Node.js - Development Seed The latest developments in evented, server-side javascript. en Tapping into OpenStreetMap Metadata <p>We just launched <a href="">v0.1 of a new tool</a> to tap into OpenStreetMap changeset metadata. We built the tool in partnership with the American Red Cross as part of the infrastructure for tracking efforts such as <a href="">#MissingMaps</a>.</p> <p><a href="">OpenStreetMap changesets</a> give us access to a wealth of metadata information that is not specifically geographic but incredibly rich. Metadata is helpful in understanding the changing nature of OSM. This is different from using geographic APIs like <a href="">Overpass</a> because metadata contains commit text, number of edits, which editor was used, etc. With metadata, we can <a href="">track hashtags</a>, analyze commit text or aggregate user metrics.</p> <p>In 2014 alone, users committed over 6 million changesets to OSM. As OpenStreetMap's metadata grows, dealing with the sheer amount can be daunting. We built <a href="">osm-meta-util</a> as an experiment in making OSM metadata easier and faster to use.</p> <p><img src="{{%20site.url%20}}/images/gifs/osm-meta.gif" alt="Running the utility" /></p> <p>osm-meta-util focuses on two core functions: downloading the minutely compressed metadata files and serializing into JSON. We convert compressed OSM XML files containing multiple commits to a stream of JSON objects that can be piped to any tool or API.</p> <p>You can use the library in a Node application or as a command-line utility to download all the data between two dates:</p> <pre><code class="javascript">MetaUtil({ 'start': process.argv[2], 'end': process.argv[3], 'delay': process.argv[4] }).pipe(process.stdout) </code></pre> <p>In combination with <a href="">jq</a>, to get a commit history we can simply run:</p> <pre><code class="sh">node app 001181708 001181721 1000 | jq -c '{date: .created_at, text: .comment}' </code></pre> <p>If you don't give the tool any parameters, it will get the latest changesets and update every minute.</p> <p>We're using this utility to experiment building a metadata API with the American Red Cross. But we know there are many more uses of the rich OSM metadata and want to see what others can do with the tool. Together with the American Red Cross we've put this on <a href="">OSM Lab</a>, a Github organization for OSM related projects. Follow the development of osm-meta-util on <a href="">Github</a>.</p> 2015-02-19T18:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Hello Mariano Arrien-Gomez! <p><img src="" alt="mariano" /></p> <p>Mariano Arrien-Gomez is joining Development Seed. Mariano is going to help us by creating beautiful illustrations and impactful visualizations. Mariano takes his inspiration from the world around him and expresses himself via illustration, photography and <a href="">murals</a>. Check out his <a href="">Instagram</a> feed for some examples.</p> <p>Mariano is an artist who brings a meticulous and thoughtful approach to our design workflow. We're excited to see his work begin to influence our projects.</p> <p>Say hello to Mariano on <a href="">Twitter</a> or <a href="">Github</a>.</p> 2015-02-19T11:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Open Data Day Garage Party <p>We love open data. And we love to talk about it over drinks with other open data lovers. Next Friday, February 20th at 7:00pm we are hosting an <a href="">Open Data Day celebration</a> in the Mapbox Garage. Head over to the Garage after the first day of <a href="">Open Data Day DC</a> to talk about open tools for open data.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p>Even if you can't make it to Open Data Day DC (or didn't grab a spot on the now closed list), come over and share the #opendatalove.</p> <p>Let us know if you're in by <a href="">RSVPing now</a>.</p> 2015-02-13T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Data Hungry Happy Hour <p>We'll be at the <a href="">Thought For Food Global Summit</a> next week working with some brilliant people on the biggest challenges in agriculture and feeding the hungry. Look for <a href="">Olaf</a> at the Summit.</p> <p>If you are in Lisbon for the Summit, please join us for a <a href="">Data Hungry happy hour</a> on Thursday evening. We'll be geeking out on better data, satellites, and sensors can contribute to better food policy. The Happy Hour kicks off at 18.30 in Fabulas in the center of Lisbon. The first couple of rounds are on us. You can <a href="">RSVP here</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="Data Hungry Happy Hour" /></a></p> 2015-02-06T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Announcing Libra - the Landsat imagery browser you will love <p>We've been <a href="">working with Astro Digital</a> to produce <a href="">the most usable imagery browser</a>. Today we are releasing <a href="">Libra</a>, a fork of the Astro Digital browser for open Landsat data. Libra allows you to browse, sort, and download more than 275 Terabytes of open Landsat imagery as easily as booking an Uber.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="libra" /></a></p> <h3>Liberating Landsat</h3> <p>We love open imagery. The global development organizations and developing governments that we work with use open satellite imagery for everything from evaluating disaster response, to tracking deforestation, to planning for drought. For our partners, open imagery isn't just a matter of cost; it is a matter of licensing and distribution. They get immediate access to Landsat images and can analyze, manipulate, and distribute with almost no restrictions.</p> <p>To make Landsat data more useful, we've made it easier to use. We built two open source tools for working with Landsat data - <a href="">Landsat-util</a> and <a href="">Landsat API</a>. It used to take all day for Development Seed's imagery specialists to turn Landsat data into imagery layers for online maps. With these two tools, any developer can do it in a matter of minutes.</p> <p>These tools gave us a huge head start in building Libra. Libra relies heavily on Landsat API to quickly query by date, geography, and cloud cover and get image URLs, scene centroids, scene boundaries, and other metadata. Using Landsat API as a backbone of Libra also encouraged us to make improvements and configuration changes on Landsat API such as changing the limits on requests and returned data and some error handling.</p> <p>Have a look at <a href="">Libra</a> and hit us with your feedback <a href="">@developmentseed</a>.</p> <p><em>Feb 16 2015: We've updated this post to reflect the Dauria Geo name change to Astro Digital.</em></p> 2015-01-22T18:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Introducing Development Seed Lisbon <p>Last week we announced the opening of <a href="">Development Seed Lisbon</a>. To kickstart our operations in Europe, we brought on our friends from Flipside, an experienced team working on meaningful open data projects for organizations around Europe. This move allows us to connect with partners and talent in the region, and also deliver quality work right out of the gate.</p> <h2>Olaf Veerman</h2> <p>Olaf will lead the Lisbon office, run projects, and help us establish a strong presence in Europe. He lived for many years in Latin America, working with small business networks, cooperatives and small farmer groups in Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela. His experience in working with civil society organizatons around the world allows him to quickly understand our partners' needs and help them use technology to increase their social and economic impact.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>You can connect with Olaf through <a href="">Twitter</a>.</p> <h2>Daniel da Silva</h2> <p>Daniel brings solid engineering skills that he applies to anything from building light-weight frontends with well structured APIs, to deploying tools for offline/online data collection. He is a quick learner and problem solver whose technology expertise spans PHP, Node, Angular, Jekyll and Mongodb. Daniel is going to help us pick the right tool for the job and deliver quality work to our partners.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Find Daniel on <a href="">Github</a>.</p> <h2>Ricardo Mestre</h2> <p>Ricardo is a talented designer and front-end developer who pushes how modern technologies can be used to craft usable and engaging websites. He worked for some of the biggest companies in Portugal, but is most passionate about free culture and equality, which he contributes to through his music, art and <a href="">other projects</a>. Ricardo is going have a big impact on the design and usability of our work.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>You can find Ricardo on <a href="">Twitter</a>.</p> 2015-01-20T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Building a Better Satellite Imagery Browser <p>Satellite imagery companies spend billions of dollars acquiring pictures of the planet. However, anyone who has worked with that imagery knows that the tools for searching and accessing this imagery are painful to work with. That's why we are excited to be working with <a href="">Astro Digital</a> to build a fast, easy, imagery browser. To do that, we are relentlessly reducing friction and creating something that feels more like Airbnb or Pinterest than traditional GIS-based imagery browsers.</p> <p>Astro Digital's strategy is built on <a href="">making imagery easy to integrate across every industry</a>. Here is how we worked with them to bring usability to image browsing:</p> <h3>Discover</h3> <p>A primary goal is to eliminate the steps required to start looking at imagery. Astro Digital discussed the "<a href="">bounding box problem</a>" -- traditional imagery browsers require you to provide a bounding box to start a search. The user either has to outline a polygon or upload a file with the bounding box. If the bounding box is too big or returns too many results these sites often require you to start over.</p> <p>Our solution? Just zoom.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="just-zoom" /></a></p> <p>We will explore options for advanced search that may include boundary uploads, and those interactions will follow the same simple design concepts foundational to a good user experience. As we add those features, we will preserve the ability of users to immediately start interacting in a manner they expect from a modern website.</p> <h3>Responsive filter and sort</h3> <p>Once the user has identified their area of interest, the next step is sifting through all the returned images to find the best one for their needs. We've made this easier through visual filters and sorting tools that help you quickly get to the best image. Familiar icons allow users to filter and sort without having to learn the interface. We included visual tools like a histogram on our filters to help users intuitively understand the implications of their filtering choices. Sorting assumes "best to worst" to make sorting easy and to surface the best images. All along, we provide thumbnail previews of each image so that you can immediately see what you are getting.