I’m going to change the world, in my own small way.
A big statement, perhaps, but in a world where I can see so many things that need changing, it’s the right idea. I’ve been very fortunate to have had access to a great education in the UK, studying at the University of Exeter, and I want to use that privilege to make a difference elsewhere. There will always be people who want to use their degree to be GIS analysts, surveyors and academics, but not enough people use their qualifications (and their access to a good education) to a use that could truly benefit others. That’s what I’m aiming to do.
This inevitably means that I’ll eventually end up heading down the international development rabbit hole, a career path I hadn’t necessarily wanted to tread initially. In the mean time, I’m more interested in how new and innovative technologies can make a difference in real-terms in the context of development, humanitarianism and disaster risk. Having used drones extensively for my dissertation, I’m fully convinced of their capabilities in this area, with increasing use by emergency organisations and major humanitarian organisations too. They aren’t pushing the envelope, however, relying on merely following what has already been tried by others, and thus they aren’t capitalising on their potential yet to the fullest extent.
The real flag carriers in this field are the likes of WeRobotics, led by Patrick Meier, who are developing a wide network of ‘flying labs’ in developing countries across the world. These flying labs are truly pushing the envelope, delivering anti-venom and other medical supplies by drone across the Amazon, carrying out some fantastic surveys in Nepal and even attempting to map all of Zanzibar by drone. I see this kind of disruptive technology as a really valuable field to be a part of, at least in the short term. One great project that has inspired me was something I came across in undergrad, going by the name ‘Remap Lima‘. An awesome, large-scale participatory mapping project involving a Sensefly Ebee, UCL, Drone Adventures (another organisation I greatly admire) and multiple local stakeholders in order to map parts of Lima in a new and innovative manner. But for some reason, there has been little follow-up to it, yet there is just so much potential for this kind of project. I’d like to roll out a similar project in some of sub-saharan Africa’s poorest areas, effectively mapping informal communities so that they may have more agency in decisions about their area, so that disaster risks can be identified and so that better development decisions can be made. All of this is highly feasible and could make a big difference.
Until then, I have to be very busy earning money in order to do a top-end Masters course so that I can take my skills to the next level. That’s a little while off, though, so I’m firmly keeping my options open. I have some job interviews coming up just before graduation, and will hopefully have a place on an International Citizen’s Service project in West Africa between October and December.
Anyway, that’s me! In the past few years I’ve led two research expeditions to Malaysia, organised an international academic conference and even stood for election as a Liberal Democrat. It’s been a very good few years, but now I’m ready to move on and put my skills to the test.
In my spare time I greatly enjoy the outdoors, being a skilled naturalist and occasional ecologist, as well as playing cricket. A keen interest of mine is the region of Central Africa, in particular the recent geopolitical developmnets in the region, and thus I’m quite proud of the bookshelf I’ve managed to build. In any case, I can usually be found with camera in hand, somewhere out in the wild.