineering and Specialized Scientific Support (SES3) contract.

    As part of their
    Public Mapping Project, Dr. Michael P. McDonald of George Mason University and Dr. Micah Altman, Senior Research Scientist at Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science, have teamed up with
    Azavea, a geospatial analysis (GIS) software development company, to develop District Builder, an open source, web-based redistricting application. The software is designed to give the public access to online redistricting tools and can be configured to redistrict any state or locality within the United States

    MapQuest, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Inc. released a series of new tools for developers, new sites for the OpenStreetMap (OSM) community, and new global routing for all.

    GfK GeoMarketing will be launching an entirely new version of its geomarketing software RegioGraph at the upcoming CeBIT 2011 trade fair: "RegioGraph Strategy". This new version of the software includes detailed data and offers a wide array of options for analyzing information down to the level of street segments. The software is geared toward businesses wishing to extract insights based on the geographic analysis of company and market data. Additional features of RegioGraph 2011 include new territory- and location-planning functions as well as an overhauled user interface and an updated cartographic basis. RegioGraph provides support for a diverse range of tasks in sales,
    marketing, expansion-planning and controlling.

    Esri software and services are being used as part of a project in a special episode of the Emmy Award-winning hit TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The episode aired on ABC Television on January 30, 2011. It showcased a new home built for Jeannie and Johnnie Mac Brown, who tragically lost their teenage daughter, Alex, in a car accident as the result of texting while driving.

    Urban Mapping, Inc (UMI), a provider of web services and on-demand data for interactive mapping applications, announced the availability of Acxiom's InfoBase® Business Directory Database within Mapfluence, the company's web-based mapping platform. UMI, known for its leadership in geographic data sourcing, curation, and hosting, selected InfoBase due to its breadth, accuracy and relevance for Mapfluence industry solutions. Direct marketing, site selection and business intelligence professionals can now thematically map firmographic data on the Mapfluence platform.


    3-GIS, an Alabama based product development and services company and
    “Data +”, Russia's leading provider of technologies and solutions for the creation of geographic information systems (GIS) have announced a partnership agreement.

    Telvent, real-time IT solutions and information provider for a sustainable world, announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire an additional stake and make an additional investment in
    Telvent DMS, LLC. The transaction also includes acquisition of energy management systems (EMS) applications and a new three year R&D plan which will enhance and extend its presence in global utility smart grid infrastructure investments.

    Aeroquest International Limited and
    OSI Geospatial Inc. announced the acquisition by Aeroquest of the Mapcon Mapping group of companies from OSI, which closed on January 31, 2011. Mapcon provides LiDAR, photogrammetry and related geomatic services to customers in the North American marketplace. Mapcon consists of two entities: a Canadian sales, operations and project management team located in Burnaby, BC; and a United States sales team located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mapcon generated approximately $4 million of revenue in its last fiscal year.

    Expert System, the provider of semantic software that searches, discovers, classifies and interprets text information, and
    Esri Italia announce a partnership aimed to offer solutions which combine the capabilities of semantic technology with spatial and geo-referencing analysis and management technology, for increased OSINT capabilities.

    Intergraph Corporation and
    S&C Electric Company announced a strategic alliance to deliver integrated self-healing solutions for the smart grid. By joining Intergraph's GeoMedia Product Suite, an integrated set of geospatial processing applications, and the S&C IntelliTEAM SG Automatic Restoration System, the alliance supports creation of an interoperable smart-grid electric delivery system.

    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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