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="filter-sort" /></a></p> <h3>Making the interactions obvious</h3> <p>Our aim is to create interactions that seem natural without the need for a website tour. Moving around the map shows coverage areas. Selecting an area filters results to that geography. We benefited here by using Landsat imagery that has a consistent bounding area, but we believe we can keep this intuitive even with different shaped scenes. To keep user interaction from breaking, we did a lot of work under the hood to make the site fast and responsive even while loading a lot of data and images. With a streamlined request process, once you've found the right image, you can download or purchase in one click.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="obvious-ui" /></a></p> <p>We were able to quickly stand up a fast mapping application by building off the <a href="">Mapbox</a> stack. Simple, intuitive tools make it easier for more sectors to benefit from satellite imagery. As we help global development organizations and emerging economies to use imagery products, usable tools will be critical. We think existing imagery users will also appreciate having a more enjoyable relationship with their imagery finder.</p> <p><em>Feb 16 2015: We've updated this post to reflect the Dauria Geo name change to Astro Digital.</em></p> 2015-01-15T11:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Development Seed opens office in Lisbon <p>Development Seed is opening an office in Lisbon. Our team grows by a continent today in beautiful Portugal where we will continue to build data tools and solve complex development challenges. Establishing an office in Europe puts us closer to our partners in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. It will also allow us to better connect to the talented open data hacker movement in the region.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>To bootstrap our European team we are immediately bringing on all our talented friends at Flipside. The Flipside team have been doing fantastic work on projects ranging from opening data on clean energy, building mobile monitoring tools with Text To Change, and tracking forest fires around Portugal. The entire team joins Development Seed today. Olaf Veerman from Flipside will lead the Portugal office and help us to grow the team.</p> <p>If you are in Lisbon, come and celebrate with us tonight at our <a href="">Open Data Happy Hour</a>.</p> 2015-01-15T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Open Data Happy Hour in Lisbon <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p>Next week we'll be in Lisbon where we're hosting an <a href="">Open Data Happy Hour</a> with our friends from <a href="">Flipside</a>. If you're in the neighborhood and want to talk Open Data, know more about our satellite imagery work, or geek out on sensors, make sure to drop by and have a drink with us.</p> <p>The Happy Hour will be hosted at <a href="">Liberdade 229</a> and start around 19:00. We hope to see you there. <a href="">RSVP here</a>.</p> 2015-01-09T11:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Welcome Joe Flasher <p><a href="">Joe Flasher</a> is joining Development Seed to help us run faster and to broaden our technology stack. Whether he's launching Delta II rockets, growing the open data community in Mongolia, or connecting an arcade claw game to a Facebook app, Joe is always looking for better ways to bend technology to solve real problems. He is constantly seeking the solution that is more elegant, more practical, and more human.</p> <p>Joe is the perfect person to help Development Seed grow and explore. He's going push us to build better products and to make bigger open source contributions across satellite imagery, sensors, drones, and devices.</p> <p>Give Joe a holler on <a href="">Twitter</a> or <a href="">Github</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> 2015-01-08T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed 2014 Web Index measures the Internet's openness and impact <p>The World Wide Web Foundation released their <a href="">2014 Web Index</a>, an annual accounting of how the internet has changed the economic, political, and social lives of citizens across every continent.</p> <p>This is an ambitious and complicated story. The impact of the internet on the 84 countries in the 2014 report is difficult to isolate from culture, politics, and economics. Ultimately, the report found that open and inclusive internet correlate to equitable societies. The report is rich with data and worth reading <a href="">in full</a>.</p> <h4>Visualizing liquid data</h4> <p>Making useful and appropriate comparisons between 84 countries is hard. To create the Web Index, the Web Foundation pulled a range of primary and secondary data into normalized indicators, which together comprise the index. The report, produced online in collaboration with <a href="">WESO</a>, gives a global overview in addition to nuanced subviews on topics such as internet censorship and gender equality.</p> <p>When we first began collaborating with Web Foundation to visualize this information, they were in the process of collecting and interpreting their data. They had identified key themes that they knew would be important: economic equality, neutrality, censorship and surveillance, and gender-based violence, among others.</p> <p>Using these leads, we dived into the preliminary results in search of effective, telling visuals. Quick feedback loops and frequent communication with research specialists at Web Foundation helped us to build better visuals. It also helped Web Foundation better understand their data and how to communicate it.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <h4>Comparing Countries</h4> <p>We ran up against the challenge of showing 84 countries in interesting ways, while doing justice to the data. Although the data is country-level, not every story lends itself to a map. In our visuals, we use flags, bubbles, and names to indicate countries.</p> <p>In plotting gender-based violence, we ran into the problem of page size. The graph examines countries with stark differences in how they support victims of online gender-based violence, and how frequently they prosecute perpetrators of that violence. Each graphic had to be single page and embeddable. To make this fit, we used a <a href="">fisheye</a> effect that moves with your cursor.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <h3>Open Data about the open Internet</h3> <p>The Web Index is fully open. You can download <a href="">all of the data here</a>. The Web Foundation and WESO built an open API with data from this year and previous years. The code for <a href="">their site</a> and <a href="">our four visualizations</a> are open as well.</p> 2014-12-12T01:00:00+00:00 Development Seed A Home for Open Housing Data <p>The housing crisis deeply impacted millions of Americans, and today the <a href="">effects are still being felt</a>. For the many problems facing communities, from wage disparity to affordable housing, there isn't a single fits-all solution.</p> <p>That's why we are very excited about the work that <a href="">Woodstock Foundation</a> is doing to support fair housing policies. Today they launch a nuanced look at housing and income disparity in Illinois in the form of a new <a href="">map-based open data website</a>.</p> <p>The site brings together 74 datasets on the well-being of local communities. It is a good roadmap for anyone working in housing justice in Illinois. Community organizations can explore <a href="">the average amount of mortgage debt people take on</a> and the rate of foreclosure filings in <a href="">the Chicago six-county region</a> and <a href="">elsewhere in Illinois</a> to inform their decisions on where to focus their work. Some <a href="">data sets go back to 2008</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="high-income" /> <em>Where the highest income census tracts are in the Chicago six-county region</em></p> <h3>Serving complex data through static JSON</h3> <p>Housing data is complex, and Woodstock has gathered some amazingly granular statistics about housing data in Illinois. Splitting this data into a format that we could serve over the web proved a difficult challenge. Woodstock is also a small nonprofit, and we wanted to ease as much as possible the burden of maintaining a complicated website.</p> <p>So we wrote a python library to break up their spreadsheets into <a href="">JSON</a>. Every time you switch to a new facet of housing data, every time you view a different year or category of that data, your browser incrementally downloads a new JSON file. Although those files in aggregate would take ages to load, individually they are manageable. Those scripts, along with the rest of the site, are <a href="">open-source</a>.</p> <p>To further reduce load times, we use the <a href="">topojson</a> spec to reduce the size of geographic boundary data. This allows us to separate geographic data from numerical data, so you only download those complex census tract boundaries once. The code that runs in your browser than re-connects those boundaries to the housing or mortgage data you select on the fly.</p> <p>Using vector-based geographical boundaries has other benefits. It allowed us to use a mouse click on an overlaying geographic boundary and a <a href="">point-in-polygon</a> test to find, for example, which congressional representative is responsible for which census tract.</p> <p><img src="" alt="collision-detection" /> <em>Detecting congressional boundaries</em></p> <h3>Census tracts over multiple years</h3> <p>Census tracts change a lot over census years, and this can be a problem when mapping a multi-year data set that covers more than a single census geography file. Attempting to compare the data between those years that use different tract definitions can be tricky. Tract ID, or FIPS codes can either refer to a different neighborhood or disappear entirely.</p> <p>The Census releases <a href="">relationship files</a> that show where these changes and additions occur. Using this, we created a tool that overlays 2000 and 2010 census tracts, and <a href="">shows differences between the two years</a>.</p> <p>Currently the project covers only Illinois, but the code is available on <a href="">GitHub</a> and ready for you to fork and contribute your own state.