Canadian Consulting Engineer

UN software compares transportation routes with agricultural potential

The United Nations is applying satellite imagery, spatial databases and the internet to try and solve food shortage...

July 26, 2004   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The United Nations is applying satellite imagery, spatial databases and the internet to try and solve food shortages and rural poverty.
The GeoNetwork’s InterMap viewer, developed jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), overlays maps from multiple servers housed at development institutions worldwide. Using the overlays, the organizations can create a composite map on their own computers to compare spatial relationships between different factors such as soil quality, vegetation and population density and marketing access. It can suggest, for example, the extent to which a poor transport infrastructure is keeping a region with a rich agricultural endowment in poverty.
“Geographic information is crucial in identifying problems and suggesting possible solutions,” the Rome-based FAO said in a U.N. news release on July 21.
InterMap uses free, open-source software to minimize costs, which means users do not need to rely on foreign suppliers or costly proprietary software. They also have improved access to the UN Department of Food and Agriculture’s databases in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food security.
The system has been working in Mozambique since September last year by 12 government and international agencies working on agriculture, food security and humanitarian issues. It has enabled the agencies to share information and avoid duplication. the World Food Program has also implemented the system in its regional bureaux in Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

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