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GIS in Crisis Mapping in for Humanitarian Action Essay

Strategizing a GIS Application to be utilized in Crisis Mapping for Humanitarian Action

Introduction – 

The current world is facing critical issues such as natural disasters and political instability. The developing countries constitute regions that are affected by natural catastrophes like wars, floods, disease and earthquake. The affected individuals, therefore, require humanitarian aid to fight the disasters and help in recovery. The existing world technological development has contributed significantly to enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of warning systems. GIS is an example of ICT potential in improving communication in crisis zones. However, security and access challenges are likely to occur while using this technology. Because of political and socio-economic reasons, developing countries facing the crisis may lack appropriate technology for communication. For instance, poor network and lack electricity that may make it hard for the IT infrastructure to coordinate and function well. Besides, security issues involving the safety of data, personnel, and the local community are prominent in these countries. To overcome these challenges, it is important to invest in better communication technologies that can help transmission of information without compromising our security and that of the community members. According to Meier and leaning (2009), ICT play critical roles in facilitating communication in crisis zone and collection of salient conflict data, both qualitative and quantitative.

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ICT enhances the process of visualization and aids in analyzing patterns. Human thinking is necessary when making decisions based on geography. However, understanding of geography can increase knowledge on how people relate to location and help in making informed decisions about a scenario. GIS is an example of a technological tool that helps in understanding geography and making informed decisions. It arranges data in a way that a person can select valuable data for an individual project. An appropriate GIS program can process data from different sources and combine it into a project. Communication of information plays a fundamental role in early conflict warning, crisis mapping and response to the humanitarian action. Using maps in humanitarian intervention is a phenomenon that started early. However, the emergence of new technologies allows live mapping that allows map presentation of events and stories. The best type of GIS program is one with the ability to process geographic data from different sources and incorporate it in the map project. Various countries have sufficient geographic data, and in some GIS, datasets are available to the public. It is also important to strategize on a GIS program that has designing that allows sophisticated calculations. This program can track disasters like hurricanes and predict erosion patterns. This paper aims at strategizing a GIS application to use in crisis mapping for a humanitarian action. The hope is that the program might improve its effect in early conflict warning, mapping the crisis and response to the humanitarian intervention.

What resource, application, or solution are you providing?

Although many organizations have implemented GIS systems successfully. It is clear that two-dimensional maps containing complex contours and color scheme cannot accurately present multidimensional and dynamic spatial phenomena. Appropriate planning is crucial in ensuring the success of a GIS program. The planning process entails assessing the needs, which help in defining the objectives of the program. The designing of GIS used in the current world lack the capacity to support multidimensional data and therefore they can store and process large volumes of data and cannot support rich semantics. Additionally, the need to access spatial data has grown extensively.

The solution to solve mapping issues is through establishing a technology that has the capability of combining GIS and multimedia to provide graphical, textual and animated communications. Use of separate programs can pose problems. Therefore, developing a program that incorporates GIS and multimedia can help overcome the challenges as it can present geographical data and other information. Combining several media can provide a strong data presentation with information capable of enhancing retention of information and stimulate the interest of information to the audience. Use of media and graphics can also make the GIS program easier and user-friendly. Use of multimedia technologies can provide the GIS with an environment that promotes spatial data utilization and analysis. The outcome of this is an advantageous system.

In the current world, some GIS software is available online at a cost or freely as open source. One software that is widely used is the ArcGIS that is offered by ESRI. ArcGIS system is useful creating geographical data. Many scientists and researchers have used this platform in the past because of its ability to integrate data from various sources and put them in a standard management system in a web, or computer application ArcGIS is capable of providing communication while using animation, video, and graphics thereby overcoming the limitations of using separate technologies

Besides, it helps in managing, integrating, analyzing and disseminating data. Government and some agencies are privileged to have access and resources that enable them to use GIS systems while conducting their analysis and reporting. However, some NGOs and organizations lack enough resources to enable them, use GIS effectively. It is important for humanitarian agencies to invest in new GIS applications even they are expensive. These technologies provide potential solution to the increasing humanitarian crises.

