More than 30 million coconut trees were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. This has had a devastating impact on local livelihoods. To make matters worse, the rotting trunks of uprooted coconut trees has let to an infestation of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, which is destroying the remaining healthy trees in some areas. So the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) has teamed up with the Filipino UAV company SkyEye to crowdsource the analysis of thousands of aerial photographs that were recently taken of affected areas. This week, hundreds of digital volunteers from around the world will use the MicroMappers website (screenshot above) to trace the trunks of healthy and unhealthy trees.
The results will enable our humanitarian partners to assess the current situation. We will also use the resulting data to create machine learning classifiers so that destroyed coconut trees can be automatically detected in future aerial imagery. This has applications will beyond the Philippines since many disaster prone countries in tropical areas grow and depend on coconut trees as a source of livelihood.
To take part in this crowdsourcing effort join the MicroMappers list-serve here simply send a blank email to MicroMappersemail@example.com. The project will start on Friday, December 5th at 12pm London time (GMT) and will run until 8pm Sunday, December 7th (end time is variable). So check your emails on December 5th; we’ll send out an email at 12pm with the link you’ll need to volunteer. This link will first lead you to a tutorial which will include a short video on how to use MicroMappers to trace the trees. This is very simple to do, which means no prior experience is necessary.
Our previous deployment of MicroMappers, which also used aerial imagery, focused on wildlife protection in Namibia and was recently featured on CNN here.