Tag Archives: GIS

Ecuador ICT4D Resources

1. ICT Policy layout written in 2007 in English by Valerie Betancourt from GIS. Note: This is an analysis and lay out the policy, the White Paper, but I am unable to find an online link of this specific document in Spanish or English. The White Paper Was written by CONATEL in 2006.

2. CONATEL and SENATEL wrote the White Paper in collaboration with each other.

3. Case Study: Conserving Ecuador’s Mangroves with ICT’s, project by C-CONDEM, and the project has already gone through a phases and is currently in independent continuation with GIS.

4. GIS analysis of policy (linked above), ITU’s National e-Strategies for Development Global Status and Perspectives Report 2010

5. There were certain thing that were pretty easy to find for Ecuador, but this was mostly broad statistics and information. My biggest struggle, however, was not necessarily finding information, but finding current information. I really did not find much after the year of 2007 or 2008, making it difficult to evaluate the current ICT situation of the country.

Ethiopia ICT4D Resources

1) Finding a comprehensive source for Ethiopia’s national ICT policy and strategies can be difficult. This link is to the government’s policy, as published by Ministry of Communication and Technology (MCIT):


There is a pdf attachment for the policy, but the link does not work. On the top right corner, one may access the website in English, Amharic, or Afaan Oromo.

Here is another government report:

Click to access CSTD_2013_WSIS_Ethiopia.pdf

2) Here is a link to the MCIT website. It is fairly comprehensive, a lists all of Ethiopia’s sector development strategies. It also links to specific resources for businesses, government, and citizens to facilitate partnerships.


3) This is a link to a pdf of a case study of Ethiopia’s SchoolNet project. As a student dissertation it is fairly comprehensive. I have also attached an infodev report on ICT in Education in Ethiopia.

Click to access ICTs_for_Development_in_Ethiopia_A_Case_of_the_SchoolNet_Project_EN.pdf

Click to access InfodevDocuments_402.pdf

4) Finally, here are some relevant links that review national ICT. The EFOSSNET report is especially useful and does well to describe Ethiopia’s successes and shortcomings in regards to a wide range of ICT strategies.

Click to access Ethiopia.pdf



Learning about GIS for Development

Over the past semester this course has taught me a great deal about ICT4D theories, concepts and frameworks, as well as showed me various avenues of work for development professionals. GIS for development is the topic that has piqued my interest the most as I have never thought about the endless uses for GIS before this course. I have always just considered GIS to be used in order to give directions and locations, so listening to Robert Banick and Stephen Ward, as well as reading the additional reports, has opened my eyes to the world of GIS. While GIS is starting to become a major tool for international development, I think its ability and uses are still very much undervalued.

During this course I have learned that GIS is being used in applications such as Ushahidi to map areas of land cover and land usage, areas of social/political conflict, roads, populated areas, health clinics, and distribution of emergency aid and relief. We have talked about specific applications such as using GIS during the Haitian earthquake, the Pakistani floods, the Malaysian Airplane crash etc.; however, I think GIS will continue to grow and develop to where we can continue to layer different variables to actually enable all of a development project’s details to be visible on a single map. Instead of simply mapping the location of disaster relief, GIS will enable workers to map the location of disaster relief, as well as the affected area, the most populated areas, etc. GIS can show real-time maps and in the future I think most development projects will use GIS to help oversee and organize the projects. We have also discussed reasons for ICT4D project failures, including not looking at the whole system, not understanding infrastructure capacity, and creating projects not relevant to the local context. GIS could be a useful tool to help prevent ICT4D failures as it can be used as a reference to learn about the target area and the system as a whole in the past and present, and may also be able to map the rate of project success in the target area.

Over the summer I will be interning in D.C. and helping professionals work on the NEPAnode, which is a program recently launched by the DOE using FOSS to organize and collect data on environmental programs . I am very excited to witness the development of these GIS programs, as I hope to work in this field in the future and continue to help improve future development projects.

