Canadian Tech Firm Raises $6.5M To Digitally Map Sub-Saharan Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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An example of a high-definition vector map created by Canadian firm Ecopia Tech showing roads and sidewalks. The company is planning to map sub-Saharan Africa using artificial intelligence tech. Photo supplied by Ecopia Tech

Toronto-based Ecopia Tech has received $6.5 million to digitally map sub-Saharan Africa by converting high-resolution images of the real earth into high-definition vector maps.

With financial backing from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Ecopia Tech aims to map an estimated 342 million buildings, 2.36 million linear miles of roads and 1.43 billion acres of forests, according to the Canadian tech firm.

Ecopia Tech uses artificial intelligence to create accurate, high-definition linear data maps from satellite and aerial imagery.

This is not the first time Ecopia Tech has been involved in an African project. In 2018, the Canadian firm partnered with U.S. space tech company Maxar Technologies to create the first complete map of Tanzania.

It took Ecopia three weeks to accurately map 18,588,871 buildings across the East African country through high-resolution satellite imagery and advanced artificial intelligence tech.

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Tech firm to digitally map sub-Saharan Africa

Digital maps are used throughout the world to improve economic efficiency, help with urban planning and monitor the environment.

Up-to-date digital maps of sub-Saharan Africa’s buildings, roads and general infrastructure could be used by private and public sector organizations for decision-making related to social and economic applications.

These include where to build new roads or plan new schools.

Consulting a vector map could also be useful when preparing a disaster response or deciding where to distribute vaccines for viruses based on where the imagery suggests high-population zones may be.

Technological improvements could also be planned using these maps. For example, decisions regarding where to build renewable energy infrastructure could be based on the detailed maps.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada has provided the initial $6.5 million funding for Ecopia Tech to begin mapping sub-Saharan Africa.

Other partnerships related to the project are expected to be announced in the near future.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada is a foundation created by the Canadian government to advance cleantech innovation by Canadian firms. It does funds and supports small and medium-sized enterprises developing and demonstrating clean technology solutions.