Aug 012012

In 2009 Brian Kuns with Stocholm University wrote a memo titled “Towards an Inventory of Historical Aerial Photos of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda”. The memo represents a preliminary overview of archival resources containing historical aerial photographs of East Africa.

I have taken a look at the memo and in this article I will try to focus on any Tanzanian sources of data in most part using Kuns memo. I will also throw in some reflections of my own on historical aerial photographs and what lies ahead of us. Aerial imagery is the basis for mapping, animal counts, agricultural planning/management, military surveilance and much more. The ideal imagery contains enough information for them to be georeferenced. This makes it possible to use them as a basis for comparison with more recent imagery. Other may only represent glimpses into the past life and nature of Tanzania.

Kuns memo is a 7 page document, but it still representsn an interesting and inspiring read. As I read questions popped up. Who had reason to take aerial photos in Tanzania? Which areas did they cover? When did they do it and why? While trying to answer some of these questions it is evident that he is but scratching the surface of something which needs more research. As he himself concludes more work is needed.

According to Kuns national institutions with archives of aerial photos are:

  • Department of Surveys and Mapping
  • Tanzania National Archives
  • Institute of Resource Asessments (IRA)
  • The National Museum
  • Maelzo (National Information office for Dar es Salaam)

International sources are more sketchy, but the following sources are mentioned as relevant:

  • The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum (1.352 boxes of imagery from 1947 to 1978)
  • Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House
  • The Royal geographic Society (RGS)
  • The aerial Reconnaisance Archives, Scotland

For complete links to the above sources I recommend you take a look at the original document linked up below:

Aerial imagery has up until quite recently only been available by aeroplanes. We are however seeing that DIY drones with autonomous control equipped with cameras may be usefull for mapping and other “domestic” uses. One such tool is produced by Event38:

Only the future will tell which place the drones will have in Tanzanian GIS. But it is clear that aerial imagery is soon becoming a tool which will be available for more of us all at a lower cost.

Slightly off topic I wold like to round off with a link to Ben Wilhelmi’s webpage. In a recent book offers a aerial photography with a more personal and artistic perspective. Read more about it by following the link below:

  One Response to “Historical aerial photos/imagery in Tanzania”

  1. […] available in a central repository for OpenStreetMap or other use (misplaced imagery is a problem: […]

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