Songo Mnara

I returned last week from Songo Mnara, where I was providing GNSS survey and GIS support.

View from Palace

View from Palace entrance

It was an amazing 17 days, living and working on a true desert Island. No freshwater, apart from supplies ferried from the mainland, made me appreciate the bounty a tap provides. Experience has taught me that this “first world” appreciation will fade within a few weeks, but for now it’s good to be reminded how lucky I am.

The  Zamani Project uses ground-based LiDAR scanners to record the well preserved buildings, not just here but all over Africa. They kindly passed on all of their GIS data, at no cost.

This was an incredible jumpstart to my work, and allowed on-site demonstration of why GI information feeds so successfully into everyday project management. Even now, watching peoples’ reactions as surveyed data slots into position on screen over layers of GI data, their “Wow” still brings a smile.

With proprietorial software in short supply, we made great use of Quantum GIS. Being able to distribute this freely, with few restrictions and no cost, allowed everyone who wanted copies of the GI data, to view and manipulate it. This wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

I had a great time, due mainly to the leadership from Dr Jeffrey Fleisher and Dr. Stephanie Wynne-Jones. Hopefully I can return next field season in 2013, and I’m already looking forward to it.


View Songo Mnara in a larger map

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