Mallon Technology Staff Participate in Tomnod Project

Wed 8th Jul 2015

Nepal Tomnod Project 2015

With the recent Earthquakes in Nepal devastating much of the country, staff from Mallon Technology played a small part in assisting the relief effort to help survivors with a number of staff from the Dublin office participating in the Tomnod project to help identify damage to local infrastructure.

The Tomnod project is a crowd sourcing initiative that is run by the satellite company DigitalGlobe and first gained media attention during the 2011 Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, before gaining notoriety with its role in attempting to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight last year. As part of the Tomnod project, a large amount of satellite data that is owned by DigitalGlobe is made freely available online with the hope of identifying areas of interest for rescue crews on the ground.

Working during their own time, the Team of GIS Technicians from the Dublin office used two separate layers of satellite imagery during their role in the project. The first layer featured images taken before the Earthquake struck on 1st April, whilst the second layer contained newer images taken after the Earthquake. By examining the two layers of images for particular areas of Nepal before and after the Earthquake, damage to the local infrastructure could be identified. By scanning through the landscape via a tailor-made user interface, digitisers could tag areas of interest with marker points to highlight specific features which would be of interest to and could assist aid rescuers. Features of particular interest included damaged buildings, damaged roads/bridges, areas of major destruction and tents/shelters.

Using an algorithm designed by the Tomnod team, once a certain number of users had tagged the same area, that location was passed to rescue teams on the ground. With the algorithm computing the greatest number of tagged areas, it highlighted the locations of some of the greatest destruction, allowing NGO's to organise their relief efforts in an effective way. The identification of damaged roads and bridges helped to inform rescue teams of a likely blocked route restricting access, allowing them to track a different route around any obstructions, saving valuable time when distributing aid to remote locations.

Participating in the Tomnod project proved to be a very worthwhile humanitarian exercise and hopefully the small part that Mallon Technology staff played will have at least in some way contributed to the overall relief effort. If you would like to learn more about the work undertaken by Tomnod or to participate in one of their projects make sure you check out their website.