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SANDX

SANDX

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We are Alice, Gerry, Angelica, Natacha, Caleb, Adrian, Rebecca and Daniela and together we are team SandX - looking for an innovative way to help the sand crisis to be known (and yes, sand is running out and we are going to help to prove it!).

Our aim is to collect data on the extraction of sand by creating an interactive map, using things like satellite images to videos, pictures and (news) stories. Join us on our journey to reach this ambitious goal through reading our continuously updated project journal here on SDGinProgress.

If you are still a bit sceptical about the whole sand as a problem thing or just curious about the topic check out this video (insert link to our platform...) OR read up on it here (insert link to UN Environment Article Anna and Rebecca wrote).

If you are a company interested in our project, please proceed reading Proposal 2 - SandX below. 

November 1, 2018 at 8:26 AM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
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Our first few project discussions thought of crowdsourcing as a cool, innovative way to get data close to the sand mining spots. We thought that involving locals and people tools could not only provide data, but also provide a humanizing glimpse into the adverse effects of sand mining. 

We sought experts since our group had no experience in crowdsourcing, luckily enough a couple worked just a few floors above our space, and agreed to meet and chat with us about it. 

Jose and Adhuhama, creators of crowd4ems.com and other crowdsourcing projects, gave us feedback on our ideas. They gave us a bunch of tools and spoke frankly about the practical value of crowdsourcing (the summary of which is above).

We walked away from that meeting with a lot to consider. The main ideas of which were -

The crowdsourcing approach we could adopt depends a lot on what sand extraction spots we were talking about.

Crowdsourcing is embedded in the politics of the situation at hand. Sand mining gets testy as supports the local economy, and its (lack of)governance could facilitate punishment of people who try to take pictures, whistle-blow, or take action against the operations of a particular sand mine....

However, there are organizations and civil society groups that find what sand mining does to the environment and society absolutely reprehensible; from destroying beaches and damaging local river ecosystems, to how and how it displaces people, homes and threatens people's safety.  These groups, including citizen journalists and affected peoples, would want to work with us to provide pictures, videos, data, etc, and make a promising group to reach out for.

Facebook, twitter #sandmining, and other news sites (coastalcare.org, sandstories.org) can shed light on the reality of the situation and provide grassroots contacts we need to gather data on the situation. 

Using AI (crowdAI) could be a useful tool to quickly and automatically analyze satellite images of hotspots to identify where hotspots are from a top-down perspective. A great case of AI sizing up landfills based on polygons drawn around the landfill sites drawn by researchers grounded this suggestion.

Satellite images will be important, and a great way to include crowdsourcing. They can help us identify hotspots and involve citizens and groups in the creation of data.

Anyways, it was a lot to bring back to the other half of the group. 

November 1, 2018 at 12:55 PM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
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While the first half was getting valuable knowledge on Crowd-sourcing, the second half of the group presented how our project was going to the class. We prepared an amazing video to present our group as "SANDX - Finding the X for Sand", a project dedicated to filling the data gap in sand extraction, how the infrastructure boom is fueling an insatiable hunger for sand, and how we need to make the impacts of said hunger visible to experts. The presentation ended with a final explanation of our project's logic,  goals and methods. 

(Thanks to Caleb's ingenuity, our group finally decided on a name. SandX!

The 'x' in SANDX stands for the perennial algebraic "what is x?". The variable expresses how little we all know about the sand crisis and our ultimate vision to 'solve for x' when it comes to sand crisis data.)

 

 

 

 

 

November 1, 2018 at 1:10 PM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
Comments (4)
I love your explanation for the name of the project. Kudos!!
9 days ago
I really love your project name. It is a perfect and very smart idea!
8 days ago
The name is genius! Catchy!
Love the video too.
4 days ago
Name and meaning of the project is AWESOME!
4 days ago

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What we are learning is that projects go through many iterations, and with every iteration our project comes a bit more into focus. A big part of iteration is pitching. Everyday workshop day we pitch our project at least two times to our peers, supervisors and people from outside. Their valuable insight always flows back into our next project discussions. 

November 2, 2018 at 11:26 AM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
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Natascha found a local construction company willing to invite us to tour their place. This will be a perfect time to ask questions and learn more about how construction companies see sand extraction.

It will also be a good time to discuss our project with the company and see their thoughts on our project. 

November 7, 2018 at 1:06 PM
Created by xiegerry0
Comments (3)
This is a very interesting and important way to measure the viability of the project. It is a test to see how real is the innovative solution you are creating.
8 days ago
Would you also ask them where they source their sand from? (or do you already know the answer to this?)
I think it'd be interesting to know where sand is sourced from (do the construction companies even know?) for construction purposes in Switzerland..

