An Integrated Deprived Area Mapping System (IDEAMAPS) Network has launched a three-year project to develop a data-sharing ecosystem of informal settlements and other deprived urban areas routinely and accurately at scale in Lagos, Kano, Abuja, and Nairobi.
The project which is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was launched recently at the University of Lagos. The launch brought together academia, researchers, community leaders, government agencies, statisticians, industry players, civil society organization, and slum dwellers.
Speaking at the event, Urban Big Data Centre Deputy Director and Team Lead of the project, Professor João Porto de Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, said the project will help to drive change in participatory urban analytics platforms and methods.
Albuquerque stated that the project features a multidisciplinary and international consortium with partners at the African Population and Health Research Centre (Kenya), University of Lagos (Nigeria), University of Twente/ITC Faculty (Netherlands), George Washington University (United States), University of York (UK) and University of Glasgow (UK).
He noted that more than 10 million people are added to African cities each year, roughly two-thirds of who live in slums informal settlements, or other deprived areas. We cannot precisely identify the locations and basic characteristics of deprived areas routinely because these areas are heterogeneous and current approaches to map them-community mapping, aggregating household data, digitizing satellite imagery, or machine-learning/AI modeling insufficient of their own and largely silo-ed.
He posited that the Network has been developing an Integrated Deprived Area Mapping System IDEAMAPS that combines cities generated, Earth Observation, census, survey, and other data to produce dynamic, accurate maps o deprived urban areas so that all cities can become equitable, healthy and prosperous.
He added that the network is ready to work with different stakeholders including slum dwellers, local governments, researchers, and academia, and use this data for actual slum improvement and upgrade.
“It is going to be a collaborative process with residents in slum areas, policymakers, and government and academic research. It is to create a one-stop platform, a technology platform that enables people to exchange data in a way that preserves and enables them to do precise policy and actions to improve slums.
Speaking on the choice of destinations for the project, he said Lagos is a powerful metropolis, and Nigeria is one of the highest urbanisation growths, it is growing a lot and the problem of the informal sector and slums is a particular challenge.
“I think also it has a potential in which we have a case where we can learn from and the idea of having both Lagos and Kano is because we have more like a larger city in a secondary city and we can learn from different experiences.
“With this in Nairobi, Kenya more East Africa perspective and learning from these three, we expect to engage a lot of larger number of cities worldwide. For example, we are looking in context for India with other Asian cities to expand our network there and to other cities, which faces other similar challenges around the world,” he said.
In his words, The Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos on Enterprise Geographic Information System (EGIS) and Physical Planning, Dr. Olajide Babatunde, said the government also realise that there are silos of automated information, which are not having a handshake or speaking to each other. So one of the things we want to do as a government is to provide a special data infrastructure where all layers can be plugged into.
Babatunde who was represented by Principal Land Officer, Lands Bureau, Directorate of Land Services, Dr. Olarenwaju Bakinson, said layers from academia, layers from communities themselves, layers from the government. At a time any individual or organisation needs information, it can be extracted from that.
On the plans of the government for slum communities, he said there have been deliberate policies of improvement in the slum areas.
According to him, there are dedicated agencies created for the slum, which Lagos State Urban Renewal Authority as far back as in the early 1990s, and there have been studies done by international organisations.
Also, The Team Lead, of Lagos Urban Studies Group (LUSG) & Senior Lecturer, at the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Peter Elias said that slum communities are complex, and because of that, there is a need for all kinds of data from all sources and in getting the data, there is the need for collaboration of all stakeholders.