Crowd-sourcing in ICT4D

Dr. Stephen Ward’s lecture to our class on the importance of crowd-sourcing really opened my eyes to ways the technology could be used in ICT4D. While in the western world crowd-sourcing has been used to improve websites but also provide controversial marketing information to advertising agencies and corporations, the concept as a whole was repurposed by “DigitalGlobe”, which uses GIS and satellite imaging technologies, to launch their crowd-sourcing platform “Tomnod” in an effort to assist locating the lost Malaysian plane in early March. Developments in crowd sourcing and GIS satellite technologies opened up the information source to thousands of users who were able to provide up to date information on the whereabouts of the plane. Applying crowd-sourcing to other endeavors in ICT4D to provide up to date and accessible information to those in the developing world on their surroundings could be endlessly useful in the coming years not only in disaster prevention but also in instituting projects who’s success depends on the nature of the landscape. DigitalGlobe’s five high-resolution imaging satellites were able to capture more than 3 million square kilometers of earth imagery each day, providing an incredible volume of imagery that would have been overwhelming were it not for the “Tomnod” crowdsourcing mechanism. The efforts of millions of online volunteers around the world helped DigitalGlobe rule of some of the major oceanic areas in order to hone in on more likely locations, leading to a more efficient search process.

Is Crowdsourcing the Next Solution?

Before this semester, I was familiar with crowdsourcing only in the context of consumer behaviour, using it to search for the best restaurants, hotels, etc. It was not until Dr. Stephen Ward spoke to our class that I realized the endless broad and diverse applications of crowdsourcing using available GIS and satellite imagery of the Earth. Dr. Ward discussed how DigitalGlobe launched their crowdsourcing platform Tomnod on March 11th in order to increase efforts to find the missing Malaysian plane. Using Tomnod, over 25,000 people have been able to scan satellite imagery and tag highly important areas, which are then run through algorithms to sift out all irrelevant information. Within a couple days, Tomnod uploaded over 1,235 square miles of high-resolution satellite imagery of the Gulf of Thailand, making me question how, even with crowdsourcing, we would be able to efficiently sort through the massive amounts of data to find the important details. Although computers use complex algorithms to determine what is noise and what is most likely relevant, I cannot help question the reliability and efficiency of this process.

According to The Stream Official Blog, some users, reported coordinates for interesting objects, such as an outline of what appeared to be a plane underwater, and oil slicks and metal/plastic debris. However, several people are skeptical about the practicality of using crowdsourcing to find the plane, as the plane probably will not resemble a plane any longer and the lack of visibility of debris due to the limited resolution of the satellite. What prevents people from tagging every rock or garbage they see? Also, how are we certain that the algorithms don’t discard any relevant information?

Over the past five years the developments in crowdsourcing has enabled it to be applied to several disciplines, such as science, international development, and security. It has been used to find missing people, determine future famines, highlight current conflict areas, and supply information that would otherwise go unknown. That being said, I fear we still lack the scientific capacity to rely as heavily as we have been on GIS and crowdsourcing. We cannot significantly reduce ground searches and ground operations until we successfully use GIS and crowdsourcing several more times. In the future, I think GIS and crowdsourcing will alter the development sector; however, we must continue to develop innovative ways to more efficiently and accurately deal with the influx of data before we rely on this method.

Online Search Party: the Novice Hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

On Thursday, our class had the distinct pleasure of hearing a guest lecture from Robert Banick, a GIS coordinator at the American Red Cross, by way of Skype. According to Robert’s twitter , his work entails “Making maps with stuff, responding to disasters and everything in between.” Needless to say, his perspective was rather interesting and presented us with a good idea of just how important Geographic Information Systems are, even though they are often overlooked.

While demand for mappers like Robert is often contingent on natural disasters, similar disciplines are being employed at this very moment in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. For those of you who don’t know much about the current situation, last Friday, a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China vanished from radar communication somewhere over either the Indian or Pacific Oceans. It is unclear where/when/why the plane went down. However, experts are now saying that the flight most likely veered West from its usual flight-path and put the plane down in the Indian Ocean. Without the recovery of the plane’s transponder, they can’t narrow the search area by very much. Therefore, there is a lot of ocean to cover in the search and that is very time- and energy-consuming.

However, experts are encouraging civilians, with no prior experience necessary, to join in the search. This crowdsourcing approach makes use of the website Tomnod.com. Tomnod is a software run by commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe, which repositioned two of its satellites over the area when this issue came about. Tomnod users are provided with a randomly chosen map from the search area and are told to drop a pin if they see signs of wreckage, life rafts, oil slicks or anything else that looks “suspicious.” An algorithm then finds where there is overlap in tags from people who tagged the same location, and the most notable areas are shared with authorities. Many people are calling this program a sort of “online search party.” While the results are so far inconclusive, that is no reason to be discouraged, as authorities are doing no better in solving the mystery. Like Robert Banick, Tomnod played an important role in the efforts around Typhoon Haiyan as well.