I would also ask if there is an awareness amongst the construction companies in Switzerland about the sand problem.
Furthermore, I wonder if they are aware of the alternatives and would be open to experiment with them (just thinking out loud..)

Exciting project! Can't wait to read more :)
4 days ago
Would love to read what happened with this.
Your interpretations about the meeting?
4 days ago

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Our first pitch to outsiders - namely the ITU - was a success, especially with the video. This means that our project already has the potential to generate buy-in right off the bat in a pitch situation. 

However, we received less feedback on our project itself.

November 7, 2018 at 1:08 PM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
Comments (2)
Awesome!! This is great to read!
9 days ago
For the pitches maybe you can keep shorter your video and talk little bit more. Even though it is a great video and I had so much fun watching fun, I would prefer little bit more talk on the project.
8 days ago

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To figure out how to best project and visualize the data we collect, we (adrian) discussed what geomapping tools best fit our needs. We also discussed with Davide F. and Charlotte, who are our supervisors and work in this field. We are having some issues, because our first choice (Google earth) is apperently not embedable in websites. The second choice is Google MyMaps, we discussed many but this seemed to be the best fit, since it's really easy to understand and handle. There is just one problem, Files can not exceed a certain size (5MB for .kml Files). We are still looking at alternatives including CesiumJS, OpenstreetMap, Mapbox, etc.

November 7, 2018 at 1:09 PM
Comments (1)
Data visualization is a fascinating topic. What were the geomapping tools you discussed? Did you do a pro/contra list?
9 days ago

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We need to provide initial data to our interactive map to locate sand mining zones. 

November 7, 2018 at 1:11 PM
Created by xiegerry0
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An important question that I was asked while surveying people on World Investment Forum was that there is a lot of sand in the ocean. What are the real impacts of the extraction of sand in deep waters? Maybe an image could be created (simulation) of the ecosystem conditions and the islands nearby and how it is affected by the extraction.
8 days ago
How the data will be collected? Do you think about a collaborative approach? Who would be the contributors and how the information will be verified?
4 days ago

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To identify hot-spots, we need to get a sense of what would make a sand mining zone a 'no-go' zone. Seeing as how tjere's no general, global or even regional consensus on which zones would be no go zones, we will review literature and cases on current no-go zones, especially of protected ecological or conservation zones, to see how these zones are classified. 

November 7, 2018 at 1:13 PM
Created by xiegerry0
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This step must have been difficult to tackle. What kinds of articles did you read? From the IUCN?
9 days ago
Maybe it would be interesting to contact Giulia Carbone from the roundtable. She seemed to be quite knowledgeable about this topic.
9 days ago
Good. You should research on the criteria adopted to decide protected areas at national level?
There also must be guidelines from IOs available.
I think you could also take into account social factors, as well as environmental, and maybe Mine the Gap could help you on this.
4 days ago

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We created a short video that explains why sand mining is reaching 'crisis' levels and how our project aims to bring data and awareness around the subject. 

November 7, 2018 at 1:14 PM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
Comments (2)
Great video!!! Amazing work!
9 days ago
It is an amazing video! It perfectly summarize your project
and immediately catches attention.
8 days ago

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To make sure the video flows well and connects with our intended audiences, Caleb has shown the video to our individual group members, our classmates, the workshop runners to first see how the video can be improved.

November 7, 2018 at 1:15 PM
Created by xiegerry0
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However, the end-of-day discussion two weeks into our project left our group with more questions than answers... After pitching our project realization struck that there were still many big questions to answer. It also turned out showing the impact of sand extraction and its environmental (and social) impacts on maps is difficult to show as not only is data scarce but sand can also disappear for entirely different reasons such as erosion or rise in sea level.

Also: What was our project really about? Our actual stake in it?
Were we not forward thinking enough? Who are we helping? What kinds of data do we need? 

Today we found answers to some of these important questions, and while we're still 'iterating' our project goals, ideas, tools and such, we're getting closer nailing down the tangible things we, as a group, need to start doing to realize our vision.

November 10, 2018 at 9:51 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
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We came with a first proposal and a working title name (A Shore Thing).
We would create:

An interactive map with a wide collection of data, from satellite images to ecosystem categorizations, to understand the global and local impact of construction sand extraction.

Questions to ask:

  • How we want to apply geoscience to gain data?
  • What is our timeline?
  • Who is this project for?

 

November 10, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
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Today, 01.11.18, after a thorough research and considering various variables such as available data, location, experts contacts, etc. we decided on two hotspots to focus our further analysis on best future practices in construction.

