Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Mapping Bloodlines

Today, the IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent) holds its 32nd International Conference in Geneva. Today as well, CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) accompanied by the WHO and PAHO/WHO, begins its Workshop on Network Surveillance of Diseases, in Port-of-Spain. These two organisations, both affiliated with highly-placed international organisations (the former to the United Nations and the latter to CARICOM) have mapping in their DNA.

One of the five founders of the Red Cross was Guillaume-Henri Dufour, a Swiss mapper, after whom Switzerland's highest peak Dufourspitze, is named. Version 2 of the popular open source GIS software QGIS was also codenamed Dufour. His face has appeared on postage stamps, including one from Grenada.

The father of epidemiology, Dr. John Snow, is remembered for stopping the 1854 London Soho District cholera epidemic. He did so by collecting field data as soon as the epidemic started and creating a map showing the location of cholera cases, leading him to correctly diagnose that the source was a contaminated water well(pump). The prevalent medical explanation for cholera at the time was 'miasma', so his work was a triumph of information management and mapping, and an advancement for society. As we know, today this combination of information management and mapping is called 'GIS'.

Whilst GIS has seen great progress in recent years, riding on the advancements in computing, telecommunications, satellite imagery, drones, etc., does the IFRC or CARPHA continue to use and improve on the seminal work of their founder and the founder of their field, respectively? If they could, what would the IFRC/ ICRC/ Red Cross Societies, or CARPHA/ PAHO, tell General Dufour and Dr. Snow, respectively, regarding their present use of real information management and mapping?

What would Dufour and Snow have done with GIS if they were alive today?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Lost At Sea

Venezuela's Presidential Decree 1787 of 26 May 2015 apparently extends a new zone of military operations into the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of four other countries. The areas of each EEZ affected by Venezuela are as follows:
Barbados 294 sq. km
Trinidad & Tobago 4,531 sq. km
Guyana 118,156 sq. km
Suriname 34,419 sq. km

See Interactive Map and Open Data. Though Barbados has the smallest area claimed by Venezuela, it stands to loose an area equivalent to nearly 70% of its land mass. Trinidad & Tobago stands to loose an area equivalent to nearly 90% of its land mass, along with access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Guyana stands to loose 85% of its EEZ including Territorial Sea areas, as well as access to the Atlantic. Suriname stands to loose 34,419 sq. km (26%) of its EEZ and be left with a 26km wide "gateway" to the Atlantic.

Venezuela's claimed EEZ also goes beyond the 200 nautical mile convention followed by other nations and instead extends out to 350 nautical miles from land, thereby also claiming 59,982 sq. km of the Continental Shelf/ High Seas. Effectively too the Venezuelan military is instructed to operate within 26km of the EEZ of France (French Guiana).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rise of the Nodes

Caribbean open spatial data portals now exist and may be growing. Almost all seem to be based on open source Geonode software, backed by the World Bank OpenDRI, BoundlessGeo/ OpenGeo and others - an initiative that may have started at the CAPRA project in Central America. In the Caribbean, open data nodes can be found in Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Guyana, Antigua and Jamaica. (also holds few data for other islands) and a World Bank project - CHaRIM (holds data for Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines). There's also a small experiment (mine) in open public health data using Google Fusion Tables for mapping. Would like to hear of the other open data outposts out there - spatial or not.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Open By Default

It's very encouraging that global development banks continue to find value in making public spending data, open data, in pursuit of improved transparency, combating corruption and better communication with the public. Many have begun their effort with GIS/ maps, e.g. the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) - maps tell stories well. Over and above the medium(s) has arisen a principle: 'Open by Default'. The  Open Government Partnership (OGP) which works to get governments to commit to openness has the support of the WB, ADB, OECD, IDB and UNDP, and has expressed such a principle. As this excellent summary by the World Bank states: 'Showing where the money goes is becoming the new normal.'

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Big Map

An open data project, Mapazonia, is using crowdsourcing to go where no map has gone before. This initiative of the Latin American OSM community specifically plans to update data for 5.5 million sq. kilometres of the Amazon on Open Street Map (OSM) using the Humanitarian OSM Tasking Manager tool. Un formidavel trabalho.