GIS Cloud Visualize, analyze and share your geo data online. Wed, 27 Apr 2016 19:31:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mapping the Disease: Using GIS for Improving Malaria Interventions in Nigeria Wed, 27 Apr 2016 19:31:18 +0000 Malaria GIS Day project

25th of April was World Malaria Day, an international observance commemorated every year. This year, the main theme is “End Malaria For Good”, building on the progress made in the last 15 years, with malaria mortality rates decreased by 60%. Despite the successes made in defeating malaria, there is still a lot to work on – over the last century, there have been dozens of resurgences of malaria in countries around the world. Many of this cases are directly linked to decreases in funding to fight the disease.

We did an interview with Ayodele Adeyemo, a geogeek looking for ways to leverage geospatial technologies to provide solutions for human, social and environmental challenges. Ayademo and his team – Ojumu Tijesu, a full-stack web developer Eyo O Eyo and Ogunbanwo Olumide, specialized in electronics, won the 1st prize in GIS Day Contest, awarding project ideas focused on doing valuable work in local communities with the help of geospatial technologies.

With their Malaria Risk Map project, Adeyemo, Ojumu, Eyo and Ogunbanwo want to contribute the global initiative in defeating Malaria using their expertises. Knowing that 35% of malaria deaths occur in just two countries – Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the potential impact of their efforts can be a valuable part of the worldwide fight in ending malaria for good. Find out more about their project using GIS in solving global health problems and what they are planning to do next.


You won the 1st prize in GIS Day contest. Can you tell us more about your project? How did you get an idea to create Malaria Risk Map?

Yes, our project is “Geospatial Modelling of Malaria Risk and Vulnerability (Severity) using Environmental, Climatic and Socio-economic factors”.

This initiative was drawn from a number of project ideas that arose in collaboration between myself and my geogeek partner Tijesu, during our internship at the National Space Agency, Nigeria. Tijesu continued to work on the idea for his final year project and this helped us to understand the dynamics of GIS in the public health. Looking at the concrete problem – Malaria, we can say that it is a big challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa based on the percentage of people that have fallen victim as well as the number of lives that are being claimed by malaria across African communities. We were also looking into finding out the number of intervention programmes focused on malaria as well as the amount of grants that have been pushed into the system. On our side, we have now made a plan to help people across communities to find out about their risk of contracting malaria (through the internet and SMS for people without internet connection) as well as a dashboard that will help the intervention programmes know where, when and how much of intervention is needed.


What’s the current status of your project –  in which phase are you now?

The project has been coming up slowly but at a steady pace. We have been working on different models for integration while looking for sustainable partnerships that would help us to make the project a success. We are intending to do a call for volunteers in order to gather the datasets that we need. It is worth noting that we had to scale down the project to a small geographic area at this point, so that we could have a pilot done with limited resources, to prove the concept. At the moment, we are talking with a few prospective partners who could help us with the funding for a pilot project. We hope to start with the full implementation of the pilot by the June 2016.


What are the main challenges you are facing with in doing this kind of a large-scale project?

The main challenges we have faced are related to data acquisition and finding funds to provide incentives for the volunteers involved in the programme as well as covering a part of our operational costs. Our partnership with GIS Cloud has alleviated over 60% of our software licenses costs. Basically, our main challenge is getting enough funds to bootstrap the project.


How do you think your project will impact local communities in Nigeria?

If individuals across communities can have access to real time information on their risk for contracting malaria, then they can protect themselves more efficiently from malaria by knowing what is the best time to use the antimalaria drugs. Our platform will also help intervention teams by knowing what are the best places to focus their aid per time, based on the risk indices of the communities. This could go a long way in increasing the accuracy of interventions per time.


April 25th is world Malaria day. What is the current situation with the spread of Malaria in population of Nigeria and what can be done to make it diminish it in the future?

