I presume most people want to donate their time and expertise to worthy causes. I do, too. But it’s difficult to find blocks of time within a busy and ever-changing schedule, so for years I failed to do much volunteering. Then I discovered Tomnod.
Tomnod is a website sponsored by DigitalGlobe to help others by analyzing satellite images. In their own words:
Tomnod is a team of volunteers (like you!) who work together to identify important objects and interesting places in satellite images. Use Tomnod to explore the Earth, solve real-world problems, and view amazing images of our changing planet. With the help of millions of volunteer contributions, we fulfill our purpose of seeing a better world.
The cool thing for me about Tomnod is that I can use my downtime to volunteer almost anytime anywhere, given a high speed internet connection. Over the past years I’ve helped look for Malaysia Airlines flight 370, sought elephant poachers in Garamba, mapped remote Asian villages, and helped organize disaster relief for cyclone and earthquake victims.
My latest effort has been helping with illegal burning in Indonesia. I spend most of my time in Singapore, and the forest fires are having a horrible effect on the air quality there.
The mission is simple:
The number of fires burning across Indonesia the past couple weeks spiked past historic highs, causing a thick haze of toxic smoke to envelop major cities within Indonesia and those of neighboring countries. Help Global Forest Watch map fires across Indonesia by searching satellite imagery and tagging every fire and burn scar you find.
So if you are looking to volunteer, but never can find a block of time big enough to actually do something, give Tomnod a try. As of this writing, I’ve explored over 70,000 map tiles and tagged 5,000 fires and burn scars. Can you do better?