Dear supporters and members of CartONG,
After a busy end of 2016, we have started this new year in the continuity of the previous.
CartONG keeps strengthening its team, with several new staff joining us, and we still have a couple of positions open - feel free to suggest us applicants if you know (or are...) the right person! This growth implied again the need for more space, we have therefore annexed the office next door for our HQ.
One of our new employees being a communication officer, we also plan to be better at informing you on our activities - including a complete re-design of this newsletter for the its next iteration, following your feedback from the last one.
This year CartONG will continue developing its links with existing partners and exploring new activities, for instance we produced a research on ICT for development microproject (cf. below) that was a great opportunity to explore new fields of innovation besides GIS and Information Management!
We wish you all a great summer!
PS: we will participate in September in Paris to the 10th Convergences World Forum, the leading event on sustainable development, during which we'll speak at a session on "New technologies to leverage development". We hope to see you there - we have access to a few discounted tickets, please get in touch if you're interested!
Our projects in the first half of 2017
As the second year of the 2016/2019 Médecins Sans Frontières partnership strategy implementation unfolds, the GIS Unit (Unit for Geographic Information Systems) of CartONG working with the GIS Unit of MSF, has continued its upscaling efforts by providing, firstly, of maps designed to respond to the specific needs of MSF’s field missions, and, secondly, of new GeoApps (i.e. Geographic Applications). Since the beginning of 2017, more than 80 paper maps have thus been created on ArcGIS to answer the needs of missions.
A GeoApp is always designed to respond to specific needs allowing to collect operations-driven data (record of exploratory missions, facilitation of an emergency project launch, etc.), logistical data (accessibility of targeted sites, provision of supplies for each site, security, evacuation plan, etc.) and obviously medical data (current state of medical facilities/hospitals, identification of vaccination sites, number of new cases for a disease, attack rate and morbidity rate in case of epidemic, etc.) so that it is possible to showcase relevant indicators or, more globally, dashboards. By using a GeoApp solution, all actors can gain access – both online and offline – to key decision-making information for the successful running of MSF field missions, especially as they are happening in challenging and uncertain contexts. For instance, CartONG was involved with the development of a "GeoApp - Epidemic" (selection of different cumulated attack or incidence rates of the epidemic, choice of districts to be considered, and presence of a time cursor) to monitor the cholera outbreak in Yemen. The tool was praised by the medical experts of MSF.
Since the beginning of 2017, we have also assisted 14 team deployments, included 9 local and 2 international cartographers on the field to respond to epidemics, to facilitate the implementation of WASH programs, and to map refugee camps.
In addition to conducting a training session on the use of Mobile Data Collection tools (Kampala in March) and another one on basic use of GIS (Kampala in April), we also organized the first "GIS Week" in Kampala for international and local GIS specialists as well as all members of the GIS Unit (32 people in total). The GIS Week was designed to train participants to use GIS to develop advanced geomatics skills, but also to foster interesting exchanges via presentations on cartographic production and tools (KoBo, Toolbox, Collector for ArcGIS, OSMAND) designed for and used during MSF field missions.
Lastly, CartONG has taken an active and significant part in the writing of the proposal for the "GEOMSF project" which was validated during the first semester of 2017. The GEOMSF project will allow the scaling of services currently offered by the GIS Unit. The project is to be implemented for a couple of years and will reinforce GIS, IT and data management (warehouse) at MSF. The aim of the GEOMSF project is to generate a work ecosystem allowing the display and analysis of data spatially, across time, and therefore, to facilitate decision-making during humanitarian and health missions.
For UNHCR, the main GIS aspects that were tackled in the first half of the year, were of a structural nature: restructuring codes, researching possible GIS architectural options and improve performances. The latter has especially been important for the camp/site mapping that CartONG has continued to support since 2015. For huge camps like Nyarugusu in Tanzania with a population of 135,000 as of March 2017, a new way of coding the web mapping application had to be found to allow displaying all shelter points fast enough. CartONG restructured the code, adding node.js for updating the data and changing the tiling. The data is now displayed within a few seconds. The performance has improved so much, that ESRI congratulated us on our results!