Nigeria still has a long way to go as a developing country. Malaria is still endemic in this part of the world, especially in the rural communities due to a number of factors ranging from socioeconomic situation to climate etc. There are a number of NGOs, civil societies and health communities that are focused on providing aid for areas prone to malaria. Nevertheless, most of the interventions are not data driven, these organizations have a schedule of operations and they mostly focus on distributing treated mosquito nets to individuals across communities. On the other hand, there are a number of organizations that support operations with interventions using a data driven approach like Ehealth Africa. So, i think if organizations will start looking into data driven approach for solving health problems and partnering with tech startups with solutions focused on the social processes, then we can have a more efficient and effective public health system around the world.


What is the role of GIS in solving global health problems and helping to reduce the impact of Malaria in particular?

The relevance of GIS for public health can not be over emphasized because it provides us with the ability to conceptualize and visualize public health data while having a tool for us to understand the spatial trends and patterns of diseases and epidemics.

For instance, GIS was used by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International during  the Ebola case in Africa in 2014.  Also, with tools from GIS Cloud health officers can now gather field data in a professional and efficient manner. In the malaria case, GIS provides us a platform that enable combining different thematic layers and also creating visualizations together with running predictive model algorithms that will help to create an informed health community.


You are looking for local partnership to help you with the project. Can you tell us more about your plans for creating strategic partnerships?

Yes, on the local partnerships, we are working closely with Tech4Dev and Hacey Health Initiative and we currently talking about a partnership. We are also looking forward to partnering with the National Youth Corps Service programme if we can leverage their national presence for data collection using corps members as volunteers. We will also consider partnering with other health organizations within and outside Nigeria.

Follow Malaria Risk Map project on Facebook.

To support the cause, you can contact the project team via e-mail.


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What is New in Mobile Data Collection? Thu, 21 Apr 2016 15:16:45 +0000 Mobile Data Collection 1.5.9 is now available on the Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS devices.

data collection with mobile

What’s changed?

MDC features

Auto sync is a new feature implemented in Mobile Data Collection. It prevents data collection within the current form in MDC if the form is changed or deleted before or during data collection process.

If the data is sent after the form is changed user will be notified and asked to edit the data.

If the layer used to collect data is deleted from the database or a project is deleted completely, user will be notified that he can’t collect data anymore.

To assure better data accuracy Mobile Data Collection implemented GPS check up. This feature alerts a collector if the GPS signal is lost.

After 2 minutes, user will be notified that location is old.


Also, the biggest novelty brought by releasing Mobile Data Collection 1.5.9 is Form Field Descriptions.

The feature provides an additional description of optional length to a particular field.

Description field MDC

  Want to know more about Mobile Data Collection and its benefits for various industries, projects and organizations?

Join us on a webinar “How to Collect, Inspect and Visualize Data with Minimal Effort” scheduled for Thursday, April 28th 2016. You can register here.


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Reinvent your Workflow: How to Collect, Inspect and Visualize Data with Minimal Effort Thu, 14 Apr 2016 13:59:07 +0000 On Thursday, April 28th, we will host a webinar dedicated to benefits of Mobile Data Collection for organizations and businesses of different profiles.

GIS Cloud webinar

Field data collection is a part of workflows in various organizations and businesses. Whether you work on infrastructure maintenance, non-government projects, retail, forestry, roadworks or park maintenance and management, collecting and updating information with smartphones and tablets in the field can help you reduce time, costs and workforce necessary for various daily tasks.

Mobile Data Collection is a perfect tool for team coordination, inspection and supervision, asset management in real time. If you want to know how to use it, what are the benefits of including MDC in your regular workflow, and see it in action, join us on:


Thursday, April, 28th At:

At 8:00am PST    11:00am EST    15:00 GMT



Following Topics Will Be Covered:

  • What is new in GIS Cloud, Mobile Data Collection and future developments
  • Creating your field data collection project, setting up forms and exporting maps
  • Benefits of using Mobile Data Collection for different industries
  • Real life examples of using MDC in roadworks, non-profit initiatives in remote areas, watersheds, public health, tree inventory and other projects


Who Should Attend:

  • Everyone who is in a need for an effective data collection process in order to improve daily workflow and overall business
  • Local Government Departments, Contractors and Consultants working with infrastructure, utilities, asset management, planning and roadworks
  • Businesses that want to monitor and visualize data from various locations in real time, want a better quality assurance or control over work done by their contractors
  • Consultants who want to help their clients to transform their businesses and organizations
  • GIS Cloud users who want to know more about Mobile Data Collection and future developments