</p> 2014-11-17T12:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Join us at EcoHack this weekend <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie</em></p> <p>To address climate change and promote environmental justice, we need better tools to understand our changing planet. That's why we are delighted to help host the <a href="">DC EcoHack</a> with <a href="">WRI</a> at the Mapbox Garage.</p> <p>EcoHack is an event to bring together a diverse community of scientists, hackers, designers and others who want to tell stories and create tools to protect our environment. The event is open to people of all skill levels. As long you're interested in using technology to improve and better understand our natural environment, we'd love to see you there.</p> <p>If you're in DC, <a href="">register</a> and come join us at the <a href="">MapBox</a> Garage in DC. Our friends at Mapbox are also hosting the <a href="">San Francisco EcoHack</a> and EcoHacks will also take place in Sydney, Cambridge, New York, and Madrid.</p> <p><a href="">Drew</a> and <a href="">Marc</a> will be using some of the time to work on <a href="">landsat-util</a>, an open source tool that makes it easier to work with open satellite imagery. We are also keen to help on projects using <a href="">green energy investment data</a> and <a href="">tracking natural disasters</a>.</p> <p>Hope to see you there!</p> 2014-11-13T14:00:00+00:00 Development Seed International Conference of Crisis Mappers storms NYC <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Satellite imagery over Monrovia, an area that has seen a significant burden of Ebola cases.</em></p> <p>Today, <a href="">Marc</a> and I are heading up to New York to attend the <a href="">International Conference of Crisis Mappers</a>. Open crisis mapping is growing up. We are seeing greater demand for maps and data for crisis response and preparation. ICCM 2014 will be an important place to discuss how we can grow to handle this need, how we better generate real collaboration from data, and how we build infrastructure that is usable and inclusive.</p> <p>We're looking forward to talking about OpenStreetMap, satellites, and open data; topics that are critical in the midst of the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Reach out to <a href="">@nas_smith</a> or <a href="">@kamicut</a> on Twitter if you want to chat.</p> 2014-11-06T14:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Getting to vote <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> <div id="_vit"></div> <script type="text/javascript">vit.load({officialOnly:false});</script> <p><em>Working embed. US voters, find your polling location</em></p> <p>In the US, and around the world, it can be confusing figuring out where you should vote and which races you are eligible to vote on. In the US, going to the wrong polling station is a hassle. This hassle can be prohibitive, particularly if you are disabled or rely on public transportation. In countries coming out of conflict, going to the polling station can be a brave and risky act. You'd better be at the right place when you get there.</p> <p>Open data is helping to get voters the information they need to participate. By opening up data about voting locations and process, States can involve private actors, such as <a href="">The Pew Trusts</a> and Google, as partners providing accurate information about where to vote. The <a href="">VIP (Voter Information Project)</a> is an embeddable tool, based on an <a href="">open source</a> stack, that relies on an <a href="">open API</a>. This allows other groups to repackage and distribute this information to their audiences.</p> <p>By opening up the data, States are no longer solely responsible for getting voters to the right polling place. Voters should be tripping over this information in every Google search, Foursquare check-in, community message board, and favorite blogs.</p> <p><img src="" alt="voting demonstration" /> <em>"Usability and Voting" by <a href="">ericgundersen</a></em></p> 2014-11-04T14:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Hey there, designers. <p>At Development Seed, design is not about pushing pixels or passing a perfect mockup to the next person. It is about truly understanding — and sometimes defining — a problem, working out a systemic solution with visual and interactive components. You will be brainstorming solutions with our strategists and turning them into sketches, websites, and data visualizations with fellow developers.</p> <p>We build new ways to help people make decisions — impacting policies and creating transparency on all levels. We are hiring a designer who is a doer and a thinker, eager to join our mission.</p> <h3>You are:</h3> <ul> <li>an artist; you have a favorite medium to express your ideas, be it ink, paint, vector or gif</li> <li>excited about the web, particularly how the representation of information on screens can inform people’s decisions</li> <li>eager to work with data and the patterns it leads to</li> <li>curious and hungry to learn new subjects and skills</li> </ul> <h3>You know how to:</h3> <ul> <li>ask good questions and get to the heart of a problem</li> <li>illustrate abstract concepts and workflows in visual forms</li> <li>use the right font and color at the right time, knowing that aesthetics is derived from your communication goal, the information, and the medium</li> </ul> <h3>Experiences with any of the following will be a plus:</h3> <ul> <li>Web maps (such as a map made with MapBox Studio)</li> <li>Responsive web frameworks</li> <li>Git</li> <li>D3.js for visualization (bar chart counts)</li> <li>Static site generation (Jekyll, Flask, etc)</li> <li>SASS</li> </ul> <p>But don't let any of that scare you. If your design chops are good, we will work with you to tech up on everything you need to know.</p> <h3>To apply:</h3> <p>Please send your portfolio site, and links to three projects, to with “Designer” in your subject.</p> 2014-11-02T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Astro Digital completing new design specs <p><a href="">Astro Digital</a> is just completing new design specs for their Perseus satellite constellations. Perseus-O, a constellation of 8 satellites, will provide daily global coverage of all arable land at 22 meters resolution (meaning each pixel represents 22 meters on the ground). With the same spectral bands as Landsat this new imagery will be able to measure <a href="">crop health</a> and <a href="">flooding</a>. The Perseus-HD constellation of 20 satellites will provide daily images of all urban and arable land at 2.5 meters resolution -- showing roads, buildings, ships, and fields.</p> <p>In addition to having their own satellites, Astro Digital will make Landsat and MODIS open data sources accessible through their API. They have established partnerships with industry leaders like Deimos in Spain, EIAST in Dubai, and Eye Innovation in China to provide a variety of resolution, coverage, sensor, and freshness of imagery, offering a unique balance between resolution and timely revisit. This is super exciting for our team as we work to expand where we source imagery for NGOs <a href="">to process in their pipelines</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="brazil deforestation" /></p> <p>The new technical specs mean Astro Digital moves into the next build phase, and is on target to begin launching the Perseus constellation in 2015. We're collaborating with Astro Digital now as they build out integration and visualization tools -- from antenna to API, that makes image acquisition, analysis, delivery, and integration easier for both NGOs and enterprise. Astro Digital is building an API to empower developers to access fresh and historical imagery, compute needed data layers on the cloud, and harvest data in ready-to-use format. Their cloud platform can do heavy analysis and feed data directly into applications. By directly integrating with the <a href="">Mapbox API</a>, we can quickly deploy sophisticated and beautiful applications from agriculture to disaster response using the platforms that developers are already building on.</p> <p><img src="" alt="astro satellites" /></p> <p>We'd love to see more satellite providers compete on ease of integrating their data. We'll be helping Astro Digital to review their API to make it developer friendly and we will build open source tools on top Astro Digital's API. These tools will serve as open templates for integrating Astro Digital with tools like Mapbox to quickly build powerful, data-rich sites. This is really positive move for the industry and for users.</p> <p><em>Feb 16 2015 We've updated this post to reflect the Dauria Geo name change to Astro Digital.</em></p> 2014-10-30T12:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Marhaba Marc Farra <p><a href="">Marc Farra</a> has joined the Development Seed team. Marc loves to experiment with image processing, arduino sensors, and data infrastructure. He is going to help us explore new ways to collect and process data.</p> <p>I first ran into Marc in Beirut. At the time he was running Lamba Labs, a hacker space in Beirut that was sowing the seeds of Maker culture and open data advocacy in Lebanon. A year later, he took the Afghanistan polling station locations we <a href="">posted on Github</a> and started to build <a href="">a mobile app for Afghans to locate their nearest polling station</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Say "Hello", "Salut", or "Marhaba" to Marc on <a href="">Twitter</a> and <a href="">Github</a>.</p> 2014-10-28T15:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Getting Green into Green Energy <p>Reversing climate change means investing in green energy, and as the sustainable sector grows, ensuring it grows in both developing and developed countries. Today the <a href="">Fondo Multilateral de Inversiones</a> and <a href="">Bloomberg New Energy Finance</a> are launching a vastly expanded <a href="">Climatescope</a>, to provide open data about green energy investment in 55 countries. The data provided by Climatescope creates an information-rich environment for green energy investors. It also provides valuable data on clean energy policies for activists and policymakers.</p> <p><img src="" alt="climatescope" /></p> <h3>Opening Climate Investment Data</h3> <p>We worked on the Climatescope website with <a href="">Flipside</a>, a smart, new open source technology shop based in Lisbon.</p> <p>The site takes a very thoughtful approach to opening information. All the data powering the Climatescope site is available through an open API, which you can easily integrate into your own applications. The <a href="">full dataset</a> is also available for analysis. On almost every page lives a download button that provides a CSV file containing whatever you happen to be viewing.