World Bank Georesults: Interactive Maps for Project Storytelling

Blue Raster and the World Bank Institute teamed up to create Georesults, an online mapping tool that allows users to learn about World Bank projects from an on-the-ground perspective via images, videos, and stories.

With this innovative tool, World Bank staff are able to document, contextualize, and share development solutions via interactive multimedia, an accessible alternative to conventional project reports that are often long and technical.

Georesults is an extension of the World Bank’s Mapping for Results initiative, founded in 2010, which aims to better monitor the impact of and offer local perspectives on Bank-financed aid projects at the sub-national level. Georesults’ interactive depictions of progress in local communities will help the World Bank track the effectiveness of its work and promote transparency and accountability.

“Inspired by our close collaboration with project managers and their teams, we ideated and are piloting this new approach of showing progress of World Bank results, connecting people to Georesults (beta) via the Mapping Platform,” said Aleem Walji, Director of Innovation Labs in WBI.”

Storytelling alternatives within the Georesults system include sequences of text and photos to illustrate events; before-and-after images that reveal results; and video clips offering an intimate peek into on-the-ground action. Users can browse project sites by location on a world map or search by project ID.

The concept is based on Esri StoryMaps, a platform for joining online mapping with interactive content. The application uses ArcGIS Online, Esri JavaScript API, Flickr, and YouTube. No programming or content management systems are required, so that World Bank staff can populate the system by uploading content to arcgis.com and tagging images using existing multimedia platforms.

 

On the Go: USAID MEASURE DHS Data Available in New Mobile App

With pressure to base policies and programs on meticulously collected data, there is a need to make USAID funded Monitoring and Evaluation to Assess and Use Results Demographic and Health Surveys (MEASURE DHS) reports more readily available.  However, many developing countries have no access to a tangible library of DHS reports, nor a reliable internet connection to visit the MEASURE DHS website to access these surveys.

Luckily, the rapid increase in the mobile phone and smartphone usage  has given the MEASURE DHS team hope.  The popularity of these devices can grant anyone access to DHS reports, from policy makers in Washington, D.C. to remote communities in rural Africa.  In fact, according to Pingdom’s STATcounter, 15% of Africa’s internet browsing in May 2012 came from mobile devices, an increase of more than 150% from 2010.

With the help of MEASURE DHS technology partner, Blue Raster, the DHS Mobile application was developed.  MEASURE DHS mobile covers over ninety countries, including data on vaccination, childhood mortality, nutrition, HIV testing and prevalence, literacy rates, twenty other indicators.  It displays trends within a single country through Quickstats, and allows users to compare and contrast the most common indicators through a series of tables, charts and maps.  It also provides basic information about the individual surveys, such as sample size, timing, and topics included, and links to download the final reports, Key Findings, and fact sheets.

Recognizing the need to build an application that is available on multiple mobile platforms, Blue Raster, an Adobe Partner, utilized Adobe PhoneGap to compile both iOS and Android applications.  PhoneGap Build allowed Blue Raster to capitalize on their experience in web-standard technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript to rapidly build and deploy the app.  Spatial data is delivered to the app using the ArcGIS 10.1 platform.  Basemap tiles are accessed from ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online, and the Esri Javascript API was used to link the geometry and data.

The app also stores all the indicator and survey data locally on the device, and periodically checks for updates.  This functionality truly enables users to connect with the data, despite the absence of consistent internet, and allows policymakers and program managers to visit field sites without having to create massive, tangible copies of data or abandon the data completely.

The DHS mobile application is free and available for Apple iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android smartphones and tablets.  Blue Raster will work with the MEASURE DHS team to enhance the application with new features and continue to improve the user experience in the coming months.  For suggestions in improving the DHS Mobile application, please email mobile@measuredhs.com.

 

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School District Demographics System (SDDS) Goes Mobile!

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics turned to Blue Raster to enhance the content and accessibility of their School District Demographics System (SDDS) by deploying it to mobile devices.  Using ArcGIS Server 10.1 and JavaScript API 3.0, our team developed this HTML5 application to run in a tablet browser (Apple iPad Safari or Android browsers), giving users instant access to education statistics at the state and school-district level.  This mobile tool allows users to create custom maps by selecting from a menu of options, including U.S. Census demographic statistics and math and reading assessments (NAEP).  SDDS Map Viewer Mobile was released at the NCES STATS-DC 2012 Data Conference today in Washington, DC.

Blue Raster’s Robert Winterbottom presented The School District Demographics System (SDDS) Goes Mobile! at the 2012 NCES Stats-DC Data Conference in Washington DC.

View more presentations from Blue Raster.

