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:


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.



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.




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!