In this week GeoInterview, we’ll be talking to a team of incredible ladies who recently presented some stunning GIS solutions developed over the period of their Esri EA training programme. They’ll be telling us about their experience through the programme and how beneficial it can be to other students and recent graduates. So brace yourself to meet our interviewees…
Our interviewees are Chelsea Lulu, Alexandra Mutungi and Louisa Masembe who went through the Esri Eastern Africa students training programme to equip them with skills on cutting edge technology in the GIS industry.
Alexandra pursued a BSc in Environmental Science from Kabarak University and spent an earlier spell of her internship with Tsavo & Samburu National Park where she discovered how essential GIS is in environmental conservation. (in her words she say: I was interested in the environment and its dynamics!). Thereafter she successfully applied for the Esri Ea student training program.
Louisa; Before joining the training program worked in a Survey environment in Kampala. Louisa is a Mining and Mineral Processing Engineer with a BSc degree from JKUAT.
Whereas, Chelsea a 3rd Year Geospatial Engineering student from the Technical University of Kenya, well, she definitely is a #GeoGirl with what can only be termed as a brilliant academic records.
So Louisa, Chelsea and Alex what was the training programme all about, how would you term your experience and would you recommend it to other students or recent graduates?
Chelsea: the programme is more of a learning opportunity. That is you get to learn ArcGIS and use it to develop solutions for every possible industry that leverage GIS as a technology which is basically all fields. My experience of the programme was amazing! I got to work on several projects with my fellow interns using ArcGIS technology and got a full understanding of ArcGIS and everything it entails.
Alex: We went through intense training on the ArcGIS Platform, that is, using ArcGIS Online, on Desktop and Server as well as a number of Extensions. The training also entailed creating GIS-based solutions from customized applications for various organizations specific utilities. Most of it was team work alongside individual projects. The internship was a great opportunity for us to expand our IT and GIS skills and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to develop practical solutions for real life problems.
Louisa: The training programme generally entailed individual learning for the various ArcGIS software’s, working on a team project and eventually completing an individual project all utilizing ArcGIS tools. In addition to that, we were able to work on various client projects enabling us to understand the kind of work involved in using GIS to provide tailored business solutions. I would recommend the programme to other graduates as it gives a real sense of what GIS entails, and where it can be applied here in the various industries.
So tell us about your project.
Alex: My individual project was on creating a solution for Malaria Information Management in Kenya. Maps are a great way to disseminate information even through telling stories. Also the fight against malaria has seenquite remarkable methods of information dissemination; Video and mobile games have been developed around this. I created a Story Map to give a general overview of the state of malaria in Kenya and the interventions currently in place. In addition, how ArcGIS can support these interventions. I also customized two applications: one for the reporting of potential malaria cases by the public and the second for malaria public health officers to summarize, analyze and share information with relevant stakeholders in order to efficiently manage Malaria menace.
View the Story Map here
Malaria/Mosquito related service request application here
Louisa: Following the increase in the number of buildings collapsing in Nairobi county, a strategic intervention was needed for monitoring compliance, quality assurance and in the event of similar scenarios a system for disaster management and recovery planning. My project entailed using the ArcGIS Platform to provide a Building Management System for the relevant authorities (Nairobi County and NCA). For disaster management planning the system used ArcGIS geoprocessing service to estimate building population thus allowing for dispatch of various utility services in the event a tragedy. It seemed of significant importance to bring forth a management system that allowed authorities to use web applications to monitor buildings and building constructions, and further use web and mobile applications to conduct inspections, provide a means of access of specific relevant information for field and office workforce such as building legality to the public and provide the public, a means to submit their building complaints to the relevant bodies.
Chelsea: My project was about using GIS to improve service delivery in the Nairobi City Council.The project is set to demonstrate the value of GIS tailored apps in managing non-emergency cases, the various components of the developed system include a mobile and web front-end applications for reporting cases to the relevant authority in this case the City Council, a Back-end web based interface for the Council Officers to receive the reports and dispatch field officers accordingly and an Executive dashboard for Visualization and Analysis to. The ultimate goal is to help in planning and scheduling field workforce and make service delivery efficient to improve the City environs.
In the Geospatial realm, what are you most interested in?
Louisa: Data. Data. Data. Spatial analysis based on quality datasets yields effective solutions to scenarios.
Alex: Business solutions leveraging location based IT infrastructure.
So Louisa: Your are a Mining and Mineral Processing Engineer, how did you decide to focus on GIS? Any special reason for the transition?
It wouldn’t be a transition as such, however, I decided to focus on GIS for the obvious fact that Location Analytic is an crucial element in planning whichever industry you may be practicing in. In mining, GIS is utilized in mine planning as it allows one to manage mine environments, monitor and manage assets, locate and analyse minerals siting, and manage logging data, just to name a few. With that in mind, it was important for me to understand the right way to use geographical data for planning. Not only was I able to discover the potential applications of GIS to mining but to other industries as well.
Lastly, give me your favorite GIS quotes…this should be interesting.
Alex: “ Maps are like campfires – everyone gathers around them because, they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement about how to help the land”. ~ Sonoma Ecology Center
Chelsea: “Maps are 100% content.” ~ Edward Tufte
Louisa:“The application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who use it”. ~ Jack Dangermond
I have come to understand that the only limitations to using GIS lie within one’s ability to allow themselves to imagine. The earth is one big geography and everything existing on it has a spatial aspect. The key seems to lie with finding and connecting the spatial aspects of the problem, and attempting to utilize GIS to solve the problem. I guess you can say it’s not only about having all the information but using just the right information for the right problem.