Whilst CartONG has already set up the FSMT (Formal Site Monitoring Tool) mapping application for CCCM (Camp Coordination and Camp Management) of 2016, requests for adjusting and adding features were received in the first semester 2017 also. The most challenging one was to develop a PDF print button allowing the staff to easily generate a printout of one site. The website has been coded in Leaflet which did not offer a code plugin for extracting the map. CartONG’s most senior Java Script Developer worked on creating brand new code which allows this extraction. If you want to test, you can do it here. To do so, please click on one of the refugee camps displayed on the main map which will give you access to the charts and graphs and make the PDF print button visible.
In 2016, CartONG piloted a standardization test XLS form used by several organizations and originally developed by UNICEF, fine-tuning the output and the procedures to enable survey managers to conduct the standardization exercise for the enumerators learning how to measure and weigh children also with ODK. The advantage: the survey managers no longer have to key in the measuring results into ENA – a software used by UNHCR to analyze nutrition data – to gain an understanding if the measuring has been performed consistently and without any bias. In the first semester of 2017, CartONG was requested to support another operation using this standardization test remotely which findings now will allow to complete the fine-tuning and the related procedures and make the package available on the SENS webpage within the third quarter of the year. So watch this space.
CartONG also embarked on a new activity: delivering XLS coding training in a webinar format. The training was held as a series of three events, 1.5 hrs each, comprised of theory, hands-on demo, Question and Answer Sessions and Exercises to be completed by the participants after the webinar. The initial feedback has been positive and a more in-depth evaluation will be conducted to see if also other topics could be taught through webinars or refresher MDC trainings conducted for those nutritionists and survey managers having basic knowledge wanting to brush up and get up to speed for their next SENS survey.
The technical partnership has continued to flourish with Terre des Hommes-Lausanne: beyond the usual field and HQ hotline on Mobile Data Collection, CartONG has organized two field trainings (for the Middle East / Eastern Europe delegations and for South Sudan), worked on a co-financed MDC benchmarking, produced an infography linked to a 2016 project evaluating child protection case management tools, and designed an online dashboard with Power BI linked to the FACET WASH Health Facility evaluation mobile data collection tool set up in 2016. New dashboards will soon be created for TdH for projects conducted in the field of education. CartONG also helped HQ with strategic questions on scaling up IM & MDC and is starting, amongst other projects, to support Tdh to improve its data protection through quick wins.
CartONG also supported the Cash Consortium Iraq (composed of Mercy Corps, Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee), who has so far provided cash assistance to over 10,000 newly displaced households and conflict affected vulnerable households across nine governorates. CartONG deployed an IM specialist for six weeks, while providing a follow-up remote support, to help improve and streamline its data collection, management and visualisation systems.
We also continued our technical training cycles at the Bioforce humanitarian school in Lyon, did a training on MDC for SOS Faim in Mali for their field partners working in the agricultural sector, intervened to raise awareness on the use of Geographical Information Systems at Solidarités International’s field technical coordinators’ week, and also helped Handicap International work on their future MDC strategy concerning case management.
CartONG organized for ICRC an updated mapping of Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo) on OpenStreetMap, as part of the Missing Maps project with the help of more than 80 volunteers. The updating of the 2010 map version of Goma was key to the implementation of a project by ICRC to give access to safe water and sanitation to the population of Goma. The 2017 version of the Map of Goma is therefore now available to ICRC for further project developments and to local actors, and will continue to be updated by the OSM community in the DRC.
We launched a new project in partnership with the Netherlands Red Cross and OpenStreetMap DRC, supported by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development goals (SDG) Data. The objective is to build a “data collaborative” to support the open data ecosystem in DRC and Malawi, around the topics of water & sanitation and health. We will both map and support actors using open data to measure SDGs, including on the data sharing and dataviz aspects (check this leaflet for more information). We will organize a workshop in Kinshasa in September to kick-start the project, please get in touch if you’re interested!
Focus: Study on ICT use for micro-projects
CartONG was requested by the Agency of Micro Projects of La Guilde Européenne du Raid to undertake a study on the use of ICT available for small associations of international solidarity, which often underuse new technologies that could be very relevant to their work. These organizations have very little financial and human resources, and are often overwhelmed by the number of tools available on the market, without necessarily having neither the time nor the technical skills to select the best ones for their micro-projects.
