The Challenge | The Land Where Displaced People Settle

Characterize land cover/land use at informal settlements of displaced populations using NASA satellite datasets.


The proyect DisplaceMin is meant to use NASA MODIS and VIIRS satellite data in order to provide useful information and insights to the displace population , this kind of information includes data on areas with close proximity to resources.


Every year natural disasters kill around 90 000 people and affect close to 160 million people worldwide. Natural disasters include earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, heat waves and droughts. They have an immediate impact on human lives and often result in the destruction of the physical, biological and social environment of the affected people, thereby having a longer-term impact on their health, well-being and survival.


The team deseign software based on the RESTful web service API to request MODIS and VIIRS land information products , the software recolects the .json files, it filters and clasiffy the bands in order to only recieve the data that would be of relevance in the context of the issue that was describe. The bands were discriminated based on the observation of the correlation of changes between certain bands data and known people displacement events, in known locations and time by visually analysing the .tiff band files.

After collecting the data, some this data was fed to a k-means algorithm in order to find centroids that woulds minimize the distance between "potentially useful settlement lands" and resources such as water.

Finally the data was introduced to other algorithm in order to make it easier to visualize.

The team also designed 1 items that could potentially be used in case of an event that would force people to displace, this item takes advantage of the data previously processed and contribute to the welfare of the displaced individual, the item is a computer in the form of a suitcase that is equipped with solar panels, batteries and as previosly mentioned it can take advantage of the data that was processed by showing the individuals affected the potentially useful location areas and facilitating comunications between them and the corresponding authorities or organization.

Suitcase Economic Aspect

The suitcase is able to stablish communication with other informal refugees that have a suitcase and let them trade between all the connected settlements, with that approach we not only ensure that the settlements will increase their survivability by giving them indepence in keeping their own stockpile of resource, this will help when the region becomes a hotspot for organizations.

Resources used:

Fusion 360

Python 3.7

Microsoft Visual Studio Code

QGIS 3.2.3



RESTful web service API

MCD12Q1 and MCD15A2H products

displacement data from:

disaster event data:



SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.