New Tools Help Forest Legality Alliance Reduce Illegal Logging

The Forest Legality Alliance, a joint effort of the World Resources Institute and the Environmental Investigation Agency, partnered with Blue Raster and others around the world to release two new web tools to help in their efforts to reduce illegal logging by supporting the supply of legal forest products.

The recent focus on illegal logging has made people wary of buying forest products from countries that are perceived to be high risk.  By providing useful advice and information about the due care process and supply chain facts, The Forest Legality Alliance hopes to  reduce the effort of exercising due care with its new Risk Tool. Using the Risk Tool, users can search for information about the forest products trade and relevant legality information by country or by species.  The goal of the site is to make it easier, cheaper, and less painful to examine forest product supply chains and improve transparency in the marketplace.

The Declaration Tool is designed to help importers understand the rationale for the Lacey Act Declaration (PPQ Form 505), which is required by the U.S Department of Agriculture for importers of wood products. The tool helps to reduce confusion over the data entry process by providing a wizard interface that steps through the PPQ505 Form, FAQs, and reference materials. The Declaration Tool also helps importers understand the importance of this form and its role in preventing the trade of illegal wildlife and plants.

Preserving Rainforests with Project POTICO

To preserve endangered rainforests in Indonesia, the World Resources Institute (WRI) has launched Project POTICO (Palm Oil, Timber, Carbon Offsets), a revolutionary approach to ecosystem management.  Working with spatial analysis tools developed by Blue Raster, Project POTICO aims to divert planned oil palm plantations away from virgin tropical forests to already degraded lands, a swap that will prevent deforestation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage sustainable agricultural development.

Using the Suitability Mapper, Project POTICO is mapping degraded lands in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, to identify areas with high potential for sustainable oil palm expansion.  This interactive web application produces a customized map of potentially suitable locations based on user inputs and a methodology developed by the WRI and its local partner Sekala.  The custom maps can be used by government officials for land-use planning and zoning decisions and by oil palm companies to prioritize areas for project-specific field assessments. To create these custom maps, the application uses Esri ArcGIS Server Flex API and Pixel Bender for geoprocessing directly in the browser.

Blue Raster also developed the Forest Cover Analyzer, which supports Project POTICO’s efforts to monitor changes to the forest cover.  Using this application, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations can compare current and historic satellite imagery of Indonesian forests, and determine if oil palm companies are using degraded lands and meeting the standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.  In addition to using Esri ArcGIS Server Flex API, the application uses the Flickr API, allowing users to explore over 190 field points and panoramic images collected to verify maps.

The beta versions of these two websites were presented at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil conference in Malaysia November 2011 and feedback collected from this event will be used to inform revisions to the public website to be launched in 2012.  For more information on the project please contact beth.gingold@wri.org.

Rethinking Health Mapping with Rich Visualizations

Blue Raster is pleased to announce the release of the new version of HealthLandscape, an interactive web-based mapping tool for healthcare providers, advocates, researchers, and policy makers.  HealthLandscape Version 3, which was launched in October, enhances the power of this award-winning GIS application, which allows healthcare professionals to combine, analyze, and display health information in ways that promote understanding, improve outcomes, and reduce cost of healthcare.  In July 2011, HealthLandscape and UDS Mapper took first place in the Web-Based GIS Application category at the Esri International User Conference’s User Software Applications Fair.

Blue Raster upgraded HealthLandscape from a legacy server system (ArcIMS) to ArcGIS Server and Flex API to provide users with more dynamic applications and greater functionality.  Most notably, HealthLandscape’s anthology of health-related tools can now be combined, enabling the user to use them all in one mapping viewer.  Users can turn tools on and off depending on their data needs and display layers from multiple tools on the map at the same time.

The new version also makes it easier for healthcare professionals and advocates to combine their own data with existing health maps and public sources of health, socio-economic and environmental information.  Using the new QuickGeocodes tool, users can upload data from Excel spreadsheets to create instant health maps.  They can also use the new QuickThemes tool to upload state, county or zip code-level data to create thematic maps that show how health information varies from region to region.

Visit HealthLandscape and see for yourself how it conveniently brings together and communicates critical health information and trends with compelling custom maps.

Aqueduct Atlas Helps Project Water Risks

As the world’s rapidly growing population places increasing stress on global water resources, companies and investors are paying closer attention to water use and water risk management.  To help  understand and manage  exposure to geographic water risks, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and its partners are working with Blue Raster to launch the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas.  Coca-Cola donated maps and data developed to help in understanding and managing exposure to water risks in facilities globally.  Through Aqueduct this information has been made accessible to the public in an interactive, easy-to-use platform, providing a comprehensive and credible metric for measuring geographic water risks.  The Aqueduct Atlas can create high resolution maps of water risks tailored to your unique risk exposure profile.