After launching a survey to understand the current uses and needs of micro-projects in the humanitarian and development field, to which 95 organizations replied, we published a research paper (in French) for small organizations’ supporting entities - such as donors, regional councils, etc. - to help them both understand the advantages and constraints that using ICT can entail but also with key recommendations for accompanying these micro-projects in the process. The second phase was to help these micro-projects in a more concrete fashion, by producing a toolbox (also in French) with 26 one pagers on recommended tools, methods and feedback from organizations. We hope this toolbox will give small associations - but why not also bigger ones also! - the relevant support to get them started with some of these ICT that they probably have frequently heard about but have never dared using!
We are exploring new aspects of the Missing Maps project: beside running regular mapathons (22 already in 2017, including a 90-participant event in Geneva with ICRC and IFRC!), we are developing new formats with kids (including a "board game" to illustrate why we map, tested before the French SOTM conference in June), and we keep improving mapping and, in particular, the validation and data integration processes with expert volunteers. You can find two nice videos realized by our partners Handicap International and MSF-France on the mapathons we organized with them.
We are also working to link the preemptive side of Missing Maps with local development project through a first project in partnership with Ivry-sur-Seine (France) and its twin city Dianguirdé (Mali). Several mapathons in Ivry, a field visit by the OSM Mali community and an intensive validation work has allowed to produce the first map of the rural commune in decades. The map is now available for the Malian and French partners to plan future water & sanitation projects, as well as having a general overview of the are. We are currently finalizing a similar activity with Ouahigouya (Burkina Faso) and have a few leads with other cities, please get in touch with us if you'd like to start this type of activity with your hometown!
We also started a new partnerhsip with the senegalese NGO Nature-Communautés-Développement to monitor the wildlife of the Parc National du Niokolo Koba in Southeast Senegal. Our volunteers are currently working to build the database before handing it over the the senegalese parnters.
If you're interested in our volunteering activities, please check our Trello board that sums up our current projects & needs but also ideas!
Finally, we have introduced CartONG's work and projects during various events (MERL Tech London, Crisis Preparedness & Management in the Network Age workshop at the French Development Agency, MSF's MDC workshop, SIANA digital cultures conference in Evry, ESRI’s GIS for a sustainable world, State Of The Map-France 2017, AGIT 2017 in Salzburg etc.) and we have kept raising awareness on humanitarian mapping in several universities (Carthagéo, Chambéry) and to a larger audience.
Focus: Training mission in Madagascar
At the end of April 2017, two CartONG volunteers conducted a four-day training session at the headquarters of the National Committee against AIDS (SE-CNLS) in Antananarivo.
The purpose of this training was to explain to local agents of SE-CNLS and of other local NGOs how to accurately use and manage the interactive webmapping application developed by CartONG, which allows local organizations to list and locate all activities and projects undertaken to fight against AIDS in Madagascar. The application gives users a global view of the different actions currently conducted in the fight against AIDS in Madagascar, while also highlighting the areas which appear to be completely or partially neglected. This interactive webmapping application relies on open-source technologies (such as Django framework and PostgreSQP database) and is built with an OpenStreetMap base map. The application was itself created by 7 CartONG volunteers, following a collaborative project between UNAIDS-Indian Ocean, CartONG and SE-CNLS.
Training started with 2 days dedicated to the local agents of SE-CNLS, who are responsible for coordinating the Action Plan for the Fight against AIDS in Madagascar and who have therefore also become the administrators of the application. In this regards, the SE-CNLS agents are now in charge of checking and validating the data which is submitted through the application by on-site contributors. On the third day, the representatives of 5 local ONGs (MADAIDS, SALFA, AFSA, SISAL, PSI) joined the group, and were trained to use the application. They will directly be contributing to the success of this enterprise by precisely entering the description and localization of their projects onto the application.
At the end of the three days, an in-depth debriefing was held during which the participants expressed their satisfaction for the training. The agents of SE-CNLS and of the local NGOs also communicated their interest in a lasting collaboration with CartONG. The team of CartONG volunteers will therefore now go back to work and start building upon the feedback of this training to improve the settings of the application. To be continued…
Latest posts on CartoBlog...
- The CartONG team