Deploying MicroMappers to Tag Live Aerial Video Feeds from UAVs

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are small remote control “planes” and “helicopters”. This new technology is expected to play an increasingly important role in a wide range of humanitarian and development projects. In fact, MicroMappers (developed by QCRI) has already deployed three times to crowdsource the analysis of aerial imagery captured by UAVs. The most recent of these deployments was in response to the Category 5 Cyclone in the Pacific in April 2015, which was a joint collaboration with the World Bank (picture below).

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UAVs are becoming more sophisticated every year. Some UAVs can already broadcast live photographs and video feeds to the web. In the case of Cyclone Pam, we had to wait for the UAVs to land and then to save the imagery to computers and then to upload the imagery to the web. With newer UAVs, we can analyze the imagery in real-time. We are thus excited to partner with the ORCHID Project team at the University of Southampton to test a new Clicker that they have developed to crowdsource the tagging of live video footage from flying UAVs. (You can read more about ORCHID’s research here). This Clicker, which we’re calling the AirVideo Clicker, will enable us to quickly tag areas of disaster damage in the live videos. Thanks to this novel approach, our humanitarian and development partners will get access to the resulting analysis in near-real time as shown in the video below (courtesy of ORCHID):

What you see in this video is the result of dozens of individuals tagging areas that appear to show infrastructure damaged. When the majority of volunteers tag the same area, that area lights up like a “heat map”, alerting the UAV pilot and our humanitarian partners that there may be damage at that location. The purpose of our test-deployment is to see what happens when 100’s of digital humanitarians tag aerial videos at the same time and to get your feedback on the interface: what works, what doesn’t work, and how to improve the Clicker so that we have a better version when a real humanitarian or development project requires our support. For the purposes of this test, the “live” video feeds will come from aerial videos that were captured by UAVs in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.

If you’re interested in pioneering this unique new technology, then please mark Saturday, September 5th in your calendars. The testing will only take 30 minutes and you can chose from several different testing times that are offered on the 5th of September. Simply add your availability here before September 1st. No prior experience or superhero skills required! If you can click “Like” on a Facebook picture, you too can be a Digital Humanitarian.

Thanks for reading, we really hope you’ll join this exciting new project!

With gratitude,
MicroMappers Team (Patrick & Ji) & Southampton Team (Elliot & Gopal)