July 21, 2004

In battle against hunger and rural poverty, UN uses satellites and Internet

21 July 2004 â Using satellite imagery and spatial databases on the frontline of the battle against hunger and rural poverty, United Nations agencies have developed a new Internet-based system to provide vital agricultural information to decision-makers in developing countries.

GeoNetworkâs InterMap viewer, developed jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), allows users to overlay maps from multiple servers housed at development institutions worldwide to create a customized thematic composite map on their own computer covering such variables as soil quality, vegetation and population density and marketing access.

By overlaying various map layers, InterMap can illustrate the spatial relationship between a series of variables. It can suggest, for example, the extent to which a poor transport infrastructure is keeping a region with a rich agricultural endowment in poverty. Its use of free, open-source software minimizes costs to users â a particular plus for those in developing countries, who can use, modify and redistribute the system source code and do not need to rely on foreign suppliers or costly proprietary software.

Link: UN News Centre

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