Who would you be providing this for/ what is your target audience?

This GIS program is meant for humanitarian organizations and crisis mappers to use in their operations. This program can help these organizations and mappers identify areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters such as fire, earthquakes, storms, floods and cyclones. They can also use this program to predict disasters likely to occur in the future accurately. This program would help crisis mappers in mapmaking. This is possible since GIS is capable of using and combining all layers in an area and come up with an overlay for analysis. The analysis of the overlays changes the process of decision making like emergency response planning. For instance, they can combine road system and information on earth science to analyze the impacts of a possible earthquake.

What is your intended outcome of your solution?

The expected result of using multimedia GIS is to have a high-resolution satellite imagery that can supplement the vector base data. The other expectation is to have informative topographic maps to use in relief mission. Besides, I intend that the program will help in providing an accurate picture of a scenario to know the magnitude of the damage and have the ability to prioritize needs and efforts. Finally, I intend that the program will help in identification of risk areas and assist in developing management planning.

How will you secure initial funding to develop and implement this new GIS Application?

Funding is essential for this initiative. The funding I need will enable acquisition of necessary software and hardware useful in the GIS program implementation. To realize the goal of coming up with a new GIS application, I will look for organizations that provide grants to trainers and institutions for GIS development and implementation.


What data will you be using?

This program will be using spatial data that is in the format of vector and raster data. Raster data will contain a scan of an existing map. It will provide coordinates leaving out description of features. Vector data will, on the other hand, provide function and coordinates of lines that can be found in the database. I will be

using terrain data, base maps. Besides, I will use remotely sensed images that consist of satellite and aerial photography. I will also use vector files data to show administrative boundaries. Finally, I will use human and situation data that I will obtain from beneficiary population in their locations.

How will you collect the data?

I will look for NASA database that provides a free dataset. Digital elevation model can help to represent terrain such the valleys and hills. I will also scan map images and look for multiple vector data layers. Finally, I will collect human and situation information in the areas I have mapped by conducting field assessments and search for partners in that location for details.

How will the data need to be edited?

Geographical data has various formats. In the case of vector data, shapefile is the format. I will open a shapefile and use GIS tools to edit the data within the GIS software package to avoid data inconsistencies.

What data editing processes will you have to use?

A shapefile has a single vector data that is either a point, line or a polygon. First, I have to open a shapefile to view the record in the file. Then I should select the file I need to edit and make the necessary changes and save those changes. However, this editing should be within the GIS software package that I am using in marking position vectors that will need later editing.

Provide a Collaboration Model (this can be sketch or flowchart) outlining the stakeholder representation and data exchange and communication linkages


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What methods of analysis will be provided?

The analysis method to provide is the spatial statistical analysis as it offers a contextual comprehension of the world. Computer tools will be used to analyze several sets of spatial data. The analysis will also entail superimposing various map layers. Using commands, I will choose, save and extract multiple measurements from the data sets and create new sets of data.

What information do you intend this new GIS Application to provide?

The intention is that the new GIS application will provide crucial, reliable and up to date information on where the populations requiring humanitarian aid are located. These areas are worst affected, and these require an emergency response.

This information helps in planning and coordination of relief interventions. The new GIS application should be able to provide maps for the affected areas with landmarks. GPS coordinates to track the location. Mapped information is crucial when in operation to respond to a disaster as they help in prioritizing areas that require an immediate response.

What hardware, software, and network requirements will be necessary?

A GIS has several core elements that are the people, data, software, hardware and procedures. Hardware is a major factor that that determines the speed of the GIS. Besides, it can also affect the software. The hardware necessary is the computers, GPS, Laptops, mobile phone, printers and hard disk. The GIS software necessary is the ESRI ArcGIS this software will meet needs of the end-users and will help the GIS solve the intended problems. The network requirements include data. Data refer to the information used in the GIS. Obtaining geophysical data is expensive (Maguire 2013), and therefore great care on data is important. GIS uses data from different sources. Therefore, to have a quality GIS requires maintenance of quality data. The type of GIS data to use includes vector data that represents Earth features in the form of points, lines, and polygons. It will also use raster data that will be in the form of single square cells. Other technical infrastructures include the Internet that acts as an important source of information for GIS technology.