</p> <p>Most importantly, FOMIN got the licensing right. The data is licensed <a href="">CC-BY</a>. It can be used (with attribution) by anyone, even for commercial purposes. This is critical when you want data to encourage commercial activity. Moreover the <em><a href="">website itself</a></em> is also open and is licensed GPL 3.0. The entire site can be forked by other open source projects.</p> <h3>Dynamic Static Websites</h3> <p>Like many of the sites we (and Flipside) build these days, Climatescope is a fully interactive site without a database or a heavy CMS. Climatescope users can manipulate, interrogate, and download the data on any device and in low bandwidth requirements. The site uses Jekyll, Angular, and D3 (among <a href="">other tools</a>) and is hosted on Github. <a href="">Read more on our approach to CMS-free websites</a>.</p> <h3>Customized weighting</h3> <p>People have different priorities when evaluating the environment for clean energy. The site is designed for a range of users, from activists to journalists, politicians, environmentalists, and the curious. FOMIN is committed to giving Climatescope users full control over how much weight each metric carries. To accomodate this, we built simple, intuitive sliders. Movement in one slider spreads the difference evenly across the other three factors. You can lock any slider to make it easier to hit an exact breakdown.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <h3>Hacking for the Planet</h3> <p>Have some data or coding skills? Care about the planet? Consider joining an <a href="">EcoHack</a> near you on Nov 15-16. We are hosting <a href="">the DC EcoHack</a> with <a href="">WRI</a>. EcoHacks are also happening in Sydney, Cambridge, New York, Madrid, and San Francisco.</p> 2014-10-28T13:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Howdy Dan McCarey <p><a href="">Dan McCarey</a> has joined Development Seed. Dan is going to help us to turn complex data into compelling stories. Dan is an information designer and web developer. He <a href="">builds</a> <a href="">powerful</a> <a href="">websites</a>. Dan is passionate about leaving the world better than he found it. That passion has drawn him to live and work in Nepal and Sudan.</p> <p><img src="" alt="dan" /></p> <p>Dan created the interactive "Mapping Cholera: A Tale of Two Cities", which <a href="">recently appeared in Scientific American</a>. This stunning interactive uses historical data and maps to track the spread of cholera in New York in 1832 and compares that to the spread of cholera in Haiti today.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="choleramap" /></a></p> <p>Follow Dan on <a href="">Twitter</a> and <a href="">Github</a>.</p> 2014-10-27T17:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Giving context to open spending data <p>Yesterday the government of Mexico launched <a href=""></a> to open up government data across all ministries. We <a href="">built a mapping tool</a> for ministries to quickly build rich maps from data on the site. The tool also makes it easier to combine government data with other open datasets. This provides context and meaning to complex government data.</p> <p>The first dataset that we mapped was all <a href="">2013 funds for disaster response and reconstruction</a>. The map plots thousands of reconstruction projects across 45 natural disasters, including Hurricane Manual and Ingrid which affected two-thirds of Mexico, killing 192 people and causing $75 billion pesos in damage.</p> <p>This is an incredibily rich and complex dataset. But this data alone is not particularly helpful. We need to better understand the context to understand why government invested funds the way that it did, evaluate the effectiveness of these investments, and plan for future events.</p> <p>To help understand the context we pulled open satellite data from the days following Hurricane Ingrid to better understand the extend of flooding caused by the Hurricane. We used landsat-util to download the data, and produced a <a href="">false color composite</a> to highlight water.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt=""></a></p> <p>The <a href="">resulting map</a> shows reconstruction projects in the context of the flooding.</p> <p>View the government of Mexico's <a href="">map building tool on github</a>. We used landsat-util to get the imagery and processed it with <a href="">this script</a>.</p> 2014-10-02T15:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Thanks for Having Us, ONA <p>This past weekend Jue and I presented at the <a href="">Online News Association Conference</a> in Chicago. We <a href="">shared what we've learned</a> from creating mapping sites that toggle through a high volume of data: specifically, how we mapped tens of thousands of rows of data on a series of maps using a mostly-front-end stack.</p> <p>We built this data browser with <a href="">Backbone</a> and <a href="">Leaflet</a>. Given the amount of data, we incorportated data binding and drawing methods from <a href="">D3.js</a> on top of Leaflet to boost the loading and interaction speed of the site. By writing python code to output configuration and data json files, we made the site modular. We customized all the geography files into efficient topojson -- some with necessary simplications to control file size, and others with customized data field to be joined with the rest of datasets in the front-end. From this experience we learned:</p> <ul> <li><strong>The good</strong>: we made a site that is hosted on Github. Even though the site handles tons of data, it will rarely go down. Topojson makes geography in the browser faster than ever.</li> <li><strong>The crazy</strong>: we spent a lot of brain cells preparing the data and its metadata in python, in order to unload the javascript from heavy calculations.</li> </ul> <p>Like other problems we encounter at Development Seed, we try to tailor our approach using the most fitting technology. We are constantly assessing our tech stacks, which prepares us for challenges that come in all shapes and sizes. Although we've managed the complexity of this project well, we are also excited about geographic databases such as <a href="">PostGIS</a>, which we may plug in the next time we come across a project of this size.</p> <p>I also did a hands-on session about designing maps using d3 and topojson. We provided several examples to help those starting to learn this workflow. You can <a href="">find the talk here</a>. We've found this workflow to be valuable, since it allows us to serve complex sites as static files. This is consistent with our approach to <a href="">building interactive CMS-Free sites</a>.</p> <p>We hope you find our presentations useful. Let us know if you have questions or comments.</p> 2014-10-02T11:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Major Open Data Push by the Mexican Government <p>The Mexican Government is investing heavily in open data to directly make government more effective and the country more productive. Today, kicking off the <a href="">regonal open data gathering in Latin America - ConDatos</a>, the Government of Mexico presented <a href=""></a> a massive data portal with open public data from across the Government.</p> <p><img src="" alt="datos gob mx" /></p> <p>Data must be accessible to be useful in driving innovation and participation. addresses accesibility in two ways. First, all data is machine-readable and searchable, and so is the metadata about those datasets. A <a href="">CKAN data portal</a> provides data in bulk download and via an API. Second, put a heavy emphasis on stories and tools that turn raw data into insight. Storytelling tools make the data immediately accessible and understandable to both citizens and policymakers.</p> <h3>Mapping open data</h3> <p>We worked with the Office of the President of Mexico to build a mapping tool that integrates directly with to provide rich storytelling ability. The President's Office worked with the Civil Protection Service to map all 2013 funds for disaster response and reconstruction. The map plots thousands of reconstruction projects across 45 natural disasters, including Hurricane Manual and Ingrid which affected two-thirds of Mexico, killing 192 people and causing $75 billion pesos in damage.</p> <p><img src="" alt="datos gob mx fondo de desastres naturales 2013 7" /></p> <p>The mapping tool allows ministries to quickly stand up a rich interactive map off of any dataset on through a single page of markdown. The map generation tool anticipates many of the way in which ministires will want to aggregate and display information, while also making it easy for advanced users to develop more sophisticated visualizations.</p> <p>We leaned on Jekyll for the map templating ability and mapbox for base layers. Datasets are pulled in over the CKAN API and rendered in real time. All the code for the map generation tool is open source, on github, and available to other governments interested in mapping open data.</p> 2014-10-01T15:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Development in the Time of Climate Change <p>International development is getting harder. Climate change, population strains, and conflict over resources <a href="">threaten to undo</a> many of the gains made toward the Millenium Development goals. Doing development right means looking outside of country and sector silos and looking to the bigger picture. Today Secretary Kerry announced the launch of the <a href="">Global Resilience Partnership</a>, a new partnership to address climate and population change through more coordinated and smarter action.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Achieving the vision of the Global Resilience Partnership will require fluid, fast, and open information that supports coordination and decsionmaking. We are proud to be working with the Global Resilience Partnership on building a data and technology infrastructure to support new ways of addressing global stresses and shocks. Whether it is building tools that connect food security workers with conflict mitigation experts, <a href="">analyzing and opening satellite imagery after a flood</a>, or helping municipal governments analyze complex data sets, Development Seed is excited to be part of a powerful approach to solving global challenges, forged on openess and collaboration.</p> <p>The first part this effort will be a global collaborative design challenge. <a href="">Check out the site</a> for more information on the Global Resilience Challenge. If you prefer viewing the source, you can find <a href="">all the code on GitHub</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>Photo credit: Melissa Hough</em></p> 2014-09-19T14:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Flood Monitoring with Satellites <p>Last week monsoon rainfall caused <a href="">flooding in areas across India and Pakistan</a>. <a href="">Srinagar</a> experienced severe flooding and relief efforts are now underway. Satellite imagery offers a first response look at the flooded area and shows when flood lines increase or receed.