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News — 21 July, 2016

HOT Launches New PacDID Drone Imagery Project

Earlier this month HOT launched the new Pacific Drone Imagery Dashboard (PacDID) project to support aerial imagery use in Pacific island communities. In places like Fiji and Vanuatu, which have experienced significant typhoon damage in recent years, the "view from above" provided by satellites, aircraft and more recently by drones, is a crucial resource needed in any phase of disaster risk management, from preparedness, to response, to recovery. The PacDID project was formed out of the need to further enable imagery as a resource within Pacific island communities through the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge (PHC), and built on the work we’ve done with OpenAerialMap (OAM).  

Finding, organizing and sharing imagery is extremely challenging. Often this is due to lack of standard workflows and clear licensing, especially when dealing with a variety of imagery sources. To address this issue, in 2015 HOT developed OpenAerialMap, with the effort to providing comprehensive access to all openly license imagery available. For the PHC, we developed the idea of extending the OAM concept to the challenging context of the Pacific island region. After two successful evaluation rounds, our PacDID proposal was finally selected as one of the five winners for funding.

We are very excited to kick off this new project, which provides opportunities to further develop OAM and at the same time to work with local communities to define efficient workflows for collecting, sharing and using aerial imagery in humanitarian response scenarios.  PacDID will consist of an online dashboard for stakeholders, analysts and decision makers to assess what imagery is available for any specific areas. It will also enable drone mappers and satellite image providers to share their data through standard formats and compression methods to optimize data flow in bandwidth-limited island environments.

As demonstrated in the 2015 response to Cyclone Pam, humanitarian drones were able to quickly image large swaths of the devastated areas of Efate, Erromango and Tanna islands, with unprecedented detail. By building PacDID we want to enable effective sharing of this crucial information, and at the same time develop mechanisms that ensure privacy and security where needed. We will leverage existing guidelines such as the UAViators Code of Conduct and propose more technical ones for standardizing flight plan information, drone mapping metadata and processing workflows.

The PacDID project has officially started on July 1st 2016 and will run for one year. Our work plan focuses on user-centered design approach and is being supported by our colleagues at Development Seed. We will begin with planning and defining initial needs and design strategy and then move into a build phase. We will then test and evaluate initial work through a coordinated use case scenario with the Pacific Community (SPC), the largest scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region. Testing and user feedback will continue and lead to further refinement until the final phases.

As with any other HOT project, all source code will be made publicly available on Github. If you wish to get involved and contribute to PacDID and OAM, get in touch and tell us about your ideas. The first project meeting is scheduled for August 3-5 at the SPC office in Suva, Fiji.

Stay tuned for more updates soon. Vinaka!