An ISPRS Education and Capacity Building Initiative (2020)

In accordance with the statutory mission and activities of ISPRS (the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing), the Society shall provide funds to support scientific and other initiatives, which will further improve its international status in the field of the photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences, and will therefore benefit all ISPRS members. For 2020, the UP4DREAM project was selected and approved by the Council for funding.


Project outline

UP4DREAM (UAV Photogrammetry for Developing Resilience and Educational Activities in Malawi) is a cooperative project between the Polytechnic University of Turin (PI) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Malawi (Co-Is), with the support of Agisoft LLC (for the use of their photogrammetry and computer vision software suite).

Malawi is a flood-prone landlocked country constantly facing natural and health challenges, which prevent from sustainable socio-economic development of the country. Frequent naturals shocks leave vulnerable communities food-insecure. Moreover, Malawi suffers from high rates of HIV/Aids as well as it has endemic of Malaria. UNICEF Malawi, in partnership with The Government of Malawi, was the first UNICEF office in the world to establish a segregated air space, which would serve as a sandbox for drone manufacturers, service companies, academia and other entities to test their drones in a real-life humanitarian and development cooperation context.

The UP4DREAM project focuses on one of the key priorities of drone project in Malawi (Imagery), and has the ambitious aim of starting a capacity building initiative, in order to become one of the biggest mapping mission in developing Countries, focusing on the realization and management of cartography at a big scale and high level of detail (using GIS – Geographic Information Systems) and on the generation of 3D products based on the UAV-acquired data. The principal aim of UP4DREAM is to ensure that local institutions, universities, researchers, and service companies and manufacturers operating in the drone area (that will be defined, according to the UNICEF project, as “the corridor”)  will have the right knowledge and understanding of the photogrammetry and spatial information best practices, in order to perform big-scale aerial data acquisition, processing, share and manage in the most efficient, cost-effective and scientifically-rigorous way.

The Principal Investigator and the Co-Investigators will act developing capacity building strategies and tools in the field of UAV photogrammetry data acquisition, processing and analysis, in order to ensure that the partners will receive an active and constant education and training, on-site and remotely; the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Mzuzu University will be involved in the in the project, to benefit from the scientific expertise and technical capacities of Polytechnic University of Turin, and from the long-term collaboration with UNICEF through the operational and technical support of its structures and staff.

The project will last one year and, following mainly aims oriented to education and applied research, is based on both technology transfer aspects and on capacity building approach, and it is composed of 6 main phases: test of procedure and practices, training of local partners, acquisition of aerial data, processing with a photogrammetric approach, analysis of the processed data, results management and sharing. The expected outcomes of the project are: updating the aerial maps of Malawi, developing capacity building activities, creating a GIS for data visualization management, encouraging the use of open data policy, enhance early warning and improve emergency preparedness, increase the impact of the humanitarian effort and defining standards and guidelines for further development actions.

UP4DREAM is a truly innovative idea which has the potential to scale through various high-profile partners and create a tangible, positive impact in Malawi and, more widely, will contribute to the betterment of the Malawian population.

Project phases


« The first part of the test activities…»


« Technical training of local operators…»

Data acquisition

« This phase concerns large-scale data…»


« Data sharing will be conducted under…»


« Processing of the data will happen…»


« Last part of the project will be…»

About us

Filiberto Chiabrando, Politecnico di Torino, Italy

Co-Is: Alessio Calantropio, Politecnico di Torino, Italy
Andrea Maria Lingua, Politecnico di Torino, Italy; 
Mavuto Denis Tembo, Mzuzu University, Malawi;
Daud Jones Kachamba, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi;
Tautvydas Juskauskas, Drones Lead at UNICEF Malawi, Malawi;
Rochelle H. Holm, Mzuzu University, Malawi;
Brighton Austin Chunga, Mzuzu University, Malawi

Progress report

First report of the 2020 ISPRS Educational and Capacity Initiatives

From the 23rd of February to the 5th of March a delegation from the Department of Architecture and Design (Filiberto Chiabrando and Alessio Calantropio) and the Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering (Andrea Lingua and Paolo Maschio) have been to Malawi for the first phase of the UP4DREAM Project. The experience was shared with colleagues from the Amazon’s disaster relief and response team, with the purpose of identify areas of collaboration with Amazon and Politecnico in the framework of this project. Below is a brief summary of the activities, the outcome and the next steps for the initiative.

It was a great time. Almost perfect

I like that the lecturers took us step by step and kept us on the same pace. They had rapid response for support and engaged us a briefing of what we were trying to achieve but a day was not enough. I believe if they taught us for 3 to 4 days we could have learnt a lot from them.