Our Work

Blue Raster helps you tell your story through interactive
mapping technology. Make your message clear, exciting,
and user-friendly for both mobile and web platforms.

Health

Field Report: Supporting TRACE in Eswatini, Rwanda, and Ethiopia

Implementing a business intelligence platform requires users to think critically about the business questions they want their data to inform and the underlying data systems that will feed their data visualizations. Blue Raster has had the unique opportunity to work with ICAP (of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health), the University of California San Francisco, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Ministries of Health around the globe to put their data to work to end the HIV epidemic.

Ending the HIV Epidemic with Data

There has been significant progress over the past decade in the global health response to HIV, and the end of the HIV pandemic is within reach. Global health programs and Ministries of Health need high-quality, real time data in order to target the right interventions to the right populations at the right time, and we’re using Power BI and Esri ArcGIS Online to achieve these goals.

TRACE Initiative

Blue Raster and ICAP are working on the TRACE initiative (Tracking with Recency Assays to Control the Epidemic), establishing HIV recent infection surveillance systems in routine HIV services to detect, characterize, monitor, and intervene on recent infection among newly diagnosed people living with HIV (PLHIV). We are supporting the implementation of Power BI and ArcGIS to provide real-time data about recent infections and to deliver this data quickly to decision makers.

HIV Data Power BI dashboard

Power BI & ArcGIS Online

  • Power BI is a business analytics solution that lets users visualize data and share insights for real-time decision making.
  • ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based mapping and analysis solution that we’re using to make maps and perform rich geospatial analysis

Over the past few months, Blue Raster has been in the field with the ICAP team to:

  • Introduce Power BI and ArcGIS online as a data visualization platform.
  • Illustrate the analytic capabilities of the tools to the Ministries of Health and national Public Health entities

Blue Raster and ICAP walked through different implementation options with country teams, considering existing data systems and analytic tools. In addition, it was critical that HIV data get to the decision makers in a timely and usable format.

In Rwanda:

 

  • Held meetings with local implementing partners and the Ministry of Health and decided on Power BI and ArcGIS online licensing and deployment
TRACE in Rwanda
Bheki Magagula of ICAP Maps out the Rwanda Data Flow

In Eswatini:

 

  • We facilitated discussions in which the Ministry of Health team and the ICAP team came to a deployment decision quickly.
  • The teams were able to spend time working in Power BI and shaping the data in the back end of the system.
TRACE in Rwanda
Mpumelelo Ndlangamanga of ICAP works with Blue Raster on Visuals in Power BI

In Ethiopia:

  • Held a week-long training providing tailored content to data consumers, developers, and administrators (with participants from Ethiopia Public Health Institute, ICAP, and CDC)
  • Data consumers worked in Power BI and walked through decision making exercises using sample data.
  • Developers and admins walked through Power BI as a whole, from ingesting data to publishing/sharing reports to monitoring usage and incorporating end-user feedback.
TRACE in Ethiopia
Power BI Developers from Ethiopia Public Health Institute, CDC, and ICAP

These introductory workshops and trainings are just the beginning of our work with ICAP and country teams. Stay tuned to the blog for details on how this data is being used and how the trainings are adding value to the daily work of those on the front lines of ending the HIV epidemic.

Moving forward, ICAP and Blue Raster will have the opportunity to work with other countries in Sub Saharan Africa. For more information about the TRACE initiative and the countries we work in, please see https://trace-recency.org/ or visit our blog post.

The TRACE Initiative: Using real-time data to identify hot spots of current HIV transmission

The Tracking with Recency Assays to Control the Epidemic (TRACE) project is a new initiative that will contribute to the global fight to reach HIV epidemic control. With funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TRACE is being implemented with technical assistance from ICAP at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Power BIPower BI Dashboard

Blue Raster is developing a dashboard and map application to visualize, analyze and track the recent infections and identify hot spots where action may be directed. The dashboard application needs to be accessible and usable by many users in many scenarios. After assessing multiple options, the Blue Raster and TRACE teams decided on the ideal combination of Microsoft Power BI and Esri ArcGIS Online.

In the first year of the project, ICAP will support the roll-out of rapid recency testing in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Through TRACE, new medical and technological innovations are combining in a powerful way:

Medical:

  • TRACE is supporting select countries to begin implementing the use of Rapid Tests for Recent Infection (RTRI) which are capable of distinguishing between recent and long-term infections.
  • The test can be completed in 20 minutes during a routine exam

Technological:

  • Powerful, accessible and easy-to-use Business Intelligence platforms are in easy reach of public health organizations.
  • The explosion in online GIS and mapping capabilities brings the ability to analyze and visualize data by geospatial attributes to the screens of more people than ever before.

