Famine Early Warning Systems Network – Launches Website

How does USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) prepare for famine assistance to the world’s neediest? One success story is the Famine Early Warning Systems Network at www.fews.net.

Blue Raster assisted in releasing the new FEWS NET and is proud to partner with Chemonics International and Forum One in launching the new tool. Blue Raster automated the generation of forecasting maps for the 37 monitored countries, making the maps available sooner to decision makers. Two side-by-side comparative maps of food-security outlooks are produced for every region, and the countries are colored according to their food security, highlighting areas of Stress, Crisis, Emergency and Famine.

FEWS NET

FEWS NET is a collaboration of international, regional and national partners to provide timely and rigorous early-warning and vulnerability information on emerging and evolving food security issues. Once identified, FEWS NET uses a suite of communications and decision-support products to help decision makers act to mitigate food insecurity.

The tech behind the site are ArcGIS Desktop and Python Tools as well as ArcGIS Server delivering dynamic maps.  Node.js delivers both dynamic and static maps as needed throughout the Drupal CMS, with tight integration allowing Drupal admins to access maps for report pages during periodic updates. The servers are hosted in the Amazon Cloud environment taking advantage of S3 as well.

MEASURE DHS LAUNCHES THE SPATIAL DATA REPOSITORY

Blue Raster is pleased to announce the launch of the Spatial Data Repository (SDR), a  new open data tool that provides geographically-linked health and demographic data from the USAID funded MEASURE Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) project and the U.S. Census Bureau for mapping in a geographic information system (GIS). This new resource offers:

  • National and subnational boundaries of DHS regions can be visualized over time.
  • More than 1,500 DHS indicators and U.S. Census population estimates in GIS format.
  • Users without GIS software can make interactive maps of DHS indicators at STATcompiler.

Blue Raster leveraged the power of ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online along with custom Python scripts to deliver all MEASURE DHS data in spatial formats (shapefiles and file geodatabase). Users can select indicators of interest (from more than 90 countries) and SDR will create custom data packages for download data .

Visit Spatial Data Repository for access to USAID’s first public and accessible global health dataset.

Spatial Data Repository

Clara Burgert, GIS Coordinator, MEASURE DHS explains,

The Spatial Data Repository has been innovative from the start, being the first time that global health was shared in a GIS format. This new version of the website continues that innovation with new tools and abilities which Blue Raster, a key partner on this activity, was a driving force in implementing. I am particularly pleased with the ability to select and download your own data packages and also visualizing the DHS regions over time. MEASURE DHS has such a wealth of data and resources – we are excited by the opportunities that the new website brings in opening the data to the geographic community.

The Spatial Data Repository is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) effort to provide data for decision making and improve knowledge and understanding of the impact of HIV worldwide. Blue Raster partnered with ICF International to deliver this new open data platform for USAID.

Increasing Forest Transparency in the Congo Basin

Current information relating to land rights, agriculture, and forestry in Cameroon is now easily accessed with the development of the Cameroon Interactive Forest Atlas, produced by Blue Raster in collaboration with the World Resources Institute.

The Atlas combines the use of remote sensing, mapping, and ground-truthing to monitor and manage forests. Stakeholders can access timely and accurate information about land use allocation within the national forest estate (forest concessions, protected areas, council forests, community forests, etc.) through the Forest Atlas. The goal of the project is to place forest information securely into public hands to support transparent and participatory decision making towards sustainable forest management in Cameroon.

Forest Atlas of Cameroon

For Cameroon, WRI aimed to play a role in supporting environmental protection and promote responsible population development, economic growth, and use of local resources by providing a clearer picture when discussing local environmental issues and greater socio-economic issues for the nation.

In supporting that goal, Blue Raster was charged with creating a multilingual user-friendly application for accessing this detailed information on the local forestry infrastructure.  Using GIS data, the Cameroon Interactive Forest Atlas displays information on concessions and boundaries, better explains the legality of logging in specific regions, and reveals areas of responsible mining and agriculture.  For analysis, the data can be overlaid on satellite imagery giving the user both a current and clear visualization of the area.

“The Forest Atlases are an essential contribution towards improving the management and monitoring of forest lands across the Congo Basin.  Through the online and offline Atlas applications, users can easily access up-to-date forest information without any technical training – significantly lowering barriers for turning information into action”, comments Matthew Steil, Manager, People and Ecosystems at World Resources Institute.

Forest Atlas of the Republic of Congo

In addition to the interactive web application, an Offline Atlas is available for use in the field or for those without access to a reliable internet connection.  This downloadable version, as well as charts, maps, and a poster of the region, can be utilized remotely, giving users the mobility they require.  Blue Raster continues to work with WRI and Ministry of Forestry to create similar Atlas applications for other nations, including:

With support from USAID, WRI promotes responsible economic growth alongside environmental protection in developing regions.  Through continued collaboration between WRI and Cameroon Ministry of Forests and Fauna, Blue Raster will continue to contribute to this project by updating it regularly, giving users access to the most current and accurate information available to promote the objectives of WRI in the Congo Basin.

The following press releases are available for additional information:

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.

 

iTunes App Store Google Play

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).

 

Measure DHS

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has selected the ICF Macro team, including Blue Raster as a substantial subcontractor, to implement the MEASURE Phase III Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) contract. Blue Raster will update the website and STATcompiler, using ArcGIS Server 9.3.1 and Flex API, to allow widespread access to this data, which will dramatically improve usability and information accessibility.  The mapping application allows users to customize data sets for factors of region, years and household indicator, and then to view the results graphically. This $142 million, five-year contract will serve as the Bureau for Global Health’s primary demographic and health data collection effort. For more information on Measure DHS please visit http://www.measuredhs.com .

dhs_map