How will users access the information?

In a GIS, the output function encompasses dissemination of information to the users. The users will be able to obtain the hard copy with the information in a remote location. Users can also get the information as a softcopy that contains computer compatible shapefiles that can be transmitted from any computer system to another. It is the composition of users, data, systems and human experts that make the GIS application.

What methods of display and cartography will you use?

The display method to use will be the standard format and the cartographic format. The standards format for vector data is shapefiles. Using the cartographic form, I will ensure the map provides clear communication and relevant information to meet its intended purpose. I will also ensure that the map has boundaries that show landmarks usable as a reference point for the people not familiar with the area. Then, I will ensure the key features in the map clearly stand out and limit the number of symbols, use simplified colors, and use label appropriately. Using the above rules, I will be able to provide a map that provides useful information to users. Thus, they will not misunderstand the information and make poor decisions that may adversely affect the humanitarian action (Map Action, 2011)

• Provide a sample map/report (this can be an example or a visual sketch)

Image result for Provide a sample map SKETCH THAT display and cartography will you use?


• What ongoing maintenance will be required (Data, Technical hardware, software, network)?

It is vital to ensure that the IT critical Infrastructure is safe and stable. Software maintenance provides security and stability of this infrastructure. The ongoing maintenance required involve upgrading the software and guarantee the safety of the software. To maintain the security of data and the software will require regular changing of passwords and encryption of data to ensure unauthorized parties do not access the data. It is also to have user passwords in computers, GPS hardware and storage devices.

What obstacles or challenges might stand in your way, and how do you plan to overcome them?

In the process of developing and implementing a new application, problems are likely to occur. The biggest problem is the program funding issues for long-term purposes. This is because in some instances, there will be software and hardware will require upgrades to meet the user needs. The program may also take time before it gets accredited and articulated. However, to ensure success and eliminate the

Challenges, I intend to dedicate much effort towards advertising and marketing of my program. I will seek fund from different organizations, and some commit some of the funds towards marketing and advertising. Use of marketing and advertising strategies may be expensive now, but in the end, the efforts will pay.

What opportunities lie ahead from your findings and solutions?

Humanitarian action response needs efficient sharing of geographical information (Durham, 2010). The results and solutions provide innovation opportunities to provide technologies that enable efficient sharing of information. Overcoming the mapping challenges and improving the humanitarian action calls for designing and developing effective communications technology. Some of the communication ICTs forms used today include radios, internet warlike talkies. However, in some disaster-prone areas especially the developing countries lack the ICT and infrastructure making hard to communicate. The solution in such countries is the use of technologies that can provide effective communication that can enable quick response action to disasters.


. GIS helps in facilitating, coordinating and executing humanitarian aid relief exertions in the upcoming countries. Despite being expensive, it important to develop and implement a GIS program that that has the capability of using combining different features. Combining a GIS with multimedia can provide graphical and media communications. The use of media and graphics helps a GIS user-friendly and can save time to identify areas that require an immediate humanitarian response. The best type of GIS program is one with the ability to process geographic data from different sources and incorporate it in the map project. An easy to use and the interactive program can help create a useful system that can help provide quick response to disasters.

References: GIS in Crisis Mapping in for Humanitarian Action Essay

Durham. 2010. GIS and humanitarian aid. Web, 20th March 2017. Retrieved from

Maguire D.J 2013. An Overview and Definition Of GIS. Web 29 March 2017. Retrieved from

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Map Action 2011. Field guide to humanitarian mapping. Web. 20th March 2017. Retrieved from

Meier p. Leaning, J. 2009. Applying Technology To Crisis Mapping And Early Warning In Humanitarian Settings. Web. 19th March 2017. Retrieved from