Timely transport

When the Ebola outbreak started in western Africa in 2014, delivering life-saving aid to victims became a key objective for governments and other international organizations. But without accurate maps or transportation routes recorded for affected areas, finding a way to move supplies and people posed a major challenge.

The transportation of supplies and patients to and from remote villages often relies on transport by helicopter, but can be difficult to find a place to land near medical facilities in urban areas. An understanding of the people and terrain through geospatial technology helps pilots identify the best places to land, so aid workers can quickly and efficiently help to those who need it most—both during the Ebola crisis and in future disease outbreaks.

DigitalGlobe’s Human Geography datasets identified the locations of key points of interest (POIs), such as medical facilities and clinics, in disease-affected areas, including Monrovia, Liberia (shown here). Proximity to notable features informs decisions about where to drive relief efforts and how to transport aid to those areas.

Vricon’s 2 m digital surface models (DSMs), produced with DigitalGlobe archive imagery, provided accurate terrain data over wide areas.

DSMs reveal more than what is visible to the naked eye, so hazards based on uneven terrain can be avoided.

Cloud-based algorithms quickly identified safe helicopter landing zones, clear of vertical obstructions, for aircraft delivering medical supplies and transporting Ebola victims.

Accurate information on populations and terrain informs better disease response planning, which means better efficiency on the ground and, most importantly, more lives saved.