Early in the morning on August 14, 2017, after three days of torrential rainfall, devastating floods and mudslides occurred in and around Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown.
As of August 20, the number of confirmed deaths is 499; hundreds of others are missing and feared dead. More than 3,000 people have been left homeless and hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed by the mudslides. Since the unfortunate incident Sierra Leone has received support from all around the world including from Founder, Tony O. Elumelu CON who visited and donated to the Government and people. Several international and local organizations and individuals have been directly involved in the initial recovery efforts, and the international community has also been supplying aid. One of the organisations directly involved in recovery efforts is Track Your build founded by TEF Entrepreneur (2015) Edmond Nonie.
Track Your Build was set up to provide a service that will make construction projects transparent and protect clients from theft. Using technology enables mapping and building construction to be monitored remotely from anywhere in the world. This is a combination of geo-referenced drone mapping/surveying of land, drone image and video capture of construction progress and a project management cloud where these images, inventory and finance data can be accessed.
Since the unfortunate incidence in Sierra Leone, Track Your Build has been involved in Crisis Mapping by drone mapping, surveillance of crisis or danger zones for use in risk assessment, search and rescue and post-crisis analysis Edmond says “When the disaster struck on the 14th of August it occurred to me that the response effort may need rapid access to aerial data in order to access immediate threat to communities, quick assessment of the impact of the land slide, quick assessment of other land slide sites and measurements of all of the sites for the purpose of post-incident analysis so the technical team can ascertain why this happened.
Edmond and his team joined the World Food Programme at the main crisis point which at the onset of the crisis was the U.N. agency coordinating the response effort. “We setup our operations at the command center and began immediately to fly our drones taking imagery, DGPS, distance and height measurements of the main mudslide. At the end of Day 1 we were invited to attend the U.N. Country Team coordination meeting with all of the heads of the U.N. agencies in the country, at this meeting our team was reassigned to UNOPS as UNOPS was charged with leading the Engineering and Mapping response to the crisis. Coincidental we already had an ongoing mapping and surveying contract with UNOPS so we already knew the team and working under their lead was seamless.
Providing the services for this flood response was really humbling and it also forced us to push our existing equipment and skill set far beyond our threshold that we were operating at. The team has learned and improved a lot because of this. It’s also been humbling to see firsthand the extent of the crisis and realize that no matter how small what you may do seems, if you make yourself available in the right way you can make a difference to people’s lives.”
For about 2 weeks since the crisis Track Your Build has mapped 14 different sites where land slip events occurred in the capital city Freetown including several missions on Mt Sugarloaf which had the most dangerous and deadly event.
Beyond the recovery efforts, Edmond and his current staff of 4 permanent staff with a larger group of 15 consultant engineers offer specific professional services for a project. ”We have been involved in series of mapping across Sierra Leone. Our current contract with UNOPS to map 50 villages across Sierra Leone will enable UNOPS to plan and install solar mini grids in these villages. For most of these for to reach locations it will be the first time they have utility level electricity.
Within Freetown we are conducting land surveying for private clients looking to purchase land. To enhance this service we have partnered with a legal firm who for a fee will conduct due diligence on the parcel and advise the client if there is any legal dispute on the land and in light of recent events we have also partnered with an environmental assessment firm to advise clients as to the environmental risk of purchasing that parcel.
Sierra Leoneans living overseas have the potential to be a strong client base for the construction industry; unfortunately, the lack of a reliable platform has hampered people’s ability to construct back home. TYB will create additional flow of forex into the country for these construction projects, more technical and vocational jobs for our unemployed youths and more income for industries around construction projects such as catering, haulage, logistics and building material retail.”
Edmond says he owes a lot of what he is doing to the opportunity to be on the TEF programme. “The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme trained a streak of resilience and confidence in me where I am confident that there is no challenge to large for me to develop a solution for and no matter what problems come my way there is a way around it, whether the answer lies in my organization or it lies in developing a partnership with another organization that is better positioned to handle an aspect of the business. The programme was a world class mentoring experience and I am sure it will shape my entrepreneurial career for decades to come.”
TYB is setting plans for expansion as it is currently working on training programs for drone pilots, data analysts and junior engineers. These individuals will grow within the ranks of the organization over the next decade as they expand service offerings and degree of complexity of the work. The standardization of operations Edmond says means that rolling out the company in other West African countries will be a matter of securing an established engineering firm willing to franchise the TYB brand and working with this partner to understand our documents and how we expect them to run their chapter of the business.