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Archive for the ‘International Conference of Crisis Mappers’ Category

OpenDroneMap — Humanitarian uses of outputs

Posted by smathermather on January 12, 2015

OpenDroneMap Logo


In response to a recent query about OpenDroneMap, I’m writing a quick summary here, and then a brief write-up on how it could relate to humanitarian response / crisis mapping applications, as discussed in my Deep Dive session at International Conference of Crisis Mappers in New York, this past November.  Ahem. The summary:

OpenDroneMap: Open Source Toolkit for processing Civilian Drone Imagery

“OpenDroneMap is an Open Source Toolkit for processing Civilian Drone Imagery. As small unmanned aerial systems have dropped in price and become readily affordable, software for making meaningful geographic data from civilian drones has not. Until now.

“OpenDroneMap is fully Free and Open Source postprocessing tool for highly overlapping unreferenced imagery, turning unstructured data (simple photos) into structured geographic data such as colorized point clouds, digital surface models, textured digital surface models, and highly detailed orthophotography.

The project can be found at”

So, cool stuff. But what does that mean? What do we really get at the end of the day, so to speak, at least within the context of crisis response. To answer this question, I’ll divide this into two categories — goodies we get now and goodies we will get later as the project matures.

Products we get now from OpenDroneMap:

  1. Point Cloud
  2. Textured Mesh
  3. Up to 1-2cm (or so) orthophotos

What can we do with 2cm imagery in the crisis response context? My colleagues at ICCM addressed this question:

  • Structural Mapping
  • Logistics and Supply Planning
  • Count People — IDPs, Protests
  • Identify Equipment / Weaponry
  • Finding people (search and rescue)
  • Finding Animals (conservation)

Products we get later from OpenDroneMap (as the project matures and adds features):

As to future products from the toolchain we will derive the following:

  • 4cm Terrain / Surface Models
  • Off-Nadir Imagery

Again, drawing from the brainstorming at ICCM:

4cm Terrain / Surface Models yield us:

  • Off-road route planning
  • Hydrology / innundation estimation
  • Damage assessment — rubble volume estimation
  • Agricultural Planning

Off-Nadir Imagery:

  • Forensics
  • Damage Assessment (useful for building especially which often won’t show damage on roof)
  • Context for video footage


The UAViators site lists the following (complementary and otherwise related to the above) uses of UAVs to support humanitarian efforts:

Together, these teams work collaborate to facilitate various uses of UAVs to support humanitarian efforts. These include:   

  • Rapid assessment of disaster damage to building infrastructure
  • Rapid assessment of powerlines and other electricity infrastructure
  • Identify usable roads and transportation infrastructure
  • Identify useful areas for humantiarians to set up base camp
  • Aerial support for road clearance activities
  • Estimate population displacement
  • Identify temporary shelters
  • Identify best locations to set up new temporary shelters
  • Survey impact of disaster on agriculture, farmland
  • Search and Rescue
  • Identifying whether radio transmitters/comms on the ground still work

Posted in 3D, Bundler, Camera Calibration, Conference, FOSS4G 2014, Image Processing, International Conference of Crisis Mappers, OpenDroneMap, Optics, Photogrammetry, PMVS | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

ICCM — International Conference of Crisis Mappers

Posted by smathermather on November 9, 2014

Screen shot of Crisis Mappers landing page

Screen shot of Crisis Mappers landing page

The mark of a great conference is one that not only is well run and orchestrated, interesting from a content perspective, and full of bright minds, but also one that experiments with elements of interactions to maximize the value delivered to attendees. By these measures, the International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) succeeds. Normally, I struggle with the call to attend sessions vs. the conference hallway conversations which can be of such great value. ICCM provided enough context and structure for enjoying both, plus a number of other participatory structures in which to interact with and learn from other ICCM attendees.

For attending ICCM, I had plans to only hallway chat about, in order to get a measure of the culture and needs, and also of the interest for such a project from digital humanitarians in an effort to get enough interest to begin to garnish users and contributors. Thanks to some last minute slots opening up, and on the kind recommendation of Jen Ziemke, I was able to show OpenDroneMap at the Tech & Analysis Fair at Google at the start of the conference and also do a well attended deep dive session on Saturday. In each, I got great questions and recommendations, did a brainstorming session on use in the deep dive session, and had a thoroughly great time.

More later, but I will end with this — if you like technology, have empathy and a desire to apply empathetic design, development, and sweat equity to humanitarian needs, then get signed up at, become a participant in HOT, join the Standby Task Force, and / or all the other work done by digital humanitarians, and make your way to Boston next year for the next ICCM.

Bravo, all.

Posted in 3D, International Conference of Crisis Mappers, OpenDroneMap | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »