Booming with Confidence – the GOFC 2015 Data Initiative

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Nine fellows from Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Bulgaria, South Africa, Togo, India, Nepal, and Madagascar attended this year’s GOFC-GOLD Data Initiative Advanced Training from July 20 to August 8, 2015 in the United States.  Each participant has their own unique story of what the training meant to them.  One of the participants, Godfrey Pachavo, reports that “today I boom with confidence due to the knowledge they imparted on me.”  You can read more about Godfrey’s journey below.

The first week of the training took place at the USGS EROS Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where the participants received advanced training on data management and archiving practices.  They learned how to access, download, and compile pertinent regionalGOFC training class_cropped and country-level data sets on land cover, land use, and fire observations.  Fellows then headed to Boston University to get advanced training on use of relevant software for data processing and application.

Each participant received fully functional and open-source software for processing Earth observations data, which would allow them and (their colleagues back home) to employ recent advancements in remote sensing analyses without spending large amounts of money on proprietary software. Back in their home regions, these GOFC-GOLD fellows will distribute their acquired data, software and skills and provide training to their colleagues.


“Before and After” with Godfrey Pachavo

Godfrey Pachavo gained both his BSc and MPhil degrees from the University of Zimbabwe. His research interests include earth observation science and spatial ecology, where he produced research output on net primary productivity modelling and its distribution patterns in relation to land use/tenure and biomass assessment for thermal power generation. He is a Research Associate in the Geo-information and Remote Sensing Institute (GRSI) of the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC).

Before the training, Godfrey said “I want to understand the USGS EO data server (EarthExplorer) in order to effectively utilise its EO products when back home. I expect to gain capacity especially on Image processing methods for biomass and biodiversity monitoring applications.”

Afterwards, he reportedThe experience I had in Sioux Falls and Boston is one of the best I ever had in my life time. The two sessions were well organised and packaged with quality detail useful to forestry and land use/cover research studies in our countries.

The first session at the USGS EROS Center in Sioux Falls enlightened me so much on the freely available data from the USGS and how to fully access the different datasets using different web sites. This session also gave us an insight on how to manage large data sets and archiving practices even when back at our institutions. The tour of the Centre made us appreciate how other scientists have worked hard to make the world a better place for the scientists of this generation. The hands-on experience of downloading different datasets from different websites with the help of USGS Team was also of great help. All the USGS Team was very welcoming and supportive during our stay in Sioux Falls. Special mention goes to Anya, Charlie, and Dr. Loveland. I really enjoyed every minute of my stay in Sioux Falls and the Barbecue and the excursion too.

The second session at the Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University provided us with great deal of essential skills on the analysis and application of earth observation data for research and management of forest and land cover dynamics. This session was divided into theory and practical sessions for each day. The theory gave us a detailed insight of major remote sensing aspects. Also the presentation of scientific papers published in high impact journals provided us the opportunity to understand some of those applications and concepts, which we deemed complicated and difficult to replicate. The practical sessions in new open source software gave us the hands on experience of applying certain algorithms for our studies. I learnt quite a lot of remote sensing aspects during this session including multi-date change detection and accuracy assessment. For me, I had always thought the Kappa statistic was enough yet it’s very weak for accuracy assessment. I would like to thank the Boston Team for the amazing package they gave us and for organising a Barbecue for us. Special mention goes to Prof. Curtis Woodcock, Prof. Pontus Olofsson, Christopher and Eric. Today I boom with confidence due to the knowledge they imparted on me. Special mention also goes to Senay for making sure all our needs and logistics including the hard drives were met and the USGS and START for the funding.