Fredonia State students use satellite imagery to aid humanitarian relief efforts

Fredonia State students in GeoVentures utilized satellite imagery to support humanitarian relief efforts in the lake basin region of Chad.

Students in GeoVentures, the YouthMappers chapter at the State University of New York at Fredonia, utilized satellite imagery to support humanitarian relief efforts in the lake basin region of Chad, an impoverished country in north central Africa.

More than 120 Fredonia students used remotely sensed data to identify areas of greatest need to guide response efforts by relief workers on the ground. In all, more than 63,000 edits – identifications of individual homes and buildings — in unmapped areas — were made by the students. The rapid response, as well as planning of this type of humanitarian work, would not be possible without the type of technical support offered by students like those in Fredonia’s YouthMappers chapter.

This area of Chad has experienced an influx of displaced populations that has exerted pressure over already scarce essential resources, resulting in sharp increases in humanitarian needs for food, healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation for refugees as well as residents in host communities. Moreover, around 780 unaccompanied children require protection as well.

YouthMappers is a consortium of student mapping chapters based at universities around the world that was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) GeoCenter in 2015. Through the use of a web-based, open mapping platform, the program provides university students with the opportunity to learn mapping skills, develop leadership experience and create new geospatial data for development projects in unmapped places where USAID works.

The GeoVenturers chapter, established by Dr. Michael Jabot of Fredonia’s College of Education, is one of 23 inaugural chapters formed around the world that have been recognized on numerous occasions for their leadership in the involvement of women in their work.

The chapter has contributed to a number of field campaigns nationally and internationally, including humanitarian efforts around the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, as well as relief needs around the flooding caused by monsoons in Sri Lanka. The chapter welcomes any interested individuals from across the campus as well as from surrounding communities regardless of age. For more information, contact Dr. Jabot at jabot@fredonia.edu.