Want to know more about GIS Cloud news and webinars? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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Meet the People of GIS Cloud: An Interview with Antonija Netolicki, Sales Manager at GIS Cloud Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:10:38 +0000 ANT

GIS Cloud Sales team takes care of our user accounts and does an irreplaceable job of consulting and advising organizations and individuals in making the most of our solutions. Therefore, following an interview with Tatjana Urvan, Head of Support and Quality Assurance Department, we decided to talk with Antonija Netolicki, a Senior Sales Manager.

Tell us a few words about yourself: why did you choose geography as your field of study in the first place and how did you end up as a Sales Manager at GIS Cloud?

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a Scout. You can say they helped to make me the person I am today. Nature, orientation and reading maps were always present in my early days. I learned to read maps even before I knew how to write. Maps have always fascinated me as well as traveling, learning about other cultures and really understanding historical and geographical background of the place I am visiting. So, geography as a field of study really came natural to me, and I knew from the start that GIS would be my major. I fell in love with GIS because it gives that additional, missing data component to mapping and I wanted to learn about it as much as I could, since this is a field that is constantly growing and developing.

The great thing about GIS Cloud was that this environment enabled the team to grow and gave us a chance to decide for ourselves what we wanted to do. So I took a try at everything, but I really found myself in sales. I still remember my first call with a user, I was terrified that I’ll say something wrong but at the same time it was really exciting. I’m a real people’s person and I love to chat with our users. To hear about their stories, use cases, how they are using our solutions, it’s really exciting to me. I don’t think of myself as a sales person. A more fitting word would be consultant, because I listen to all those stories from different industries and sometimes it can be quite demanding to find the best fit for their needs. But this is what makes it so interesting and fun.


How do you feel being a part of GIS Cloud’s team?

From the moment I saw the job opening at GIS Cloud, I knew that this was something different from everything else out there. At the time  GIS Cloud was just a small team, but the ad really caught my eye, especially the part about cooking in the office and how the team enjoys to prepare meals every day. I liked the idea of a casual lunch with fellow coworkers, an opportunity to catch up and hang out. They were like a small family. The only logical thing for me to do was to bake a cake for my interview. Obviously they loved it :)

So what can I say, even though the team has tripled in numbers from then, the spirit from the beginning is still present and that is what makes working at GIS Cloud different than working anywhere else.

How does a regular working day in life of a Sales Manager look like?  

A regular day in Sales starts with making coffee and chilling out on the balcony.

Then I evaluate emails that have arrived and prioritize. We always try to respond to a query as fast as we can. There are also many requests for live demos, so I’m booked with calls as well. I love having calls with our users when I get to show them how to implement our solutions in their work. Every day is special and different from the day before. And I love it.

Name the biggest challenges you are confronted with in a day-to-day work?

The biggest challenge is a time difference. Sometimes, due to different time zones our users come from, arranging phone calls in a middle of the night can be challenging. Like I said, we try to accommodate our users as much as we can. It is a great opportunity to chat with somebody from the other part of the world. This is what makes it worthwhile.

What do you consider the best part of your job?

The best part is a chance to hear about all those great use cases from our users. The things they do with our solutions are amazing and just to be a part of that is really rewarding. To listen to them, provide them with the best solution and to see the results is just awesome. In that way, I consider myself to play a small part in their projects as well.

Do you have any favorite projects you were doing as a part of GIS Cloud’s team?

Each story is special in its own way so it’s really hard to single out just one of them. I can say that I really love and appreciate NGOs and environmental stories. I love nature and before GIS Cloud, I was working in the Nature Park so this is something I can really relate to.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love to spend my free time in the nature. For example, I enjoy riding a bike, hiking, taking care of my garden, relaxing on the lake, reading books, listening to music… But it must be in the nature. I’m still a member of my scout unit and we have gatherings each month so I try to join them as often as possible. This really charges my batteries.

