Map of South Africa with points representing each image generated.

Points with images generated.

About Aerial Mzansi

Luis de Sousa created Aerial Mzansi. The source code for the project can be found here.

Every 4 hours, a new image is automatically uploaded to the website.


1. Art!

The twitter account Textures of Utah initially inspired me. I found there was a whole mapbotverse with similar implementations for different countries. Matt Dray started the mapbotverse with the londonmapbot project.

I live in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, where space is considered a premium. While generating images of the South African landscape, I realised how sparsely populated the country is.

2. Using new technologies

I’ve implemented the mapbot concept using technologies that I wanted to learn more about:

  1. Github Actions – Automate the whole build and deploy process to Github pages.

  2. AzureStor – After generating the images, they are stored in an Azure blob.

  3. Quarto – Creating a website with dynamic content.

  4. Quarto Addins – Lightbox, to create lightbox treatments for images in HTML documents.

  5. Shiny – build interactive web apps straight from R.

3. Working in public

From Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work!

  1. Process -> Progress.

  2. Sharing > Self-promotion.

  3. Share <> Learn. Building an audience for what you do creates a valuable feedback loop.

Special Thanks

A popular African proverb is, “It takes a village to raise a child”, which holds in my case. There are too many people to mention individually.I want to thank everyone with whom I’ve discussed Areal Mzansi with and all the open-source authors whose projects I’ve built it on top of.