</p> <p>We <a href="">recently released landsat-util</a>, a tool for easily processing open Landsat imagery. Using landsat-util and some additional processing we can quickly process imagery to view flood extent from above.</p> <iframe width="100%" height="500px" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe> <p><em>Swipe between August 25 and September 10 Landsat images for a quick first glance at the geographic extent of the flood. <a href=",devseed.SrinagarBeforeTC&amp;,devseed.Srinagar#10/34.0407/74.7070">View larger</a></em></p> <p>We used <a href="">Landsat-util</a> to identify, download, and process Landsat imagery before and immediately after the floods. (The left image is Scene LC81490362014237LGN00 from August 25, 2014. The right image is Scene LC81490362014253LGN00 from September 10, 2014.)</p> <p>With additional processing we can get a clearer view of the floodlines. Water reflects infrared light diffirently than land. We can use this to clearly distinguish muddy water from muddy land. Working from the images we just downloaded, we created a false color composite by combining different near-infrared and mid-infrared bands (also known as a 5,6,4 band composite). The processed image clearly highlights flood lines.</p> <iframe width="100%" height="500px" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe> <p><em>A 5,6,4 false color image clearly distinguishes waters from land to derive a flood line. <a href=",devseed.SrinagarFCBefore&amp;,devseed.SrinagarAfterFC#10/34.0407/74.7070">View larger</a></em></p> <p><strong>First response</strong></p> <p>Timely response is vital in disaster scenarios. When ground information is limited, satellite imagery can provide first responders with a clear picture of an area. With landsat-util we hope to make landsat imagery accessable to more organizations. For more on image processing, see <a href="">this great tutorial</a> by the Mapbox satellite team and view the code for the false color comparison <a href="">here</a>.</p> 2014-09-15T14:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Power tools for Satellite Imagery <p>Our love affair with Landsat <a href="">is</a> <a href="">well</a> <a href="">documented</a>. Today we are sharing the Landsat love with <a href="">landsat-util</a>, a command line utility that makes it easy to search, download, and process Landsat imagery. We hope these tools help NGOs, small government agencies, and researchers to benefit from open satellite data.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The Landsat Program has provided continuous imagery of the earth to the public since 1972. The newest Landsat satellite, Landsat-8, has sophisticated sensors like thermal infrared, which we use to <a href="">detect fires</a>, and near infrared, which we use to <a href="">measure vegetation health</a>. Landsat-8 has collected nearly two petabytes of open imagery data. This is an incredibly powerful data source for NGOs, researchers, municipal governments, and government agencies in developing countries. It is useful for everything from urban planning to detecting the effects of climate change.</p> <p>Landsat data is still difficult and time consuming to work with. The same NGOs and small government agencies that stand to benefit most from Landsat data often lack the specialized technical expertise to process it. Over the past few months we've built tools to automate our own work with satellite imagery. It once took us all day to collect, georeference, composite, color correct, and pan-sharpen imagery. Now, we can do it in a matter of minutes. We've packaged our processing scripts into a command line utility. <a href="">Landsat-util</a> makes it easier for other developers and organizations to work with open satellite imagery.</p> <p>Landsat-util does three things well: - It searches loads of Landsat metadata, - It makes downloading easier, - It processes the data, with natural color-correction and pansharpening, and gets it ready for use in Mapbox Studio or your tool of choice.</p> <h3>Searching</h3> <p>Using our <a href="">landsat-api</a>, you can search all Landsat-8 metadata and find the images you are looking for. You can limit your search to specific date ranges, filter by cloud coverage, and look within specific rows and paths.</p> <p>Landsat-util also makes it easier to find the imagery for a specific area. You can point it to a local shapefile and landsat-util selects all images that cover your shapefile. If you give a country, landsat-util selects all images that cover that country.</p> <h3>Downloading</h3> <p>Landsat-util uses imagery from Google Storage to download results faster than <a href="">USGS Earth Explorer</a>. Google, in partnership with USGS and NASA, stores Landsat imagery on its <a href="">Google Earth Engine</a> servers and offers them to the public for free. Landsat-util automatically downloads all of the SceneIDs that fit your search.</p> <h3>Processing</h3> <p>Landsat-util can do much of the processing required to make Landsat images useful in your project. It generates natural color images that are ready to be used on mapping tools such as TileMill and Mapbox Studio. All images are adjusted for quality, color, and contrast, and have incredible details (pansharpening increases pixel resolution 2x). They are WGS84 Web-Mercator (EPSG: 3857) georeferenced and can easily be added as a layer to web-based maps.</p> <h3>The power of the command line</h3> <p>If you know exactly what you are looking for you can search, download, color-correct, and pansharpen all with one command.</p> <pre><code>landsat search --download --imageprocess --pansharpen --cloud 4 --start "january 1 2014" --end "january 10 2014" pr 009 045 </code></pre> <iframe width="100%" height="600px" frameBorder="0" src=",devseed.TCI.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZGV2c2VlZCIsImEiOiJnUi1mbkVvIn0.018aLhX0Mb0tdtaT2QNe2Q#10/21.606/-71.959"></iframe> <p><em><a href=",devseed.TCI.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZGV2c2VlZCIsImEiOiJnUi1mbkVvIn0.018aLhX0Mb0tdtaT2QNe2Q#10/21.606/-71.959">Turks &amp; Caicos Islands, British West Indies</a></em></p> <p>You can preview images before you download. Search commands provide a link to a thumbnail for each image.</p> <pre><code>landsat search --cloud 4 --start "August 1 2013" --end "August 25 2014" country 'Vatican' </code></pre> <p>Using the <code>--pansharpen</code> flag will take longer to process but will produce clearer images.</p> <pre><code>landsat search --download --imageprocess --pansharpen --cloud 4 --start "august 11 2013" --end "august 13 2013" pr 191 031 </code></pre> <iframe width="100%" height="600px" frameBorder="0" src=",devseed.raster_pan&,devseed.Rome_no_pan#13/41.8304/12.4717"></iframe> <p><em><a href=",devseed.raster_pan&amp;,devseed.Rome_no_pan#13/41.8304/12.4717">Vatican/Rome, Italy - slide between images to check out pansharpening in action</a></em></p> <p>You can also perform all processing on images that you previously downloaded.</p> <pre><code>landsat download LC81050682014217LGN00 landsat process --pansharpen /your/path/ </code></pre> <iframe width="100%" height="600px" frameBorder="0" src=",devseed.gurig_national_park.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZGV2c2VlZCIsImEiOiJnUi1mbkVvIn0.018aLhX0Mb0tdtaT2QNe2Q#9/-11.6078/132.2328"></iframe> <p><em><a href=",devseed.gurig_national_park.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZGV2c2VlZCIsImEiOiJnUi1mbkVvIn0.018aLhX0Mb0tdtaT2QNe2Q#9/-11.6078/132.2328">Gurig National Park, Australia</a></em></p> <pre><code>landsat download LC82310622014187LGN00 landsat process --pansharpen your/path/landsat/zip/ </code></pre> <iframe width="100%" height="600px" frameBorder="0" src=",devseed.manaus.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZGV2c2VlZCIsImEiOiJnUi1mbkVvIn0.018aLhX0Mb0tdtaT2QNe2Q#10/-3.071/-60.316"></iframe> <p><em><a href=",devseed.manaus.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZGV2c2VlZCIsImEiOiJnUi1mbkVvIn0.018aLhX0Mb0tdtaT2QNe2Q#10/-3.071/-60.316">Manaus, Brazil</a></em></p> <p>For more possibilities, <a href="">check out the documentation.</a></p> <h3>Limitations</h3> <p>Landsat-util uses a number of image processing tools that are very powerful but also very resource hungry. The image processing functions consume a good amount of memory (RAM) and it might not work on computers that have less than 6GB of ram. Using landsat-util also requires some other applications and libraries such as GDAL, ImageMagick and Orfeo Toolbox.</p> <p>Mac users can install landsat-util and all dependencies through a simple brew command. We have provided a walkthrough for Ubuntu users. For other systems we provide a list of required dependencies.</p> <h3>Open Source</h3> <p>Landsat-util helps us in our own satellite imagery work and we believe could help others run smarter, faster and better analysis and research using satellite products. Let us know what you think and contribute to the repo.</p> 2014-08-29T16:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Exploring space faster <p>Exploring events from space is going to get a little easier. Below is a sneak peek of a simple and smart utility we're working on to save ourselves some time searching, downloading, and processing Landsat imagery.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Turks &amp; Caicos (path: 09, row: 045, id: <a href="">LC80090452014008LGN00</a>)</em></p> <p>We regularly use satellite imagery to better understand global events. Landsat-8 is a satellite we love because it is open data that is regularly updated. We think this tool will help other developers and organizations to work with open satellite data. Check out below a few of our other favorite spots we've processed through the tool.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Palestine and Israel (path: 174, row: 038, id: <a href="">LC81740382014188LGN00</a>)</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Yamal Peninsula, Siberia (path: 168, row: 010, id: <a href="">LC81680102014178LGN00</a>)</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Amazon Delta, Brazil (path: 225, row: 060, id: <a href="">LC82250602013174LGN00</a>)</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>Karachi, Pakistan (path: 153, row: 43, id: <a href="">LC81520432014018LGN00</a>)</em></p> 2014-08-21T16:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Extracting building height from Lidar <p>Lidar is similar to radar...but with lasers. <a href="">Lidar</a> produces incredibly accurate and specific spatial information, making it great for measuring building heights and modeling the impact of floods and raising sea levels. Advances in lidar technology are making lidar data more available. Humanitarian drones may make it possible to collect up-to-date lidar data in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.