What are your main professional interests in geography/GIS?

My main interest is environmental protection. Couple of years ago I had a publication on the topic of fire risk management in Croatia and now I have all sorts of great ideas regarding implementation of GIS Cloud in the protection of natural treasures.


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How to Transform Your City Public Works in a Few Simple Steps? Thu, 07 Apr 2016 13:05:32 +0000 Last week (March 31st) we held a webinar “How to Transform your City Public Works in a Few Simple Steps?

This webinar was a part of GIS Cloud Smart Cities series, with a focus on Public Works, Infrastructure and Roadworks Departments in local governments as well as different organizations and businesses dealing with infrastructure maintenance and management.

Watch the recording and find out more about the role of public works, basic requirements for adopting smart solutions in an organization, GIS Cloud platform and, most importantly, real-life examples of smart organizations deploying GIS solutions for improving all segments of their daily workflows.

Want to know more about GIS Solutions for Smart Cities and Public Works? Contact us at:

Want to know how to collect, inspect and visualize data with minimal effort? Our next webinar is scheduled for April 28th, 2016.

You can register here.


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Spatial Vision Showcasing GIS Cloud At Locate 16 Conference Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:29:21 +0000 Locate16-Banner-High-Res

GIS Cloud partners for Australia and New Zealand, Spatial Vision, announced that they will be sponsoring the Locate 16 Conference in Melbourne. The conference will be held from 12-14 April 2016 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Locate Conference (Locate16) is the national conference of the spatial and surveying industries of Australia and New Zealand. The event is an initiative of the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI), Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) and Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA).

The Conference program will focus on how the spatial and surveying industries are essential to our prosperity, protection, sustainability and ability to grow (build).

For those who will be attending the conference, Spatial Vision will showcase its products and services, including GIS Cloud, on Stand 23.


Also, there will be an opportunity to listen two presentations offered by Spatial Vision:

Stephen Farrell, Director at Spatial Vision will be a Keynote Speaker at this conference presenting about Melbourne’s Growth, the title of his presentation is “Mind the Gap – The Other side of Melbourne’s Growth”.

Katie Dick, Senior Consultant from Spatial Vision will also present about Women in Victoria – Seeing the divide.
Interested in GIS Cloud support and presence in Australia and New Zealand? For news, updates and special offers, follow Spatial Vision on Twitter.

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Support GIS Cloud proposals at FOSS4G 2016 Tue, 29 Mar 2016 18:06:09 +0000 GIS Cloud at FOSS4G Bonn

Dear GIS Cloud Community,

We are very happy to attend this year’s FOSS4G Conference in Bonn (August 24-26)!

FOSS4G is OSGeo‘s annual global event focused on Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial. Each year, the conference brings together a wide variety of participants and organizations forming a community for sharing ideas, thoughts and enthusiasm for a constantly-expanding field of geospatial.

Our team put together a number of proposals concerning different topics. In order to get a chance for a presentation at the conference, each proposal needs to go through the community voting process. Community review deadline is April 11th, 2015.

If you want to show your support for GIS Cloud team at the conference, join the reviewing process and vote for our submissions:

  • Empowering People in Remote Areas with Offline Mobile Maps
  • How to enrich visually stunning maps with multimedia and other information?
  • Crowdsourcing and Open Data: Enabling Communities to Collaborate
  • Why we decided to build our own vector map engine? And why it’s blazing fast?
  • Give Clean Water – How Field Data Collection is Transforming Non-profit Workflow in Remote Areas
  • QGIS in the Cloud
  • Empowering Firefighting Association with GIS tools that help saving lives
  • How to create a geo app with no coding?
  • MetaSUB – Building a Molecular Portrait of Cities
  • JavaScript – The Future Language of GIS
  • Will GIS expand until it includes Real-time Collaboration?
  • Using SQLite to take maps offline on mobile Devices

You can vote for the proposals here.


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Webinar: How to Transform your City Public Works in a Few Simple Steps? Thu, 24 Mar 2016 14:02:12 +0000 City Works GIS webinarHow to increase effectiveness of Public Works and City Infrastructure and Maintenance Departments? How to save time and money in Roadworks using GIS? What are the steps necessary to improve internal workflows in order to make an organization smart?

