Ecopia Tech, a Canadian company which uses artificial intelligence to create detailed, high-definition linear data maps from satellite and aerial imagery, has secured USD 6.5 million to map sub-Saharan Africa.
The funds were raised from Sustainable Development Technology, Canada, a foundation created by the Canadian government to promote cleantech innovations by Canadian firms. The foundation funds and supports small and medium-sized enterprises developing and demonstrating clean technology solutions.
Speaking on this, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, said, “Through SDTC, our Government is proud to support Canadian technology success stories, like Ecopia, that are driving cleantech innovation and creating good quality jobs, while also protecting our environment.”
In support, Leah Lawrence, President and CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), said that the initiative will enable a wide range of global sustainability and humanitarian benefits, and demonstrate the commitment to helping businesses scale and compete on the global stage.
With this funds, Ecopia Tech will map an estimated 342 million buildings, 2.36 million linear miles of roads and 1.43 billion acres of forests in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Mauritius, Nigeria and many others. Ecopia Tech will do this by converting high-resolution images of the real earth into high-definition vector maps.
Although new to sub-Saharan Africa, the Toronto-based tech firm has previously mapped 18,588,871 buildings in Tanzania, an East African country, by providing high-resolution satellite imagery and advanced artificial intelligence tech. The Canadian firm partnered with Maxar Technologies, a U.S. space tech company, in 2018 to create Tanzania’s first complete map. The operation took three weeks to complete.
Digital maps are used to help with urban planning and monitor the environment as well as to promote economic efficiency.
Up-to-date digital maps of sub-Saharan Africa’s buildings, roads and general infrastructure could be used by private and public sector organizations for decision-making related to social and economic applications.
These maps are also useful when preparing for disaster responses, or deciding where to distribute vaccines for viruses based on where the imagery suggests high-population zones may be and for technological advancements.
Ogechi Onuoha is a Cambridge Certified ESOL editor with a background in reporting, international relations, creative writing and adept in industry research and analysis. She is passionate about curating and evaluating the benefits/relevance of space to grassroots development and women’s participation in the space sector.