Crowdmapping in the Midst of a Pandemic (by Map Kibera)

By Peter Agenga of Map Kibera

During the month of April, we are celebrating GeoAwesomeness’s 10 Year anniversary by featuring stories of how mapping and geodata have helped people’s lives. This post is part of a series recognizing the local mapping communities that have been working over the past year to close data gaps in support of Covid-19 responses with funding from HOT Microgrants. You can support HOT’s Microgrant programs by donating through the HOT website.

This post has been cross-posted from Map Kibera.

2020 has been a unique year owing to the fact that the whole world was brought to a stand-still by a global pandemic. Kibera and other informal settlements of Nairobi weren’t spared either. Most of the Kibera residents work as casual labourers and due to the regulations set up by the government, the majority of the residents lost their jobs while some had to shut down their business. This left most of them having to rely on well wishers for any form of support.

In response to this, many organizations came up with initiatives to support the community; this varied from sensitization activities, food and soap distributions, setting up hand wash points and other relevant resources. Map Kibera, having worked with these organizations in other events and activities, partnered with them to:

  • Map out their activities and post them on the Ushahidi-based Kenya Covid-19 tracker; this included training them on how to post their work and offering support in posting them where necessary.
  • Directly support the programmes they were implementing on the ground.

A group photo with representatives of different organizations in Mathare

A group photo with representatives of different organizations in Kiber

Mid this year Map Kibera was awarded the 2020 Rapid response Micro-grant funds by Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to support our Ushahidi deployment. We created the site for tracking Covid-19 cases, resources and news related to Covid-19 —primarily in Kibera as well as the other informal settlements of Nairobi, but also other parts of country. The goal was to keep this information together in one easy place, allowing people to see what is going on around them that might be relevant to them. This was also to aid in our efforts to keep Kibera, one of the most vulnerable communities to illness, healthy during this pandemic.

Joshua doing a live demo of how the Kenya Covid Tracker platform works

Joshua introducing the project to the team from different organizations in Kibera

Some of the participants testing how to add posts on the Ushahidi platform using their mobile phones

The team had already started working remotely, and therefore made use of the online tools for accomplishing the mapping tasks involved in the project. The team used tools like Maps.Mehealthsites.io, and of course OpenStreetMap to work on all the mapping tasks that were agreed upon. The initial training was conducted in form of webinars through Zoom and Google Meet; this was because of government directives on safe distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As the tools mentioned above suggest, the goals of the mapping activity were the following:

  • To train community volunteers on how to add and edit information remotely on OpenStreetMap
  • To ensure timely and accurate health data on OpenStreetMap
  • To improve coverage of maps on health in the country (especially on informal-settlements)

Screenshot of one of the webinars we hosted

Amidst the pandemic, one unique thing that has prevailed is how resilient we can be as humans. In Kibera, our news team KNN captured a story of a lady who used donations given to her to start a business, hence having a more sustainable means of supporting her family.
All these various activities have enabled the organization to achieve new milestones with regards to Open Data. Since map data is dynamic, the Map Kibera team has been able to create new data, and update already existing data. One way has been through data import; around June, we worked closely with UN Habitat by assisting them to mobilize youths from Kibera who we have engaged previously in some of our mapping activities. The exercise saw the team collect basic information about specific features in Kibera relevant to the Covid pandemic. After the exercise, we uploaded this open data into OSM. Considering Map Kibera has done extensive mapping in the area, we needed to ensure there were no duplicates, and if the feature had already been mapped, to update the feature with the new data. The data import process has been documented on wiki. So far we have managed to add and update over 1400 features on OSM in Kibera and Mathare. Later on UN Habitat shared more data with us to import, this saw us cover new areas such as Kawangware and Kisumu (the import for the two new locations is still ongoing).

Our team members from Mathare while on the field to cross-check and verify the data that was imported and checking for any extra information that was not captured

We also have recently trained more community ambassadors on the use of various mapping platforms that are freely available and accessible to the public. This wouldn’t be easy to achieve without the financial and moral support from HOT and all the parties that were involved in the Micro-grant Program.

Update: Map Kibera is currently doing an update of WASH data in Kibera and Mathare and at the same time running a survey of how the two communities coped with the issues of water and sanitation during the pandemic.