Making your city smart doesn’t mean only increasing public engagement. To create a smart community and organizations, first thing to have in mind is making sure that all your departments and internal structures are working smoothly.

That is why we decided to continue with ‘Smart City’ series of webinars with a sharp focus on making city Infrastructure, Public Works and Roadworks departments more efficient with the help of GIS Solutions.

Webinar time and date:

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

At 8:00am PST    11:00am EST    15:00 GMT



Following Topics Will Be Covered:

  • How to smarten-up internal organizations by realizing the value of real-time collaboration
  • Increasing Public Works, Infrastructure and Roadworks Departments effectiveness with the help of GIS
  • Real life use cases

Who Should Attend:

  • Local and federal governments and their departments who are interested in improving overall efficiency in their workflows
  • Public Works, City Infrastructure, Planning and Management, Roadworks and other Departments that could benefit from smart software solutions
  • Local governments interested in Smart City projects
  • Consultants who want to help their clients to transform their businesses and organizations
  • Contractors and small businesses who want to scale up their internal organizations and improve collaboration with clients

Interested in finding out more about GIS Cloud smart solutions for local and federal governments? Contact us at:


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GIS is Radically Transforming Non-Profit Interventions Around The World Wed, 23 Mar 2016 16:57:44 +0000 An Interview with Darrel Larson (Give Clean Water Initiative)

Darrel Larson, as a chairman and founder of Give Clean Water Initiative, shared his experiences and daily challenges working with a non-profit initiative, insights on the game-changing role of GIS in his area of work and how technology is becoming more and more accessible to non-experts. He is currently leading GIS data collection process in Liberia which involves country-wide county surveys, tracking thousands of drilled wells, and tracking the distribution of over 100,000 clean drinking filter systems.

Liberia Give Clean Water

What used to take hours, days, weeks or even months – to share data through handwritten forms, then transferring them to Excel worksheets, now can all be shared in real time using GIS technology. The power of this technology is radically transforming the efficiency by which non profits can deliver life changing interventions around the world.

Introduce yourself, the Give Clean Water Initiative and your mission. How did you come to the idea for the Initiative?

My name is Darrel Larson, and I’m the founder and chairman of the board for Give Clean Water. Since 2008, we’ve been providing a sustainable clean drinking water solution for the people of Fiji in partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health. I’m also working as a consultant for Sawyer Products, the maker of the Point One water filter system that is used around the world. I’m teaching other non-profits how to use the Sawyer water filter in a sustainable way, while incorporating GIS training to track projects around the world.

In 2008, I was looking for a place to do a clean drinking water project, since contaminated water consumption was one of the biggest problems in the world. I chose Fiji because I had a great relationship and network of people there. Our goal has been to give clean drinking water to everyone in Fiji.

What projects are you currently working on? What are the accomplishments that you are most proud of so far?

I’m currently working on the clean water project in Fiji, and also a big project in Liberia, Africa. In Fiji, we work directly with the Fiji Ministry of Health to determine the villages that are most vulnerable to contaminated water. Once identified, Give Clean Water uses GIS software to mark village households, collect water source data, and track water related health problems. We follow up with households at the 2 week, 8 week, and 1 year mark to document changes in health and sustainability of the project.

In Liberia, I’m part of an effort to give clean drinking water border to border, in every household, by December of 2020. The opportunity to work on this project was a direct result of the successes we’ve had in Fiji. I’m leading the GIS data collection process in Liberia which involves country-wide county surveys, tracking thousands of drilled wells, and tracking the distribution of over 100,000 clean drinking filter systems.

Liberia Water Filters

How does your regular working day look like? Are there any interesting stories from the field you would like to share with us?

