Open Data for Governments in Africa

Radiant Earth, PLACE, Spatial Collective, and the Kenyan Space Agency (KSA) are collaborating on a pilot project to collect and curate labeled high-resolution agricultural data for open access and public benefit in Kenya. The project will also foster data engineering and analysis skills development in Kenya.

Historically, it has been expensive to produce high-resolution aerial imagery, which means that such data is typically produced and maintained by commercial sector organizations who use it for their own business needs and have no incentive to share it with other local stakeholders. This pilot project takes advantage of advances in drones, imaging sensors, and cloud-native data sharing best practices to provide a solution that can make imagery accessible to local stakeholders who can address on-the-ground challenges.

The team will use drones to capture high-resolution aerial imagery in Murang’a Town, Kenya. Murang’a Town is a peri-urban town that features a blend of agricultural and urban land uses, highlighting patterns of land transformation and the impact of urbanization on agricultural areas. Once the imagery is collected, it will be labeled by people in Kenya who can verify field boundaries and building footprints. The labeled drone imagery can then be used to train machine learning models to automate the identification of field boundaries and building footprints. This, in turn, has a variety of applications, including crop monitoring and management. For example, the government can use the dataset to streamline land surveying processes, inform urban planning decisions, and improve agricultural policies. Researchers can apply the labeled agricultural data to study aspects such as land-uses, environmental impacts, socio-economic indicators, and resource sustainability.

The primary beneficiaries of this project are multiple government agencies in Kenya, who can leverage this dataset to support their work. KSA will be actively involved in the project, learning alongside project partners, including in-field data collection techniques and data labeling techniques. To ensure the usability of the data by Kenyan government partners, the team will provide training webinars on how to leverage open data and models and transfer knowledge learned from one set of models to another.

The Agricultural Data Collection and Exchange project is funded by the Grand Challenges, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Any project findings and conclusions that will be contained are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Gates Foundation.

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Radiant Earth

Radiant Earth is a non-profit organization actively working to expand access to geospatial data and machine learning models that can be used to address the impacts of climate change and support conservation efforts.


PLACE is a non-profit technology organization established to build and maintain data infrastructure in the public interest. PLACES’ mission is to make mapping data more open, reliable, and accessible to help improve lives, strengthen public services and better care for the environment.

Spatial Collective

Spatial Collective Limited is a Nairobi-based, geospatial innovation and technology consulting company in operation for over a decade. Spatial Collective focuses on supporting communities and organizations in adopting available technologies to collect data that is important to them.

Kenya Space Agency

The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) is a state corporation established in 2017 with the mandate to promote, coordinate and regulate space-related activities in Kenya. The key aspiration of the Agency is to nurture a vibrant and viable domestic space ecosystem in Kenya characterized by a thriving space economy underpinned by enhanced utilization of space services, applications and space-derived data for socioeconomic development, and an enabling national space capability.