POWER IS GENERATED
Rounding the turn, Fatmata Kabia checks that the phone camera remains in place, snapping street view images every few seconds. She accelerates, feeling the power of her motorcycle engine draw her down the streets of Lunsar.
Along with her teammates, Fatmata is helping to map fundamental features of rural communities across the countryside of Sierra Leone. Charting location of buildings, tracing streets, and pinpointing where utility poles dot the landscape informs efforts to design and install mini-grids in places without power, or with insufficient service. By understanding settlement patterns, road connectivity, and the layout of current low-voltage distribution networks, the team will speed up and scale up design for rural electrification in dozens more towns.
Using the Mapillary mobile collection app on a phone tethered to the handlebars, Fatmata is part of a group of YouthMappers from local Sierra Leone chapters and the OSM Sierra Leone team, trekking across roadways to capture snaps of powerlines and poles. They supplement some of the photography with drones. Back on their computers, they coordinate augmented extraction of roads and buildings, too, from satellite imagery, utilizing AI-supported digitization on the TeachOSM instance of the HOT Tasking Manager where the Map With AI tools of Facebook and Microsoft suggest which items to tag. Crowd-verification of the poles in her photos is sourced with a pic4review mission. In this part of the campaign, they are joined by the entire YouthMappers network, local and global. Everything is again validated by the YouthMappers Validation Team at The George Washington University, and the topology data is exported to power engineering design specialists at Arizona State University Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions for a mini-grid feasibility analysis. Clustering analysis helps identify the size and boundaries of the mini-grid, and asset placement.
Thanks to Tommy Charles (OSM Sierra Leone), Elena van Hove (Arizona State University), Christopher Beddow (Mapillary); Drishtie Patel, Facebook; Harsh Govind, Microsoft; Mukhtar Hamzat, and Nathan G. Johnson, ASU Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions (LEAPS); Rory Nealon, USAID GeoCenter; Stephen A K Kassigbie, Tigidanke Fofana, Grace Kainessie, and all of the YouthMappers students who contributed from Fourah Bay College and University of Makeni in particular; Jennings Anderson; Richard Hinton, YouthMappers and George Washington University; Dara Carney-Nedelman, YouthMappers; Marcela Zeballos, YouthMappers and Texas Tech University; Nuala Cowan, World Bank; Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team; Patricia Solís, ASU Knowledge Exchange for Resilience.
Access to electricity across Sierra Leone may be limited or unreliable, especially for rural communities. This has led to the exclusion and underdevelopment of remote communities with women and girls being the most affected. Women and girls are especially empowered by access to modern and affordable energy in remote communities. They often bear a disproportionate labor burden for their households, while reliable power can help to alleviate many of these domestic tasks. Entrepreneurial activities that improve women’s incomes can be accelerated in places where electricity access is currently lacking. The provision of adequate energy sources also reinforces efforts to prevent disease and fight pandemics –powering healthcare facilities and enabling communications. Electric water pumps can alleviate time-consuming errands of fetching water, which typically falls to girls, early morning and late at night.
Data from Fatmata’s moto-mounted phone makes its way through AI augmented local and remote humanitarian mapping, to provide detailed technical specification of power system analysis. This process improves mini-grid project cost estimates by up to 60 and speeds up the scoping process by as much as 90% faster. Everywhere she maps, including rural communities in Sierra Leone, isolated at long distances from the national grid, will be empowered with mini-grids which can also be adapted to provide electricity through renewable energy generation like solar PV and wind.
These mapping and data collection efforts, led by female emerging student leaders in the YouthMappers network, hold the potential to benefit millions around the world by making available critical, mapping data relevant to half the world’s population, so that security improves, lives are saved, power is generated, prosperity rises, and innovation happens.
Everywhere She Maps is an activity supported by the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative conducted by and for YouthMappers which is sponsored by the GeoCenter of the United States Agency for International Development.