</p> <p>Lidar data is still complicated to work with due to its size, but can be managed entirely through open source tools. We extracted building heights for a neighborhood in San Francisco to demonstrate how this can be done using <a href="">open lidar data</a> and open source tools.</p> <iframe width="100%" height="500px" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe> <p><em>Extracted building height rendered in 3d using Tilemill.</em></p> <p>Understanding vertical growth of a city is as important as understanding its horizontal growth. Building heights are crucial data for everything from disaster response to measuring economic growth. Here we demonstrate how to create a building-height footprint using open data and open source tools.</p> <h3>Open Source Tools and Open Data</h3> <p>We used <a href="">libLAS</a>, <a href="">PostGIS</a>, and <a href="">QGIS</a> to extract building heights in the Richmond District of San Francisco.</p> <p>You can download open lidar data from <a href="">USGS Earth Explorer</a>. In this example we combine that with building footprints from <a href="">OpenStreetMap</a>.</p> <h4>Processing Lidar</h4> <p>We used libLAS, an open source lidar library, to process a lidar point cloud that we downloaded from USGS and converted the lidar data into a .txt file for import into a PostGIS database. PostGIS is great for handling processing-intensive data, like lidar.</p> <p>We then pulled building footprints of San Francisco from OpenStreetMap and loaded this data into our PostGIS database. By joining the lidar data with OSM building footprints we can determine accurate elevations of the top of each building.</p> <p><img src="" alt="screen shot 2014-08-05 at 11 14 49 am" /></p> <p><em>Lidar data is extremely dense. There are thousands of data points in the space representing a city road between buildings and thousands more in each building footprint.</em></p> <p>But we want building height. As it is, our data won't distinguish between a short building on a hill, and a tall building in a valley. For each building we construct a two-metre buffer around every building footprint and determine the lowest area in that buffer. By subtracting the elevation of the building from the lowest elevation of the buffer we can determine the building height and append this data to each building footprint. This is how we convert raw data into useable information.</p> <p><a href="">Here are our step-by-step notes that you can replicate to extract building heights from your own lidar data.</a></p> <p>Once we have the building heights we can render the buildings in 3d using Tilemill and Mapbox. We use Tilemill's building symbolizer to visualize building height and produce a 3d render of each building. This <a href="">Mapbox tutorial</a> provides an excellent overview of getting started with visualizing buildings in 3d.</p> <h4>Measuring Building Height</h4> <p>As <a href="">rapid global urbanization</a> continues in cities around the world, the need for intelligent city design will be crucial in accomodating growing populations. Vertical sprawl can help us understand the needs and surplus of vertical growth across a city. The <a href="">Burj Khalifa</a> stands at 830 metres and is regarded as the 'Building of the Century'. How could this vertical space have been better distributed to better suit the needs of residents? Lidar can help us understand the urban landscape, and begin to question vertical sprawl as we do horizontal sprawl.</p> 2014-08-07T11:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Adding Context to Afghanistan Runoff Elections <p>Following the 2009 election in Afghanistan, this picture helped quantify the extent of elections fraud in that election.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>This map was part of, a open election data site that we built with the National Democratic Institute. It showed a simple but meaningful story: many polling stations returning a high ballot count had cast over 90% of those votes for a single candidate.</p> <p>Results from recent runoff election are again marred by <a href="">fraud and ballot stuffing</a>, leaving Afghans and the international community looking to understand the extent of affected ballots in the preliminary results.</p> <h3>Open Data to Support the Recount</h3> <p>Today NDI <a href="">releases data on all 22,399 polling stations</a>, giving tools for citizens and policy-makers to dig deep into the results, and investigate where fraud may have occurred. As the nation-wide recount restarts, it is more important than ever for citizens to have access to data that allows them to hold this process accountable.</p> <p>The data, which is processed from preliminary results released by the Afghanistan International Election Committee, is freely available for download on the site.</p> <h3>Analyzing Election Results for Fraud</h3> <p>When election fraud becomes more sophisticated, the tools to analyze election results must improve. As in 2009, stations with high vote counts that return an unusual percent for one person are good targets for investigation.</p> <p>A heatmap shows the distribution of stations that meet this criteria. In Paktika, the results show Ashraf Ghani winning 100% of 600 ballots in well over a hundred stations. The <a href="">number of ballots supposedly cast in this province</a> is roughly equal to it's estimated population.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The full distribution of polling stations can provide further clues. We plotted the number of stations at each vote count for every district and province. Some show an even distribution, as in <a href="">Farah</a>, <a href="">Panjsher</a>, and <a href="">Zabul</a>, shown below.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Contrast this with the density lines for <a href="">Paktika</a>, <a href="">Khost</a>, and <a href="">Baghlan</a>, where the majority of stations skew towards returning a full 600 votes, with very few other stations in the spread.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The site looks at other critical questions such as: <a href="">Where did the number votes exceed the population?</a> and <a href="">Where did each candidate gain and lose votes?</a> To facilitate further analysis by others, all data and results are <a href="">available for download</a> in CSV format.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> 2014-07-28T17:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Hello, SRCCON <p>Derek and I are excited to be at <a href="">SRCCON</a> in Philly this Thursday and Friday. We'll co-facilitate a <a href="">Super Mappin'</a> session, discussing how we deploy huge datasets into maps using unapologetic frontend solutions. We're thrilled to be co-presenters with <a href="">Al Shaw</a> and <a href="">Ian Dees</a>, who will cover the digs of raster data and OSM exports.</p> <p>SRCCON is a first-year conference that invites developers, designers, and thinkers who work in or near the newsroom. Please say hi if you run into us!</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>Graphics based on photo by <a href="">12th St David</a>.</em></p> 2014-07-23T16:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Jekyll-hook Updated; Run your own Github Pages <p>We just released v0.2 for <a href="">Jekyll-hook</a>. We love GitHub and the simplicity of publishing sites to <a href="">GitHub Pages</a>. This workflow allows us to <a href="">rapidly build and easily maintain CMS-free data-driven websites</a>. Sometimes we need to host sites on our own infrastructure. For that reason, we created <a href="">Jekyll-hook</a>. Jekyll-hook allows you to host your own GitHub Pages, on your own infrastructure, connected to a GitHub repository.</p> <p><a href="">As we've described in the past</a>, Jekyll-hook is a Node-js server that can build a <a href="">Jekyll</a> site whenever a commit is pushed to a GitHub repository. Use it instead of GitHub Pages when you need to host a site on your own infrastructure, for instance when you need extra features such as using <a href="">Jekyll plugins</a>, or want to put your website behind a firewall or add basic authentication.</p> <p>Version 0.2 allows you to deploy on the latest version of Ubuntu and to benefit from security and stability updates. The setup is simple and fast. You can setup a new Jekyll-hook server for production in less than 10 minutes. The documentation will guide you through all stages of setup on an Ubuntu 14.03 installation.</p> <p>Along with the version increase, we also updated the <a href="">documentation</a>, making it even easier to build your own CMS-free sites. Get started with the <a href="">readme</a>, <a href="">read more</a> about the development of Jekyll-hook, or check out more on how we build <a href="">CMS-free websites</a>.</p> 2014-07-23T09:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Opening an election, thank you Github <p>We just published our analysis "<a href="">What Happened in the Afghanistan Elections?</a>". I worked with <a href="">Drew Bollinger</a> to examine the degree and impact of potential election fraud in the country by comparing the results to the population and looking for statistical anomalies in the results. We are <a href="">using Github to track all our data</a>, opening up <a href="">population data from the government</a> and our <a href="">analysis scripts</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Open access to official data makes analysis possible. Our findings are blunt. Twenty-one districts in Afghanistan reported more votes than the estimated population using the most recent official data from <a href="">Afghanistan Central Statistics Organization (CSO)</a>. Districts with significant increases from the first election in April turnout are much more likely to have runoff turnout numbers greater than the population. More than 500,000 votes came from districts with more votes than people and 1.85 million votes came from districts where more than 60% of the population voted. Again, abnormal distributions of vote counts can provide insight into identifying fraudulent provincial results (<a href="">read the full report</a>).</p> <p>Data is complicated, especially in conflict zones. Afghanistan had one partial census in 1979 before war broke out. The government has been working to augment this old data. For instance, between 2003-2005 UNFPA and the CSO ran a new <a href="">Socio-Economic and Demographic Profile</a>, a household level survey that was a rebasing for a planned future census. We are currently pulling all the data out of this UNFPA PDF report (expect an update later today) and posting it to Github. But even this rebasing was incomplete because of limited access given the conflict --- for example, the results from Helmand, Zabul, Daikundi, and Paktika were never updated in the official CSO numbers. In short, the lack of updated data is causing some of these outliers in our findings.