November 10, 2018 at 11:23 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
Comments (4)
This is a very intriguing decision that you made! What led you to choose these two locations? Are these locations extraction intensive? Do you already know if the datasets you'll use differ from one another and how to reconcile them? (this question is maybe too specific...)
9 days ago
I guess it would be nice for you to talk with people from the civil construction area, ask them about the viability of these best practices and the challenges to implement it.
8 days ago
It is a good idea to focus on less hotspots to understand the situation better. Is there a similarities between these hotspots? Do you think you will be able to receive data from these areas since sand mining community is very closed community with very limited sources.
8 days ago
For documentation purposes, you should explain further the decision of these two hotspots.
4 days ago

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Our new proposal reads:

SANDX - ‘Find the X for Sand’

Highlight “no-go” zones for sand extractions by creating an interactive map with a robust data set that consists of various sources, from satellite images to videos, pictures, and (news) stories that present future impacts of sand extraction on a local and global scale. The project aims to link these extractions sites to the infrastructure projects that demands their continued operation and help key stakeholders make informed decisions about the sand crisis at hand. 

November 10, 2018 at 11:24 AM
Comments (2)
I love this project proposal!!
It seems to me that you really go to the heart of the sand problem in terms of monitoring and measuring, which is lack of data that can be understood easily!!!

9 days ago
Who are the key stakeholders?
Which is the stakeholder that could use the data in the much proper way and also be interested in using the tool?
The main stakeholder should be the public institution responsible to give licenses for sand extraction and/or local governments regarding public procurement issues?
I would be more precise in describing the target groups and who is going to use the database, and take a positive adavantage from it.
4 days ago

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Natacha found a local construction company willing to invite us to tour their place. 

November 10, 2018 at 11:30 AM
Created by natacha and rebecca.jimenezb
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I know it is very hard to find but NGOs dealing with sand mining also can be useful for your data.
8 days ago

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We expanded our scope from Mekong Delta to include all of Vietnam. 

We realize that the situation of sand mining and its impacts in Vietnam would differ vastly from Switzerland, and how no-go zones, conservation zones, etc are defined and identified.

So we opted to take a more case study approach to Vietnam. We looked for international and national frameworks that govern nogo zone selection. 

November 10, 2018 at 11:30 AM
Created by xiegerry0 and rebecca.jimenezb
Comments (1)
Do you know if the sand extracted is from rivers or the sea? Is it used locally or is it transported elsewhere? I don't know anything about the region and would love to know more!

I know that you were interested in future infrastructure projects in your project proposal. Apparently, the Belt Road Initiative also touches the Mekong region. More info here: https://opendevelopmentmekong.net/tag/belt-and-road-initiative/ (I don't know if this website is reliable ...)
9 days ago

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Our theory of change is quite straightforward. By listing no-go zones we hope to change sand extraction companies' behaviors. Indeed we would be stressing how detrimental their practices can be on the environment by highlighting no-go zones, meaning zones that are environmentally vulnerable and that should be protected. As such, we are attempting to encourage policymakers as well as companies to move away from these sites and start implementing our best practices guideline. 

Our reasoning was inspired by the following article: https://www.theoryofchange.org/what-is-theory-of-change/

November 15, 2018 at 5:36 AM
Created by angel_zundel
Comments (1)
Main objective would be to turn "no-go zones" into real protected areas?
In this case you may need to talk more specifically about national institutions responsible for naming protecting areas and strategic NGOs and IOs who could put pressure in governments to name specific protected areas due to the sand crisis.
It may also be recommendable to label the level of endangered the area has. (Ex: Very High, High. In process to be high, stable, stabilizing, etc.)
4 days ago

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As we explain in our theory of change section, we hope that by highlighting no-go zones, we encourage the private sector as well as policymakers to act accordingly and implement best practices in respect to the environment. This entails, of course, a paradigm shift. We've all heard of the transition from a linear to a circular economy. This would entail thinking differently regarding the economy and the environment where the latter actually englobes the former and we strive for a sustainable way of life

November 15, 2018 at 7:25 AM
Created by angel_zundel
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Evidently, as we are in a SDG framework, our project applies to several of the sustainable development goals. Our objective intrinsically relates to the SDG 14 and 15 which, as a reminder, seek to preserve life on land and below water. SDG14 as a whole aims at “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” which our project strongly advocates for as the majority of sand extraction sites take place underwater and its impacts are devastating for the surrounding ecosystem. SDG 15, which can be defined as so: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”. The latter part of the SDG 15 is what pertains most to our project as we touch upon the preservation of land which contains sand and as a correlation the protection of biodiversity in that area. 