This interactive application, built using ArcGIS Server, helps companies to quantify and map water risks on a local scale and project future water use and availability.  The current mapviewer includes the Yellow River basin in China.  In the future, the Water Risk Atlas will analyze risk for a wide range of sectors and river basins including the Murray-Darling, Orange-Senqu, and Colorado River basins.

Using the Water Risk Atlas, users can generate detailed, multi-variable maps by adjusting the weight and priority of various factors, including risks related to water scarcity, deteriorating quality, increasing prices, poor water governance, or increasing competition for water resources.  The Atlas can be used to model what-if scenarios, identify risks and opportunities , and share water risk information.  To learn more, visit the water risk mapping platform at http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/aqueduct.

WRI Tracks Nutrient Pollution in Coastal Waters

When the World Resources Institute (WRI) wanted to draw attention to nutrient pollution of coastal waters, they turned to Blue Raster to develop an interactive website and GIS application to depict and track this growing problem.  The central feature of the WRI’s Eutrophication and Hypoxia: Nutrient Pollution in Coastal Waters website is an interactive map, which combines geographic, environmental, and time-lapse data.

Within the past 50 years, eutrophication—the over-enrichment of water by nutrients such as nitrogen phosphorus—has emerged as one of the leading causes of water quality impairment.  Eutrophication can result in hypoxia (or oxygen depletion), which can destroy aquatic life and create dead zones in coastal regions. “Until now, a lack of information and monitoring has been a major impediment to understanding the extent and impacts of ‘dead zones’ and eutrophication in coastal ecosystems,” said Mindy Selman, senior water quality analyst at WRI.  “This website is an important step forward because it compiles the current information into a central location to raise awareness and offer solutions for controlling nutrient pollution.”

Blue Raster developed the user-friendly application using ArcGIS Server and Flex API to create a comprehensive look at historical and recent eutrophic and hypoxic events around the world.  The interactive map allows users to investigate 762 coastal areas around the globe that have been affected by eutrophication and hypoxia. The data, which was compiled by analysts at WRI and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, includes 479 sites identified as experiencing hypoxia, 55 sites that once experienced hypoxia but are now improving, and 228 sites that experience other symptoms of eutrophication, including algal blooms, species loss, and impacts to coral reef assemblages.

Using Flickr, YouTube and Delicious, Blue Raster provided users with the ability to access and share other resources on eutrophication and hypoxia, including publications, photographs, and video.  The site also allows users to provide updates to the maps and databases based on their knowledge of local coastal water conditions. To learn more about nutrient pollution in coastal waters please visit http://www.wri.org/project/eutrophication/map.

MEASURE DHS Releases New Website, STATcompiler

The new MEASURE DHS website (www.measuredhs.com) and STATcompiler (www.statcompiler.com) were launched today, introducing the global community to new ways of visualizing Demographic and Health Surveys data. New features of the website include an interactive map of countries and surveys, an enhanced publications library, and more information on survey methodology.  The new, more user-friendly STATcompiler features customized tables, as well as charts, maps, and scatter plots.

STATcompiler has always allowed users to create custom tables, comparing survey results across countries and over time. Now users can visualize these data through interactive column charts, line graphs, maps, and scatter plots.  Users can select indicators and countries of interest, add background characteristics such as age, education, and wealth, and instantly see in a chart what is hard to discern in a table. These images are exportable for use in papers and presentations.  Data tables have also been enhanced, allowing users to sort data and customize their view.

The MEASURE DHS web tools allow for the sharing of Demographic and Health Surveys data from 90 countries and over 260 surveys.  Data are made available through free publications, datasets, and online data visualization tools. The website also provides background information on the survey process and methodology, contextual information on health and demographic topics, and summary data on countries and topics of interest.

Blue Raster collaborated with ICF Macro to build this application using ArcGIS Server, Flex API, ColdFusion, and CommonSpot.  The MEASURE Demographic and Health Surveys Project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

 

Amnesty International – Eyes on Syria

Blue Raster announces the launch of Eyes on Syria for Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization.  Created using ArcGIS Server Flex API, Flickr, and YouTube, this application tracks human rights concerns within Syria, the harassment of pro-reform Syrians abroad, and activism of Amnesty International supporters around the world.  Eyes on Syria offers a comprehensive picture of the situation in and outside Syria using geolocated photography and video evidence with eyewitness testimonies as well as activist campaign materials.  The project was led by Amnesty International’s Science for Human Rights Program.