14 September 2012 - 16 September 2012

Data Cleanup of Geo-Wiki Crowd-Sourced Data in Ethiopia: Stopping Land Cropping and Improving Food Security

We have collected a plethora of land cover validation points across the globe. In particular in Ethiopia we currently have large disagreements among our validation points and a data cleanup crowd-sourcing exercise would help us tremendously to make a major step forward in being able to understand in which areas land acquisitions might lead to the displacement of the local population.

Land grabbing is the large scale acquisition or leasing of lands in developing countries for purposes such as biofuel production.  We will be able, with this hackathon challenge, to determine land use and hence true land availability. Since the perceived availability of land is one of the most important factors in determining the probability of being a target country for these acquisitions, a better estimate of true land availability is needed. Ethiopia is an example of a country where this is happening.

The Solution: Geo-Wiki is a crowd-sourcing tool used to collect information with Google Earth. You will be asked to identify the presence of cultivated land and settlements in samples taken from Ethiopia, along with your confidence in doing so. These will be areas where land acquisitions may affect the local population so publishing a better map of land availability might help to stop these acquisitions in the future, preserve the livelihoods of the local population and improve local food security. We will also use data on land acquisition to find out if newly acquired land is truly idle or settled and cultivated.


Task 1 (No skills required)

Data cleanup

You will need a laptop/computer with an internet connection and a web browser. Register on the site: http://hackathon.geo-wiki.org, install the Google Earth plug-in and do as many validations as you can over the weekend of the hackathon. Extra points are awarded for inviting friends so get as many of your friends and colleagues on board as possible.

Our goal is to validate more than 50,000 points during the weekend. All the crowdsourced data will become freely available as will any map products that result from the use of this data.


Task 2 (Skills in Communications, Engineering, Computer Science)

We need ideas for how we can spread the word about the hackathon (hackathon.geo-wiki.org) and reach a much larger crowd of interested people. On which websites can we advertise the competition? Can automatic news feeds be produced so that interested universities and NGOs interested in food security and land grabbing can be reached? Or are there other automatic ways to reach these groups? How can we ensure that the website is advertised as widely as possible while also ensuring it is not misused? What are the best channels for communication? How can you make such an application go viral? What do you think we could add to the site that would make it more attractive and get a larger crowd involved in land cover validation?

Our main websites are:




The Geo-Wiki team will be available to provide guidance and support during the hackathon via skype and through our competition geo-wiki facebook site. Some brief training materials will be provided during the weekend. http://hackathon.geo-wiki.org is now online.

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Last edited: 11 September 2012


Steffen Fritz

Senior Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 353

Linda See

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 423


See Geo-wiki page for

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313