According to a Tomnod spokesperson, as of Thursday, every pixel had been looked at by human eyes at least 30 times. Although nothing significant has turned up yet, this is incredible progress in the search and saves authorities from a lot of redundancy. In short, this is a very current and real-life example of just how valuable GIS is in these situations. Without satellite imagery and a collective, off-site effort, it would take search and rescue teams weeks or months to cover the area that is covered by the online community in just a few days.


I wasn’t familiar with OpenStreetMap before yesterday’s Skype session with Robert Banick. If you haven’t heard of it either, I highly recommend checking it out. After his lecture and our discussion, I looked up a little more on OpenStreetMap and I found this case study written by Steve Chilton. He points out the need for instant information, especially during disaster situations. Chilton even uses Hurricane Katrina as an example, stating that it serves as the perfect example of how not up-to-date maps may have a severe effect on how crises are handled. He specifically points out a problem the Red Cross had with Google Maps after the storm because they had no idea of the state of US 90 bridge. Only locals would have been able to share information like that, and a crowd sourcing map could have been the solution.

This example got me thinking as to how this platform could not only affect our city of New Orleans, but also the large effect it could have on the developing world. The really interesting aspect to this concept is the immediacy that new information can be uploaded to the maps. Chilton talks about how OpenStreetMap was able to map Gaza during and following the Israeli/Gaza conflict by compiling various resources and applying them to OpenStreetMap.

I think we will see much more of OpenStreetMap in the future, and if you want to learn more you can click here!

Real First World Problems: Forgetting the Need for Mapping

We had the privilege of hearing directly from Robert Banick, the GIS coordinator at the American Red Cross HQ in Washington D.C., as a guest speaker for our ICT4D class period. What struck me about his presentation was the sheer importance of mapping. We tend to take this for granted living in a country where we can map pretty much anything down to a micro-image. We know almost every store, home or business along the way. This is clearly not the case for most of the world. As Banick said, “We take for granted that in the US we can see a map of any city and all the buildings but that isn’t a reality in most of the rest of the world”.

This has a profound impact on how organizations and individuals can address development needs across the globe. It even impacts how you handle a day-to-day emergency. In the US we take for granted how prepared fire departments are in response to emergencies. They know the quickest routes and how to get in and out with limited chaos. This isn’t the case for towns like Lira in Northern Uganda where buildings are huddled close to one another and mapping failed to provide easy routes for addressing fires adequately and timely. If there isn’t mapping, there might not even be general knowledge of which building is on fire. This is a simple thing that we forget. This is exactly where we see “first world problems”. It isn’t in our joking memes about not getting to check status updates, but the lack of understanding of what basic things like mapping have provided our society.

The current scandal regarding the missing Malaysian plane brought much of this to my attention. We live in a society that has gotten so accustomed to knowing where everything is a moments notice. Although this particular example involves things outside of mapping, it still addresses this mentality. It sometimes takes extraneous cases to rattle us and remind us that knowing everything’s location and whereabouts is a luxury, not a norm.

Mapping 4 Development: Resources

Mapping technologies have been incorporated into the development field to provide practitioners with rigorous spatial analysis of complex issues across the globe. In order for practitioners to take full advantage of mapping technologies, it is imperative for them to learn about the potential uses of such technologies. Many international organizations and academic departments have compiled a large amount of resources for individuals with interest in mapping for development. Below you will find a list of projects, handbooks, and links that will provide you with more information about the mapping landscape in international development,

GIS @ Tufts – Tufts University

This site contains a comprehensive list of examples of GIS and research sites for international development and examples of GIS for humanitarian relief.

Good Practices in Participatory Mapping – IFAD

This handbook provides a framework to develop participatory mapping strategies. It also explores major issues that arise through participatory mapping and provides ways in which those issues can be addressed.

How to Use Maps to Raise Awareness – The Guardian

This article provides a quick review of different ways in which mapping technologies can be use to raise awareness about a particular issue or set of issues.