A typical day for me involves developing and fine tuning GIS data forms used to execute the projects in Fiji and Liberia. I also create the training materials for all the non-profit teams that are involved in water filter distribution. I work directly with a non-profit called The Last Well, who is organizing the Liberia effort. I help them to map out progress of that project, and to train and support the teams that are installing the water filter systems. I’m also actively involved in networking all the stakeholders together to ensure this collaborative effort can be achieved. I’m also helping to put together a big study with Johns Hopkins University on the effectiveness of eliminating diarrhea from children 0-5 years old.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

One of the biggest challenges of my work is working with different cultures and the behavior change associated with sustainability. Leading teams from different cultures presents many communication challenges. There are many teams involved in our projects who have limited cell phone coverage and limited internet availability. Language differences present challenges, as well as cultural norms and values.

Another big challenge is working in partnership with some leading universities around the world on this project. We’re involved in a couple of scientific studies showing the efficacy of decreasing cases of diarrhea by using the Sawyer water filters. Working with a bunch of highly educated research doctors definitely keeps me on my toes. I’m always learning new things, which is good.

What is the role of new technologies in the Non-profit sector and initiatives? Do you think that much has changed in the way things are done because of recent technological advancements such as expansion of smartphones?

Technology is rapidly impacting the non-profit world in great ways. What used to take hours, days, and weeks, or months, to share data through handwritten forms, then transferring them to Excel worksheets, now can all be shared in real time using GIS technology. The power of this technology is radically transforming the efficiency by which non profits can deliver life changing interventions around the world.

What is amazing is, even in the poorest countries in the world, everyone has cell phones. Smart phones and tablets are becoming more common and affordable. Because of that, things that would have once been impossible, are now very possible! The world is shrinking all around us. There was a day not that long ago that I could have never communicated with people in other countries. Now, they are my Facebook friends and I can use Messenger, Skype, and other technologies to communicate with people all around the world. It’s truly amazing.

Liberia Water

“If I can set up the software, anyone can! That’s the beauty of it. I love the ease and power of this product! I sound like I’m doing a commercial for GIS Cloud, but I’m serious, this is one of the most intuitive products I’ve ever used.”

Using Mobile Data Collection is a part of of your fieldwork. How does this kind of software influence your daily decision-making and coordination with the team? Would you recommend similar approach to others who are working on similar field projects of non-profit initiatives?

Mobile Data Collection has changed my entire work process. What I love is the simple user interface. GIS Cloud has done all the heavy lifting of coding and made a very user friendly solution for me. I don’t write code, so after a lot of researching other GIS products, GIS Cloud Mobile Data Collection became the best solution for me. I believe there are huge opportunities for other non-profits to embrace this technology as part of their workflow. The ease of use, and the power of real time results, even off the cell or internet networks, is so powerful! The ROI a non-profit receives from this type of technology more than pays for itself. Once you use it, you would never want to go back. It would be like returning to the stone age without using GIS. Once non-profits recognize this value, it will become embraced world wide.

As somebody who doesn’t have background in geography and GIS, what is your opinion on the general benefits/importance of mapping technology in working on global initiatives in remote locations?

What I love most about GIS Cloud is that they do all the heavy lifting of the software coding. I am not a software engineer. I’m a project manager who happened to find out about the power of GIS technology. My challenge was, how can I harness the power of this technology without being an engineer. Then I found GIS Cloud. That was a game changer for me. Not only was the software solution perfect for a person like me, but it was affordable.

What I have loved most though is GIS Cloud’s commitment to customer service. They are simply the best at it I’ve ever seen. If I ever have a problem in the field, or while developing a GIS form, I simply contact their premium support department and in less than 24 hours, usually much faster, I have a solution! I am separated by 8 time zones from GIS Cloud headquarters, so naturally there are some minor time constraints, but they are really good at what they do! Good customer service is hard to come by these days, so the GIS Cloud team is a breath of fresh air!

Liberia Field Data Collection with Smartphones

Many influencers in the field claim that one of the most important trends in GIS software adoption is its democratization. Did you have any difficulties in setting up your project without previous experience in the field using cloud GIS technology and do you agree that it is a kind of software that could be used by anyone?