 

November 15, 2018 at 7:38 AM
Created by angel_zundel
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I would add SDG 11 since sand extraction is also extremely linked to the infrastructure we need to build cities, roads, etc
4 days ago

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In every project, idea, initiative, one has to set its monitoring criteria. One has to be realistic, that is why we have to set the following thresholds as a way to monitor our progress and success. 

As a first step to test our project, checking for availability, quantity, and quality of data is a good way to assess if it's worth going further. 

Secondly, once that has been verified, taking feedback from experts and organisations can be of great importance as they are our main target audience and can give us valuable advice. 

Our overall achievement in making our platform is also a form of monitoring progress and success of our project. This indicates the feasibility of the latter as well. 

Finally, even with everything in place, i.e. data and website, the message or story we try to convey can remain lost or ununderstood by our target audience which can lead to overall failure of the project. 

November 15, 2018 at 8:10 AM
Created by angel_zundel
Comments (1)
As mentioned in other coments, I iconsider other important actors as main target audience.
Are you sure companies are part of this main audience? This initiative wouldn't affect their freedom and inmunity regarding sand extraction, and may also therefore increase their costs or put pressure for additional regulation over them? If this is real, why would they use the platform and embrace it?
I would focus in the actors who could give the tool a good use and more important, would intereted in using it to implement policy.
4 days ago

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Over the last few weeks we have been contacting and connecting experts and company in the fields of sand, cartography, academics, geography, journalism, awareness, etc. to find data and to ask them for their opinion on the project.

November 16, 2018 at 4:16 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
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To achieve our project research and hard work is crucial and there are four main areas we need to become experts in: platform building, mapping, "no-go" zones, and our two hotspots Switzerland and Vietnam/Mekong Delta.

November 16, 2018 at 4:17 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
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November 16, 2018 at 4:22 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb and caleblean
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Visite de la Gravière des Délices – 15.11.2018

Alice and Natacha visited a land-extracting site based in Apples called la Gravière des Délices. We have learned a lot thanks to this experience particularly on the good and bad practices in Switzerland, including names of players we were unable to find online previously. We have made an incredible jump forward thanks to information we received. We’ve noted some information in bullet points below:

General Information:

  • A quarry like this one requires about two million investments in geological research before even knowing if there will be a possibility to exploit the site. This research takes about 10 years.
  • Each canton in Switzerland has its own regulations and constraints.
  • Followed by different offices, geologists 1 time per month
  • The quarry can be exploited for about 15-20 years and then the “living earth” is put back with plants so it starts becoming green again. There are no particular laws as to how this is done, but it requires a lot of research to do it well.
  • We also find a lot of sand in other mining actions such as petrol mining in Texas. Fracking, we do not know what to do with this sand and it is a catastrophe in Canada because they leave it there.
  • Ireland is the world leader in research and development of this fracked sand.
  • Every 6 months they calculate how much sand has been extracted because the agricultor is paid according to this. A Geometor bureau does this.
  • The industry is changing and slowly moving towards more recycled materials, but the norms have not yet followed and therefore the energy price remains very expensive.
  • For roads, we use rare rocks typically found in the Alps (morenes)

Good practices:

  • According to the law in the Canton de Vaux (DGE), 70% of sand transportation has to be done by train. This requires further investment to make the train come all the way to the site. They do not have the CO2 numbers but they know they are about 10 times less polluting than a company using trucks as a mode of transportation. Sites which do use trucks refuse to give their CO2 calculations.
  • They recycle 99% of their water, making them use about 10’000 cubic liters of water per year in a closed cycle, which is nothing compared to other sites (1 million cubic liters on average)
  • They have kept their water zones as to not disturb the birds and ducks, which are still landing there today.
  • They use sheeps to regulate the grass height.
  • First start with a layer of mud, than with waste from another extraction site (construction for example), and finish with the living earth that was put aside when you first started digging. 4 years after the end of the works of the quarry, the land can be given back for agriculture.
  • The impact in terms of surface is very limited so it is homogenous with the sights of the people living close by, which by default oppose to these types of projects.

November 16, 2018 at 4:46 AM
Created by natacha
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November 16, 2018 at 7:37 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
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Where does the demand for sand come from?

By plotting local infrastructure demands, we can reasonably map out what the demand for sand. Sand is probably being injected here. 

Just as significant is mapping the potential spots the project may source sand from.

November 16, 2018 at 8:17 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb and xiegerry0
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To figure out which sand extraction sites should not be mined from, we are first finding coordinates for vulnerable zones, communities, and conservation sites in Vietnam.

November 16, 2018 at 8:17 AM
Created by xiegerry0
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Would a Google Earth video help explain how the map works?

November 16, 2018 at 8:51 AM
Created by rebecca.jimenezb
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