top of page









From Peru to Ghana to New Zealand, 146 participants from around the world joined the GEO Indigenous Alliance and indigenous leaders and communities to produce solutions to crowdsourced challenges developed through a process of co-design. 

The project involved curating a series of virtual hackathons in various indigenous and under-represented communities with the intent of co-designing locally relevant EO-based challenges that are culturally appropriate to indigenous beliefs and conceptions about diseases. Learn more about some of the teams below:

First Place Winner: Team Visibilidade and the Symbols Maps Team


The Symbols Maps Team solved a challenge submitted by Titus Letaapo called The Namunyak/blessed App. The challenge was to  develop an app that would allow the Samburu Tribe in northern Kenya to build their own culturally relevant map. Members of the Symbols Maps team included: Lucandrea Mancini (Italian rocket scientist based in Italy), Yoanna Dimitrova (Bulgarian archaeology and anthropology student based in the UK), Mirosława Alunowska (Mexican Engineer currently working as a data analyst in the UK) and Nicolas Marin (Ecologist from Colombia based in Australia). Learn more about their winning solution here.

Also recognized in first place, Team Visibilidade solved the Visibilidade challenge submitted by Claudinete Cole de Souza to develop a visualization tool to allow the Quilombola community to tell a story of how COVID19 is affecting their community in Brazil. Members of team Visbilidade included: Douglas Mbura  (Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Geo-Appsmith from Kenya)  and Rasha Elnimeiry, (Epidemiologist and GIS data specialist from Sudan).  Their solution can be found here.

Image by Mateus Campos Felipe
Image by Tiago Louvize

Second Place Winner: Terrastories Map

The Terrastories: Lakhota Makha was submitted by Rudo Kemper from the US in response to the  Lapi Wowapi Challenge to develop an app that will support the transmission of knowledge between the Elders and the youth whilst advancing the use of the Lakota language via digital stories that have a connection with the landscape. This challenge was submitted by James Rattling Leaf Sr. from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, South Dakota, US.


Third Place Winner: Journey to the Market App

The Ondjila ya Sankoni (Journey To The Market) App was submitted by Wilhelmina Nekoto from Namibia in response to the Sokoni app/market challenge to develop an app that will allow the Samburu Tribe in Northern Kenya to sell and purchase livestock without having to go to the market. This challenge was submitted by Titus Letaapo from the Samburu Tribe in Kenya.

As part of the GEO Indigenous Hack4Covid event, the overall winning team and the indigenous community that submitted the challenge will receive, as a prize, mentorship from the Google Earth Outreach Team  and from the indigenous-owned consultancy The Firelight Group. Additionally, they will receive mentorship on the protection of Indigenous/traditional knowledge and on the CARE Principles of Indigenous Data Governance by the Global Indigenous Data Alliance. The Indigenous community that submitted the challenge to the winning team will receive a voucher to purchase mobile phones or laptops from the Firelight Group. The winning teams will also be featured in the Geospatial Insights newsletter of the Knowledge Transfer Network  and in an upcoming feature on the GEO Observations Blog.

The challenges that have not been solved will remain open until the indigenous communities find a suitable solution. We will also be adding more challenges from other Indigenous communities. And we will be adding more challenges co-designed with other Indigenous leaders from around the world.

The emergence of the global data revolution and associated new technologies can be a double-edged sword for Indigenous Peoples.  If Indigenous Peoples have control over what and how data and knowledge will be generated, analyzed and documented, and over the dissemination and use of these, positive results can come about. The collection and disaggregation of data on Indigenous Peoples and the documentation and transmission of their knowledge to younger generations can be facilitated. They can be the primary beneficiaries of the use of data, their knowledge and their cultural heritage. If, however, Indigenous Peoples lose control because there are no existing laws and policies that recognize their rights and regulate the behavior of institutions and individuals involved in gathering and disseminating data and knowledge, marginalization, inequality and discrimination will persist. The respect of their right to have their free, prior and informed consent obtained before data are gathered and disseminated is crucial to prevent this from happening. To inspire more Indigenous Peoples to assert and actualize their rights to control, own and further develop their knowledge and cultural heritage and to effectively transmit these to the younger generations.

bottom of page