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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 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.


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  • Thanks very much, Scratch, will do!

  • You can invite uasa - unmanned aerial system association of the Philippines. This is a large group which is credited by civil aviation of the Philippines. You can invite them on their Facebook page UASA
  • there are lots of drone flyers now here in philippines im sure they will be glad to help out on this storm, flyers are now more common compared back in 2010 2011 :)

  • @Randy, thanks!

    @Hugues, thanks for your interest and constructive feedback. Please see: How to Become a Digital Humanitarian in the Philippines

    @Jethro, crowdsourced disaster management is already a powerful application. Please see this TEDx talk for example:

  • Crowd-sourced disaster management could be a very powerful application in the future.

  • MR60

    Is there an explanation of what this micro mapper site is about? I went on it and just found a laconic "click your mouse" in the "what section" and a description of what you can do with coconuts on its home page !?

  • Developer

    Looks good.  It's very interesting to see the crowd sourcing of map analysis as was done on a large scale with the loss of the Malasian airlines flight.

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