TRACE dashboard

 

Blue Raster is honored to support all efforts to reach HIV epidemic control through our work on projects like TRACE and the ICAP’s Population-based HIV Assessment (PHIA) project. Today’s availability of extensible, easy-to-use and cost-effective online tools will equip future generations with accurate and complete information about burden and distribution of disease. Furthermore, this will guide decision making to ensure that resources are efficiently allocated.

 

Mapping for a World Without Malnutrition

Driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Blue Raster worked to release the latest version of the Malnutrition Mapping Project (MalMap). This interactive mapping application provides mapping and analysis tools for multiple stressors of malnutrition. From start to finish, users can explore factors that enable malnutrition such as poverty levels and population density, access to basic water, and development outcomes such as percentages of deaths due to diabetes and rates of low birth weight.

The expansion of this project includes the addition of 33 new indicators, and a comprehensive update to the existing 40 indicators. Not only can you display and compare these indicators worldwide, but users can analyze these variables to see which countries are exceeding set thresholds for each indicator. The analysis allows users to also focus in on which countries are exceeding a set threshold for all the indicators, with no limit on the number of indicators that can be cross compared. This allows stakeholders to drill down into the data like never before and focus on directing aid and funding where there is most need.

All of the data in this application is hosted on ArcGIS Online, a scalable cloud-based platform that allows for future expansion of the maps.  The framework for the application was upgraded to the latest React providing a clean, easy-to-navigate interface.

 

 

Dig deeper with new Topics pages from The DHS Program

Blue Raster is a long term partner of USAID funded The DHS Program – since 2009 we have collaborated on and created such tools as STATcompiler, Spatial Data Repository, The DHS Program Mobile app, The DHS Program API and the central communications hub: DHSProgram.com.

The DHS Program API already powers the STATcompiler, Mobile App and SDR- and now you can visualize the indicator data that the API provides on DHSProgram.com as well.

New Topics pages have been created to help interested users narrow their focus and uncover relevant indicators:

The topics pages showcase the latest relevant survey data and were built using HTML5 and JavaScript.  Each page is essentially a mini application that calls to The DHS Program API to automatically update when new surveys are released so that the freshest data is served and visualized.

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Some Topics pages, such as Gender, allow users to easily compare certain indicators side by side in a table- new functionality specific to the Topics pages.  Handy links to contextual information are provided in the page sidebars.

More topics pages are on the way…see this post by The DHS Program and you can help decide what comes next!

“Data visualization has always been a key part of communicating DHS data to our audiences. We started with STATcompiler, a tool allowing users to create custom tables based on thousands of health indicators across over 90 countries and compare trends across time. Now, with the continuing support from Blue Raster, we’re pleased to see we have expanded our data visualization practices to our topic pages. With their guidance, we’ve developed a simplified version of STATcompiler as a mini-tool easing our users into the world of data visualization of DHS data.”

Sarah Kim, Digital Media Specialist, The DHS Program


 

Danger in the Air: UNICEF

Blue Raster collaborated with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help produce Danger in the Air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children. Leveraging the analysis pioneered during a recent study with UNICEF regarding air pollution, Blue Raster and UNICEF used satellite imagery of outdoor air pollution in combination with global demographic data to determine that 17 million babies under the age of 1 breathe toxic air, with the majority living in South Asia. The report also highlights why young children are the most vulnerable to the impact of air pollution.

Air pollution is a critical health issue to people all over the world. Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution due to their physiology: their lungs are still developing, and exposure to harmful air during this critical period can be especially detrimental, causing life-threatening diseases. A growing number of studies are even pointing to the impacts of air pollution on a cognitive development. They note that breathing in particulate air pollution can damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development – with lifelong implications and setbacks.

UNICEF has made its mission protecting and empowering children around the world. With Blue Raster’s help, UNICEF identified the youngest children who are most vulnerable to the dangers of air pollution, and promotes a greater understanding of this issue among governments, communities, and families. Further geospatial analysis can help us identify trends, pinpoint sources of pollution, and create plans for reducing pollution in the future.

“Not only do pollutants harm babies’ developing lungs – they can permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children. It is also benefits their societies – realized in reduced health care costs, increased productivity and a safer, cleaner environment for everyone.”

Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director 


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