[SDI-Africa] [SIMaC] Kenya elections crisis & SDI
Michiel van Hasselt
HASSELT at unhcr.org
Tue Jan 8 07:22:27 EST 2008
Even (less) funnier is that fact that when this situation occurs none of us have the time to think of the long term solutions, but can only focus on the short term products (yet another map).
I cannot imagine how many people have already been trying to produce some sort of "post election violence" map or another, running around looking for data to add to it.
Good points Mick! We need to get together again, and keep the SDI momentum going!
>>> "Craig von Hagen" <craigvonhagen at yahoo.co.uk> 01/08/08 02:41pm >>>
Mick makes a very valid point.
We find the same situation in Somalia, where every time a crisis hits;
everyone is running around looking for datasets.
We give out a lot of Somalia data, but only rarely do we receive updates or
enhancements on the datasets. Consequently everyone loses track of the
latest dataset and in the end we always fall back to the old data that is
not much use in the first place.
The offer stands, we can at least publish the metadata of your dataset (at
http://geonetwork.faoswalim.org:8080/geonetwork) and we can also make it
available for download. DEPHA have offered to host dataset in an online WMS
or WFS which will then allow everyone to access the datasets (regardless of
which software is being used) and know the exact source of the dataset.
Up to now only UNHCR-Somalia has given us a dataset to publish on their
behalf!! Where are the rest?
From: sdi-africa-bounces at lists.gsdi.org
[mailto:sdi-africa-bounces at lists.gsdi.org] On Behalf Of Kate Lance
Sent: 08 January 2008 14:22
Subject: [SDI-Africa] Kenya elections crisis & SDI
Mick makes a link between Kenya's recent security issues, due to the
elections, and information management...
a good example of why spatial data infrastructure is a worthwhile
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Mick Wilson <MickWilson20 at gmail.com>
To: sdi-ea at als.unep.org
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 11:58:54 AM
Subject: [Sdi-ea] [SDI East Africa] Life and Times in Nairobi
The post-election violence in various parts of Kenya was front-page news for
at least two or three days, a remarkably long period. Kenya will be months
or years recovering from the aftermath, one dimension of which is more than
200,000 people estimated by the UN
<http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25229&Cr=kenya&Cr1=> to have
been displaced. Setting up camps and safe-guarding the inhabitants, ensuring
food and medical supplies, establishing and maintaining sanitation are task
that will keep UN agencies, NGOs, IGOs, church groups and the Government
engaged long after the story has ceased to be even page 10 newsworthy.
The crisis has - no surprise here - exposed a number of shortcomings in the
management of the information needed to plan and manage responses. The story
has been the same old confusion, duplication, crossed efforts and lost time
that always seems to mark such times. Yes, of course, crises always occur at
the most inconvenient time and the circumstances in Kenya were particularly
confounding - key staff are out of town or out of the country because it's
still holiday time here means that many ; the UN in Nairobi effectively
closed down for the whole Christmas - New Year week and then stayed closed
for the first week of January, with staff ostensibly 'working' from home so
no access to servers or datasets that weren't visible to the internet; some
key staff who happen to have data on their computers can't get to office
safely. Mostly, though it exposes the fact that few agencies as yet manage
and publish their data in ways that enable true use and re-use a la SDI.
Pertinent points include:
* UN bodies in New York seeking to upgrade their security plans for
Nairobi, and looking for the data used to create the last set of maps,
couldn't find them and contacted me (at home) by e-mail (on a Friday night)
wondering if I could find the right people they think might have had the
* the custodians of the data respond, but one's out of town on
holiday, one is in town but cannot get to the office, and anyway the data
are on the hard disk of a third staff member's PC and they don't have the
* the data were never published to the web, nor was their metadata,
because they were prepared as a small contract job and no-one thought
there'd be any re-use. Whoops.
* a colleague in another agency not only has the requested data (not
just the PDFs) but even better built up for their own purposes since, but
shouldn't distribute them as per agreement with their originator... but then
again his agency has rectified the data and extended their attributes so,
yes, okay, he sends the data to New York, who are appropriately
* ...except that the data dispatched are in a proprietary format
because that's what they use in their office. Does New York use the same
software? I have no idea but would think it a damn shame if NY couldn't use
the data for lack of a software license...
* ...and, meanwhile, a third colleague charged with coordinating
information management for humanitarian response is sending out requests to
the same people for the same type of data, admittedly for different
application but still involving the same players in more work.
They foregoing highlights just how far we have to go with an exercise like
SDI-EA before we can claim real legitimacy:
* where is the one-stop shop catalogue discovery system that would
enable to New York to at least confirm the identity of the custodian of the
original data? Such catalogues are alive and kicking in Nairobi (see
FAO/SWALIM's <http://geonetwork.faoswalim.org/> GeoNetwork node) as
resources for the community - why aren't they being used?
* where are the metadata being routinely published that describe the
sort of interim data products that underlay the UN security plans, that in a
very real sense have been produced using taxpayers money, but are allowed to
languish in dark cupboards?
* where is the sense of planning for re-use, of seeking to maximize
return-on-investment on these data products? Why is it not yet routine that
all data end up in managed repositories from where maybe they could be
published to the web? in vendor-neural formats that guarantee their
* where are the instances data improvers being willing to return to
the data originator the enhancements that they've made? Can we ever expect
to do better than using the same old tired framework layers from DCW or
whatever if no-one is prepared to feed back to authoritative custodians
their improvements made to baseline products?
* where are the mechanisms by which data improvements can be proposed
or lodged? How many data distributors have procedures in place for dealing
with feedback from their users when it comes to quality improvement?
Sorry to start the New Year with a rant like this but these issues are to
important to not grasp an opportunity to highlight them. Fine we can talk
melodramatically about "life and death situations in Kenya" and not be
entirely exaggerating, but even the prosaic tasks of getting food
distributed to camps on time, or ensuring that water is tanked from the most
accessible clean sources, can help alleviate an otherwise completely
miserable situation for thousands and thousands of people.
Posted By Mick Wilson to SDI East Africa
1/08/2008 12:56:00 PM
Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo
<http://us.rd.yahoo.com/evt=51438/*http:/www.yahoo.com/r/hs> your homepage.
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