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Supporting Coronavirus Response Through Mapping in Liberia (by iLab Liberia)

By Carter Draper of iLab Liberia and Sophie Mower of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
During the month of April, we are celebrating GeoAwesomeness’s 10 Year anniversary by featuring stories of how mapping and geodata have helped people’s lives. This post is part of a series recognizing the local mapping communities that have been working over the past year to close data gaps in support of Covid-19 responses with funding from HOT Microgrants. You can support HOT’s Microgrant programs by donating through the HOT website.

This post has been cross-posted from HOT News.

The first COVID-19 case in Liberia was confirmed in early March 2020, but like most countries in the region, there was no system nor infrastructure in place to curtail the spread of the virus. By July, the country had 1,180 cases (including 623 recovered cases and 75 deaths). Despite efforts from the national government, development actors, and the private sector, new cases have continued to increase across Liberia’s 15 counties. The information available to citizens was limited, with gaps around coronavirus awareness, prevalence of cases, testing availability, and information on where to get tested, quarantined, or treated.

iLab Liberia saw this need for knowledge around healthcare access, open data policies, and infrastructure on the part of citizens, researchers, and responders in contributing to the eradication of coronavirus in Liberia. iLab is a nonprofit tech organization that has supported the central government and the people of Liberia in open data, access to information, peacebuilding, elections, data management, and visualization since 2011.

With funding from HOT’s Rapid Response Microgrant: COVID-19 Program, iLab was able to map all functional healthcare and COVID-19 facilities across Liberia to OpenStreetMap (OSM), and visualized the confirmed COVID-19 cases by creating web maps, infographics, and datasets for public use.

Image of a printable map for county health teams

The three-month project was done exclusively through remote mapping activities, which allowed our community of mappers to work from home in the midst of a national lockdown. Working from home was a huge challenge to mappers in an environment where access to electricity and the internet is limited.

Despite the bureaucracy in data acquisition from line government agencies, the Ministry of HealthNational Public Health Institute, and Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services recognized that our Rapid Response mapping initiative could enhance their efforts in the national response to COVID-19. The data we needed from those organizations was released to us and we were able to effectively use it in our project.

During the project, we mapped 24 hospitals, 750 clinics, and 20 healthcare centers. We also mapped other forms of infrastructure, including 10 Schools, 9 Hotels, 1 Sports Stadium, and 1 Research facility that were being used as COVID-19 facilities. COVID-19 facilities were classified as either:

  • a Precautionary Observation Centers – quarantine centers where suspected cases are monitored.
  • a Testing Centers – facilities where COVID-19 testing is being conducted.
  • a Treatment Unit – facilities where coronavirus patients are treated.

iLab Liberia Country Director presents printed maps to County Health teams officers

Beyond mapping the facilities on OpenStreetMap, we developed and distributed 20 printed maps to the County Health Teams and completed a 2-week social media campaign to ensure the data and products reached as many people and institutions as possible. Our data page consists of digital maps of healthcare and COVID-19 facilities, a wide range of interactive infographics on COVID-19 cases per county, and downloadable datasets available in different formats. We shared this work with our stakeholders and the general public via email exchanges and social media.

Mr. Tijli Tarty Tyee, Jr., the County Health Services Administrator and one of the county health officers who received the printed maps on behalf of the County Health teams, stated that:

“The Ministry including the entire health teams of the 15 counties of Liberia sees your initiative of mapping healthcare facilities across our country to be a vital component to our awareness and prevention campaigns. The government alone cannot do it all, as such institutions like yours will be needed to support our data collection and GIS departments to help build their capacity in order to better serve our people” – Mr. Tijli Tarty Tyee, Jr

Evidence of the demand for our project’s products can be found on our Facebook page. There have been 101 engagements, 16 shares, and 594 people reached excluding audiences on Twitter and Whatsapp. Our website traffic has also increased by 203 unique visitors.

The products that we produced during our project will be used to inform governments, local NGOs, and local communities on where to locate healthcare services and where to get tested, quarantined, or treated for coronavirus. We believe these products can go a long way to support decision-making across organizations and among individuals regarding healthcare and COVID-19 response efforts in Liberia.

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