Maps are crucial to the development of a country. But often in the emerging world they don’t exist. In Tanzania this gap is being bridged through communities coming together and mapping their own communities. This is done through the Ramani Huria community mapping project – an ongoing project that supports communities to become more resilient to floods. In doing so, a lot of map data is created for the whole city as free and open data, so it can be used by anyone.

This is incredibly useful as this data contains information about buildings, roads, water points and financial centres – data that usually just doesn’t exist. This is exemplified by the map comparison widget below:

Dar es Salaam, Before and After

Ramani Huria is just one exemplar project of many in vibrant open data scene in Tanzania. Through innovation spaces and support from developmental/government institutions the Open Data community is thriving. This is demonstrated through innovation and experimentation, for example with drones.

Satellite imagery is now ubiquitous, however, often lacks the resolution, temporal accuracy or sometimes just has clouds in it. Drones mitigate these challenges, by flying below the cloud, whenever required, with the limitation that the distance covered is less when compared to satellites. Through combing the high resolution of drones with the scale of satellites a strong foundation for coverage for Dar es Salaam now exists. Accordingly, the World Bank working with the Government of Tanzania and others are working to collect very high resolution aerial imagery from drones. By making it freely available under an open license on OpenAerialMap, a unique opportunity exists to fuse data from community mapping and the aerial imagery streams together and create baselines of how the city operates.

Our work will build on this foundation and, in-time, support the flying of new missions. Watch this space!