International Human Development Indicators – UNDP

This is a visual representation of the Human Development Report’s data by country. It also includes the Multidimensional Poverty Index, the Gender Inequality Index, and the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Indicator.

Maps and Mapping Resources – California State University

This site contains a list of resources and maps pertaining to historical events, demographics, environmental issues, geological maps, and the weather.

Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development

The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) was established in Nairobi – Kenya in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), today African Union (AU). RCMRD is an inter-governmental organization and currently has 19 Contracting Member States in the Eastern and Southern Africa Regions; Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Source: www.rcmrd.org

The e-Atlas of Global Development – The World Bank

The atlas provides a comprehensive visual overview of the world’s most pressing social challenges and its people.

The WFP and GIS

The World Food Programme or WFP is the branch of the UN associated with food aid. It is currently the largest humanitarian organization focusing on ending world hunger, by delivering food aid to people who, for a variety of reasons, cannot obtain their own food. They provide food to over 90 million people annually, over half of whom are children.

The WFP is not a stranger to using GIS systems for aid initiatives. The organizations Operation Department of Emergency Preparedness, or ODEP for short, considers GIS “an invaluable tool for both the mitigation of natural disaster and the coordination of response operations.” according to Adrea Amparore ODEP’s GIS analyst.

ODEP uses GIS technology to create a better picture of the dangers among people living in disaster prone areas. They analyze a variety of factors including historical occurrences of disasters, food security/insecurity, famine and hunger, and environmental degradation. Growing seasons and crop production are also monitored by satellite images to help the ODEP identify when times of decreased production/low crop yields etc. This ongoing monitoring and analysis enables the WFP to be able to intervene to prevent/lessen disasters when needed.

The WFP is constantly monitoring the four stages of the “disaster cycle,” and does this with the help of GIS’s. The four steps as stated by Aparore and the way GIS’s are used throughout are:

  1. Prevention: “includes the evaluation of man-made features, such as dams and levees, to make sure they can withstand rising floodwater, as well as determining the structural integrity of buildings, the reseeding of hillsides after deforestation to reduce mudslides, the evaluation of building codes and land-use zones to make sure they meet current safety standards, instigating community awareness campaigns to help residents better prepare themselves in the event of a disaster, and so on.”
    GIS’s are used in this step to aid in the planning of projects/interventions, data collection and review, and implementation of these interventions.
  2. Preparedness: Preparedness includes risk identification and assessment; the development and maintenance of emergency communication services; stockpiling essential food supplies, water, and medicine; and the establishment of evacuation routes.
    GIS’s are used in this stage to evaluate risks, determining the best places for emergency food stores in accordance with evacuation plans and coming up with the most efficient and safe evacuation plans.
  3. Response: The response step is pretty self explanatory, it is the actual actions taken in the event of a disaster.
    GIS’s are used in this step to predict the ongoing effects of the disaster and how it will develop, monitoring human movements and interventions, tracking the efficiency of these interventions, and allotting resources.
  4. Recovery: This step includes the establishment of temporary relief and assessing the destruction followed by repairing and rebuilding.
    GIS’s are used in this step to increasing efficiency in aid distribution. More specifically prioritizing where recovery endeavors are needed most. Also, GIS’s are used to coordinate the placement of aid distribution centers and to evaluate the regrowth and rebuilding until on the ground operations return to normal and the cycle repeats itself.

Moving forward, the WFP is looking to standardize the data it collects with GIS’s in order to make it usable for organizations around the world. Amparore says, “Standardization is the key to the continued growth of GIS at the WFP. This will allow us to expand our analytical capabilities and adopt an even greater scientific approach to data analysis.” Throughout my study of ICT4D and development in general, a unfortunately glaring theme that I have noticed is the lack of efficiency in relief and development efforts. GIS looks to be a great way to increase efficiency of aid efforts at all steps of the disaster cycle. Bringing a more scientific approach into the planning, implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation stages of development seems to me to be the way forward. Just like farmers who bring GIS onto their farms to lessen product runoff/crop wasting, aid programmes and relief efforts can use GIS to work towards decreasing error and increasing efficiency. This should lead them to also see a higher “yield” in people saved/positively effected by aid relief.

Link to the WFP website: Here
Link to the GIS WFP article: Here