</p> <p>But this lack of data only points to a larger issue: data is infrastructure. Governments need data to run well and elections need open data to be administered well. And this is why we are using Github, it's a place to put data that is openly accessible and social so citizens can not only have access to data to ensure transparency and accountability, but so they can improve the data. <a href="">Github makes data social</a>. Pull requests wanted. Hit us up <a href="">@developmentseed</a> on twitter if you have questions.</p> 2014-07-19T15:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Alireza joins Development Seed <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>We welcome engineer <a href="/team/alireza-j">Alireza J</a> to Development Seed. Alireza will be helping us to build smarter and faster. He will help us to build more usable and useful APIs, develop robust open source tools for data processing, and improve our approach to infrastructure. Alireza will be making it easier for data to play with other data.</p> <p>Alireza has a background in mining engineering and journalism. His most recent work is in international development, opening data and advancing transparency in some of the most repressive environments. Alireza is a tenacious problem solver and a smart storyteller.</p> <p>We are delighted to have Alireza on the team. Follow Alireza on Twitter at <a href="">@scisco7</a>.</p> 2014-07-16T15:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Visualizing Water Cut Backs in Las Vegas <p>Lake Mead, providing Las Vegas with 90 percent of its water needs, <a href="">has reached its lowest water levels since its original filling</a> and the city has implemented mandatory water cuts of 4.6 percent per person (from 130 gallons in 2012 to 124 gallons in 2013). Similar to <a href="">identifying crop vulnerability related to North Korea's drought conditions</a>, vegetation analysis can be used by city managers to evaluate effects of drought and to design, evaluate, and enforce water conservation policies in water limited environments. The <a href="">map below</a> shows the percent change in vegetation, per pixel, before and after the water cuts. Areas in red have experienced a decrease in vegetation, areas in yellow have remained the same, and areas in green have experienced an increase in vegetation.</p> <iframe width="100%" height="550px" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe> <p><em><a href="">Toggle OpenStreetMap labels for city locations.</a> <a href="">View full screen map.</a></em></p> <p>To create this data we used <a href="">Landsat</a> imagery and <a href="">NDVI</a> to isolate and then analyze vegetation cover. We showed this last week on a much larger scale with our <a href="">North Korea drought post</a>. Both municipal managers and humanitarian relief workers can use vegetation analysis to evaluate effects of drought and to design and enforce water conservation or disaster preparedness policies that may help mitigate or avoid disasters.</p> 2014-07-16T10:00:00+00:00 Development Seed Open Mapping Happy Hour in Berlin <p>We'll be at <a href="">Open Knowledge Festival</a> in Berlin next week talking about <a href="">open data in elections</a>, <a href="">OSM for disaster preparedness</a>, and <a href="">building better APIs</a>.</p> <p>If you are in Berlin, come say hey Wednesday night at the <a href="">Pratergarten</a>. We're hosting an <a href="">Open Mapping Happy Hour</a> with our friends at <a href="">Mapbox</a>, <a href="">Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team</a>, <a href="">CartoDB</a>, and <a href="">Zeit Online</a>.</p> <p><a href="">RSVP here!</a> You don't need an #OKFest14 pass to join!</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> 2014-07-11T12:30:00+00:00 Development Seed Visualizing North Korea's Worst Drought in Decades <p>The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) is experiencing <a href="">its worst drought</a> in over a decade. According to reports, some areas have experienced 70 days without rain as well as the lowest rainfall levels since 1961. As <a href="">food shortages</a> are already a problem for North Korea, the damage that this drought will likely cause for harvests is cause for serious alarm. Food shortages in the 1990s led to an estimated million deaths.</p> <iframe width="100%" height="600px" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe> <p><em><a href="">Toggle OpenStreetMap labels to pinpoint most vulnerable cities.</a></em></p> <p>We used satellite data to measure what areas are most impacted by the drought. We examined <a href="">MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)</a> data to evaluate current vegetation levels across the country as a proxy for drought. <a href="">The map</a> shows the difference between current vegetation levels (data comprising NDVI measurements from June 10 through June 25) and a baseline constructed from average vegetation levels, for the same June extent, over the past 5 years (2009-2013). Red areas have less vegetation than normal. Darker red shows significantly less vegetation. Green areas have higher levels of vegetation than average. Blank spots are the result of ground-obscuring clouds in the satellite imagery.</p> <p>This drought map can be used to identify urban areas most vulnerable to food shortages right now, to plan irrigation and relief efforts, or to identify areas that are susceptible to widespread forest fires.</p> 2014-07-08T07:30:00+00:00 Development Seed Afghanistan Runoff Elections from Space <p>On June 14 Afghans went to the polls to vote for a new President. As they voted, satellites overhead captured images of polling locations. High-resolution satellite images can be helpful in investigating election fraud.</p> <p>This morning the IEC reported that over 8.1 million people went to the polls on June 14, a historically high turnout. At the same time, the IEC acknowledged that fraud occurred at polling locations around the country. Before releasing preliminary results, the IEC <a href="">audited the results from 1,930 polling stations</a> that reported 100% ballot submission.</p> <p>We've pulled satellite imagery that captures the June 14 runoff elections. We <a href="">mapped one set of imagery showing twelve polling centers at 11:26 AM local time on Election Day</a> near Shindand in Herat Province.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a> <em>Election day satellite imagery of twelve polling stations near Shindand</em></p> <p>Four of these centers include stations that reported 599 or 600 ballots--more than one voter per minute. Processing, inking, and issuing ballots to 600 voters takes all day. One would expect to see lines and a steady flow of people at polling stations that returned the maximum number of ballots. Several of these locations include tents and buildings that will make it difficult to measure the number of people at the polling station. Still one would expect to see a steady flow of cars and foot traffic near polling stations that processed 600 voters. Our first look at the satellite imagery shows less activity than would be expected at polling centers with stations that returned the maximum number of votes.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>June 14 satellite imagery of four polling stations that reported 599-600 votes</em></p> <p><img src="" alt="" /> <em>In comparison, at a building at an nearby air field we can see 38 vehicles and approximately 20 people around the facility.</em></p> 2014-07-07T12:30:00+00:00 Development Seed Auditing the Afghanistan Audits <p>The Afghanistan's Election Commission (IEC) released a list of <a href="">the 1,930 polling stations to be audited</a> for potential fraud. The stations in the audit returned 599-600 votes in the presidential runoff, 100% ballot submission since each polling station only has 600 ballots. The challenge for the IEC is to determine which ballot boxes represent legitimate high turnout and which demonstrate evidence of fraud.</p> <p>The release of the audit list is a strong move by the IEC to demonstrate transparency during the audit process. We analyzed these polling stations to begin to determine the degree of possible fraud. We <a href="">posted the raw data to github</a> and encourage you to undertake your own analysis.</p> <h3>Where are the audit polling stations</h3> <p>The 1930 polling stations currently under investigation represent 1,157,470 votes for around 15% of total turnout. The locations of audited polling stations currently largely track to areas with high levels of ballot box stuffing in <a href=";lat=33.9&amp;lon=66.5&amp;layers=district_map_openlayers_1&amp;baseLayers=afghanistan-grey">the 2009 Presidential Election</a>. The audit list also covers most of the polling stations in Paktya where we saw <a href="">evidence of fraudulent results in the first round of presidential election</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a> <em><a href="">Locations of polling centers under IEC audit</a></em></p> <h3>Using April 5 results to identify deviation</h3> <p>Another way to analyze the audit polling stations is to examine how these stations performed during the first round of elections on April 5th. Of the 1,930 polling stations currently being audited, 1,372 returned results in the first round of elections. The remaining 558 either returned no votes or the results were rejected by the election commission.</p> <p>Looking at these 1,372 polling stations whose votes were counted in the first round; these polling stations contributed 661,168 total votes in the April 5 election. For the June 14 election, these same polling stations contributed 822,790 votes, an increase of 161,622 votes (24.4%) or an additional 118 votes per polling station. In April these 1,372 polling stations returned 219,652 votes (33.2%) for Abdullah and 235,494 votes (35.6%) for Ashraf Ghani. The polling stations under question previously supported Ghani slightly more than average. Nationally Abdullah received 45% of the vote to Ghani's 31%.</p> <p>Some polling stations in this group legitimately had 600 voters in both elections. <strong>We looked for potential fraud by isolating the polling stations that saw a substantial increase in votes between April 5 and June 14</strong>. Of the 1,372 polling stations retuning results in both elections, 829 also returned 599 or more votes in both elections. 422 polling stations saw a jump of of 100 votes or more. One polling center at Molla Joma Gul Mosque in Sar Rawza, Paktika reported a total of 31 votes between both polling stations during April 5 elections. Just one of these polling station returned 600 votes in June 14 elections.