If I can set up the software, anyone can! That’s the beauty of it. I will say that not all personality types will enjoy working with GIS. For example, my wife probably would hate it. Haha! But if you like systems, and actually like getting powerful results with a few easy steps, then GIS Cloud’s solutions are for you. I love the ease and power of this product! I sound like I’m doing a commercial for GIS Cloud, but I’m serious, this is one of the most intuitive products I’ve ever used.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now, we’ve just cleared the first 67,000 clean water filters from customs in Liberia, so that project is about to be in full swing. I’m helping lead a clean water relief effort in Fiji as they’ve just experienced a direct hit from the most powerful cyclone ever recorded a few weeks ago.

Down the road, I hope to take the systems we’ve created in Fiji and Liberia, and pass it along to other non profits around the world so we can see some dramatic life change happen in our lifetime!

Follow Give Clean Water Initiative on Facebook.

Want to try out Mobile Data Collection for yourself? Sign up here.


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Importance of Open Data for Local Governments Tue, 08 Mar 2016 18:09:21 +0000 How can local and federal governments contribute to the digital transformation, citizen engagement and information transparency?

Conference panelists. Photo: Marta Reljanović, KSET fotosekcija

Some of these questions were in focus last weekend (4.-6. of March), when CodeAcross and OpenDataDay events were held in Zagreb. Events included different panels focusing on information science curriculums and the importance of open data for governments and communities. Weekend hackaton that followed panel discussions motivated projects focused on public education infrastructure such as public schools geocoding project. Another related project was connecting and comparing available study programs and corresponding student quotas with available jobs currently listed in National Employment Bureau.

These events emphasized the importance of open data and information transparency for governments in general, especially local. Knowing that the idea of a smart city and smart government relies on data and data collection process, used for simplifying and improving the lives of individuals together with managing public services more efficiently, we could say that open data plays a significant role in creating smarter and more sustainable communities for the future.

photo: Andrea Radmanić,  KSET fotosekcija

photo: Andrea Radmanić, KSET fotosekcija

Open data could serve government officials in different departments for highlighting the value of information transparency in maintaining a good relationship towards the citizens they serve. Open data also enables citizens to engage and improve their communities in correspondence with local government bodies. Disclosing government-held data to the public can help enhance services to citizens applying not only to different citizen initiatives such as CodeAcross and OpenDataDay, but also by improving coordination among agencies, internal and external stakeholders.

For example City of Canton portal includes information about various services, ranging from public transportation and infrastructure to road closure applications. This enables various departments to visualise their data in a single map portal and at the same time helping citizens and other stakeholders to stay informed about city zoning or available properties.

Having this in mind, one other thing not to be forgotten is that local government’s dedication towards open data can also bring economic benefits to the community. 2013 McKinsey report stated that making open data has the potential to create $3 trillion in value worldwide. Releasing public data in exportable formats inspires developers like those who attended last week’s hackathon to create different software applications that may also serve to start-up new businesses and initiatives, opening new jobs and returning back through tax money to the local economy.

Hackaton. Photo: Josipa Vragolov, KSET fotosekcija

Hackaton. Photo: Josipa Vragolov, KSET fotosekcija

This was recognized in the highest political circles of american government, when in the same year of the McKinsley report prediction, president Barack Obama stated that:

Openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth.

The same goes for the UK Government investing a £1.5 million to support open data initiatives, its Cabinet Office Minister stating:

We know that it creates a more accountable, efficient and effective government. Open Data is a raw material for economic growth, supporting the creation of new markets, business and jobs and helping us compete in the global race.

We could say that there is no time left to waste when we talk about local government initiatives towards opening the data for public use. Geospatial data, especially, is a key for a smart, sustainable and successful communities, revealing crime rates in neighborhoods, road closures, potholes or nearest health facilities. Data can be used in preventing diseases, sanitation planning in case of floods, managing district heating needs or helping the homeless population. Geospatial data is a crucial source for predicting which areas of the city are at risk during a flooding or a heat wave.

Open data enables citizens to be more involved with different governmental decisions, at the same time increasing accountability and transparency. It is the transforming agent of change, creating a whole new approach on the ways of communication between the citizens and their governments.

Looking for a way to involve citizens and make a first steps towards being a smart city? Check out a recording of GIS Cloud Smart Cities – City Portal webinar.


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