March 4, 2015 | 0 comments

Amidst a vast amount of data and specifications on numerous Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that can help populations in disasters, emergencies, impoverished situations and other scenarios, there are few catalogues that can compile such data into an easy-to-use and easy-to-navigate database. One such effort has been undertaken by the Kopernik Impact Tracker Technology Catalogue, funded by the Impact Economy Innovations Fund in East and Southeast Asia, with support by the Rockefeller Foundation and Asia Community Ventures. The information in the tracker includes Digital Data Collection Maps, SMS Communication Platforms, Geospatial Mapping Tools and Remote Sensor for use by NGOs, social enterprise and community organizations, and other actors seeking to help populations through ICTs. The catalogue is found here:

According to the site, “tools in the digital data collection apps and SMS communication platform categories are assessed along the following 5 criteria, which are critical determinants from a user perspective.”
1.Affordability: Prices of monthly subscription plans, as well as running costs.
2.Usability: Richness and user-friendliness of features offered.
3.Rapidity: Ability to send and receive large volumes of data on a real-time basis.
4.Scalability: Ability to handle multiple services, multiple users, and high data load at...

March 2, 2015 | 0 comments

We’ve seen some incredible innovations in bicycle technology lately, from self-charging components such as the Copenhagen Wheel to designer fixies by Diesel. But what happens to these and all other bikes when their owners move on? That’s where Guatemalan NGO Maya Pedal comes in: they transform donated bicycles into pedal-powered machines including water pumps, blenders and tile makers for use where electricity is too expensive or inaccessible. We say more (pedal) power to you, Maya Pedal! Check out the video by Makeshift to learn more about this brilliant innovation:

March 2, 2015 | 0 comments

Researchers are using the new Biosurveillance Gateway Web site to map epidemics in order better to understand and prevent deadly diseases. The Web site relies on lab databases and tools from around the world, so that registered health officials and researchers can track outbreaks better to predict how a pathogen might spread in the United States and elsewhere. Though still in its beta state, the Web site provides spread information and mapping on a variety of diseases, including ones that only infect animals or plants. Theoretical computational software is integrated into the maps to help predict what a future epidemic might do, and the histories of recorded outbreaks across the globe are presented for comparison:

March 2, 2015 | 0 comments

When the American Red Cross first arrived in West Africa to assist with the 2014 Ebola epidemic, the organization was faced with an empty slate. “The original map we were looking at for West Africa was almost blank,” said Dale Kunce, a senior geospatial engineer and GIS team lead for the Red Cross. “You didn’t just not know where the buildings were, you didn’t know where the towns were, where the roads were, what roads connected which towns. If a patient at a treatment center said they were from whatever hamlet, you didn’t know where that was.”

Today, thanks in large part to OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, when a patient names their village or hamlet, health officials and aid workers have the resources to quickly determine not only where the village is located, but the number of homes and general population of the village, as well as which route the patient most likely traveled to reach treatment. This information helps pinpoint which locations are most at risk and therefore in need of education campaigns and contact tracing—following up each day for 21 days (the Ebola incubation period) with people who have been in contact with an Ebola patient.

In OSM, the state of California has more mapping content than the entire African continent, according to Kevin Bullock, a product manager at DigitalGlobe overseeing base map products, and also an OSM contributor and advocate. See more at:...

February 27, 2015 | 0 comments