</p> <h3>Results fingerprinting</h3> <p>Let's look deeper at how audit polling stations performed during April 5 elections.</p> <p>This scatterplot shows the total turnout (y-axis) of the 1372 polling station against the number of votes for Abdullah (x-axis) at those stations:</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Across the top are all of the polling stations that reported around 600 in April, and whose results were accepted. Abdullah's performance at these stations was evenly distributed. He did poorly at some and well at others.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>In the more concerning polling stations with significantly more votes, no notable pattern emerges. Abdullah preformed relatively poorly in polling stations with a significant jump in results.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>This scatterplot shows the total turnout (y-axis) of the 1,372 polling stations against the number of votes for Ghani (x-axis):</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Again we see a large number of polling stations that reported 600 votes in April. Again there is a relatively even distribution. Ghani performs well in some, poorly in others.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>However, a look at the concerning polling stations that saw a significant jump between rounds shows that most of these polling stations voted almost entirely for Ghani in April.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Remember these are all polling stations that reported 599-600 ballots in the most recent round of elections. Many of these stations reported fewer than 100 votes in the previous round. The Ghani campaing asserts that they did a better job of campaigning and getting out the vote through local religious leaders. <a href="">Independent analysts suggest</a> that there was a surge in voter turnout in Paktia, Khost, and Paktika. Still, it is remarkable that so many small Ghani-leaning polling stations increased their turnout full capacity.</p> <p>Polling stations with less than 100 votes in April and 600 votes in June are largely in Khost, Paktika, and Wardak.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>This analysis is possible because the IEC is opening data about the process. We look forward to seeing other analysis of this data. We will complete an extensive audit once the full results are published.</p> 2014-07-03T14:30:00+00:00 Development Seed OpenStreetMap, Disaster Preparedness, and Growing Cities <p>OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a <a href="">powerful tool for disaster preparedness planning</a>. OSM is most helpful where the data is complete (includes all buildings, road networks, and other points of interest) and detailed (building heights, materials, structural information). Good OSM data can be used by tools such as <a href="">InaSAFE</a> to generate better policy and operational insight.</p> <p>We looked at the OSM data for <a href="">five of the fastest growing cities</a> and evaluated what data they currently have available on OSM, and what gaps they should address to best identify their risks. Quickly growing cities are interesting for a few reasons:</p> <ul> <li>Fast population growth often exceeds the ability of local authorities to maintain critical infrastructure, building codes, and smart resource allocation. This leads to at-risk structures and vulnerable populations.</li> <li>Large future populations mean large exposure to potential hazards.</li> <li>The fastest growing cities are currently small to mid-sized. They have received relatively little attention from the international mapping community and provide a fantastic opportunity to start building a community around mapping and planning.</li> </ul> <h3>Kabul, Afghanistan</h3> <p><img src="" alt="Kabul, Afghanistan" /> <em>Kabul, Afghanistan on OSM as of June 25, 2014.</em></p> <p>The road framework in Kabul is well developed but building mapping is largely limited to non-residential buildings. Furthermore, of the 771 buildings in the selected area, only 44 have additional tags to indicate what the building is used for. This makes it difficult to distinguish a school from a hospital from a Mosque. We've <a href="">worked</a> <a href="">extensively</a> <a href="">with</a> polling station locations in Afghanistan, many of which are schools, mosques, and clinics. We are <a href="">working with the OSM community to import this data</a> to improve points of interest across Afghanistan. However this will not address the significant gap in residential buildings and construction data.</p> <p>Kabul isn't at particularly high risk of most natural disasters. There are <a href="[0]=field_country%3A13">occasional earthquakes and flash flooding</a> though, for which is critical to have accurate population and building information for preparedness, response, and evacuation.</p> <h3>Surat, India</h3> <p><img src="" alt="Surat, India" /> <em>Surat, India on the banks of the Tapti River.</em></p> <p>Similar to Kabul, Surat's OSM map shows good road network mapping in the downtown area but very few buildings--there are only 40 buildings in all of Surat. There is also no data on building materials, levels, or structure.</p> <p>Surat is in a <a href="">precarious position</a> in regards to flooding. In 1994, there was a high profile medical emergency when flooding led to an outbreak of a pneumonic plague epidemic. An <a href="">effective health care response</a> helped mitigate the damage but better flood planning can certainly help avoid these types of problems in the future.</p> <h3>Sana'a, Yemen</h3> <p><img src="" alt="Sana'a, Yemen" /> <em>Sana'a, Yemen. Hosptials shown in red.</em></p> <p>Like Kabul and Surat, the road network in Sana'a is quite good with very few buildings mapped. However, there are notably 47 hospitals and clinics mapped in OSM.</p> <h3>Ghaziabad, India</h3> <p><img src="" alt="Ghaziabad, India" /> <em>Ghaziabad, India just east of New Delhi.</em></p> <p>At first glance, Ghaziabad appears to have a good amount of road and building coverage. Upon further investigation, it turns out that the real center of the city is towards the upper right of this map and has almost no mapping done.</p> <iframe width="100%" height="600px" frameBorder="0" src=",brunosan.4#13/28.6398/77.4146"></iframe> <p><em>Use the slider to toggle between the OSM data and satellite imagery.</em></p> <p>As a neighboring city of Delhi, it's not surprising that the outskirts are well mapped but it is surprising to see how little is mapped in the central and eastern portions of the city. It would be a boon to disaster risk planning if the areas around the nearby Hindon river were mapped in case of persistent rains and flooding.</p> <h3>Beihai, China</h3> <p><img src="" alt="Beihai, China" /> <em>Beihai, China on the north shore of the Gulf of Tonkin.</em></p> <p>Beihai is the least well-mapped of these five cities. This is not surprising given legal restrictions on OSM in China. The Surveying and Mapping Law <a href="">prohibits any citizen mapping or surveying</a> in mainland China. Restrictive mapping policies in places such as China and <a href="">in Pakistan</a> will severely hamper the ability of local communities to smartly plan their growth and prepare for disasters.</p> <p>Currently the population within the urban area is under one million but the city is predicted to experience the fastest growth of any urban area by 2020. The city is relatively low-lying, coastal, and experiences a <a href="">significant</a> <a href="">monsoon season</a> so planning ahead for floods and other associated hazards is increasingly important as the population grows.</p> <h3>Coordinating around OSM</h3> <p><a href="">The Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI)</a> is one group working to coordinate activities using OSM and open data "to reduce the impact of disasters by empowering decisions-makers with better information and the tools to support their decisions." The field guide released this spring provides a wealth of knowledge on this topic, particularly in regards to building inspection and tagging OSM data. As a part of the Understanding Risk Forum in London this week, OpenDRI will be holding a workshop on Friday on learning the tools used in OpenDRI projects. Check out the OpenDRI Field Guide for additional information.</p> <p>In the long run, the success of projects like OpenDRI will depend on efforts to improve the OSM footprint in the most vulnerable places.</p> 2014-07-01T09:30:00+00:00 Development Seed OpenStreetMap for disaster risk management <p>The <a href="">2014 Understanding Risk Forum</a> kicks off today in London. One thing that I'll discuss while I'm here is using open data to make better decisions, specifically looking at how we are using <a href="">OpenStreetMap (OSM)</a>. Disaster preparedness begins with access to information about population and infrastructure. This starts with open data and the ability to use timely and relevant data for disaster risk assessments and preparedness activities.</p> <h3>OpenStreetMap and disasters</h3> <p>OSM is an open, freely available global dataset of geographic and infrastructure data. We use OSM heavily in our work as do other disaster response organizations, ranging from the World Bank to university research centers and NGOs. <a href="">Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's (HOT)</a> is perhaps the most visible example of using OSM to provide timely data to disaster response efforts. The <a href="">World Bank</a>'s <a href="">InaSAFE</a> hazard modeling tool uses infrastructure data mapped in OpenStreetMap to run preparedness analysis and impact modeling. The <a href="">WorldPop</a> project, a high-resolution human population distribution mapping project, uses OSM to increase accuracy of their population distribution data around the world. Using road and building data from OSM, WorldPop can produce higher resolution density mapping datasets for public use.</p> <p>These groups all use OSM because it is the best data available. And through their efforts working with with OSM they continue to improve it. From hazard and exposure mapping, risk modeling and impact analysis, education and training, to disaster preparedness, open data sets are vital to understanding risk.</p> <p><a href=";id=12"><img src="" alt="world pop before and after" /></a> <em>Precision and accuracy of population distribution models before and after using OSM. Photo: WorldPop</em></p> <p>I'll also be discussing satellites, drones, data visualization and other essential tools for understanding risk. OpenStreetMap is a part of the critical infrastructure behind all these efforts. Find me on Twitter at <a href="">@nas_smith</a> if to meet up and chat!</p> 2014-06-30T09:30:00+00:00 Development Seed