Archives for posts with tag: Developing Nations

The Open Data Institute in London has awarded the project, through the SMART Open Source Geospatial Laboratory, a grant to showcase the project’s use of open data and software.

Read the announcement here:

Link to Q&A interview about the award below.


The Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Municipal Engineer recently published my work on using crowd-sourced data to model Fecal Sludge Management in the settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.


Improvements in the collection and treatment of sewage are critical to reduce health and environmental hazards in rapidly urbanising informal settlements. Where sewerage infrastructure is not available, road-based faecal sludge management options are often the only alternative. However, the costs of faecal sludge transportation are often a barrier to its implementation and operation and thus it is desirable to optimise travel time from source to treatment to reduce costs.

This paper presents a novel technique, employing spatial network analysis, to optimise the spatio- topological configuration of a road-based faecal sludge transportation network on the basis of travel time. Using crowd-sourced spatial data for the Kibera settlement and the surrounding city, Nairobi, a proof-of-concept network model was created simulating the transport of waste from the 158 public toilets within Kibera. The toilets are serviced by vacuum pump trucks which move faecal sludge to a transfer station, and from there a tanker transports waste to a treatment plant. The model was used to evaluate the efficiency of different network configurations, based on transportation time. The results show that the location of the transfer station is a critical factor in network optimisation, demonstrating the utility of network analysis as part of the sanitation planning process.

Download Paper (.pdf)

Previously, in this blog post, I discussed the ways in which we’re tackling the infrastructure challenges in developing nations using open data. Below are the slides I presented at the first International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure. The work presented is a proof-of-concept model using data from Map Kibera to optimise a road-based sewage network. The great thing about using this data is that for the first time we can glean an insight into infrastructure provision in informal urban settlements, and examine methods to improve it.

The world is becoming more urban – so how do we ensure our infrastructure meets the social, economic and climatic challenges of the 21st century? This was the theme of the recent International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure (ISNGI) hosted by the SMART Infrastructure Facility, at the University of Wollongong. The symposium highlighted some of the great research going on in Australia and around the world to understand how we can make our cities and their infrastructure sustainable for future generations.

IWA Poster

Sanitation Network Modelling Poster

But what about developing nations? How do we model infrastructure when there’s no data? Or when the system is changing so fast that traditional data collection techniques become redundant? How do we quantify the infrastructure requirements of a slum when it’s  population fluctuates by 800,000 people annually? More importantly, how do you engage with that community to understand their needs?

One solution is to use open data and open tools. The world is becoming more connected, and crowd-sourced data offer, for the first time, an insight into infrastructure in some of the world’s poorest cities and informal settlements which have never before been mapped. The Map Kibera project is a really great example of this. In collaboration with colleagues from the UK, we built a prototype model to demonstrate the utility of data from Map Kibera and Open Street Map for spatio-topological network modelling, to optimise road-based sanitation for Kibera. I presented this work at ISNGI, and Ruth recently presented a poster of this work at the International Water Association Congress and Exhibition in Nairobi. We’ve demonstrated it’s possible – the challenge now is to make it work in the real world.