[OSGeo Africa] RE: [Sdi-ea] Some ideas for directions

Byron Anangwe banangwe at rcmrd.org
Mon Apr 23 08:59:40 EDT 2007

Hello Mick and fellow spammers,

We are happy to participate, particularly so with regard to determining end
user requirements. We will be attending the CODI meeting in Addis also to
make more noise of what we are doing setting up a CORS (continuous GPS)
station within the AFREF project and construction of a satellite DDS.

Kindest regards 
Byron A. Okubasu Anangwe
Data Management & Dissemination Office
Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development - KASARANI
P.O. BOX 632-00618 Ruaraka, 
Nairobi. KENYA.
TEL: +254 20 8560227/1775/0265 (Fixed) 
         +254-722-357528/723-786161/735-981098 (Mobile)
FAX: +254 20 8561673/8563767
EMail: banangwe at rcmrd.org, remotesensing at rcmrd.org,
byron.anangwe at yahoo.co.uk
Visit RCMRD on the web at http://www.rcmrd.org and

-----Original Message-----
From: sdi-ea-bounces at als.unep.org [mailto:sdi-ea-bounces at als.unep.org] On
Behalf Of Mick Wilson
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 2:47 PM
To: sdi-ea at als.unep.org
Cc: Theuri Mwangi; James Osundwa; Johannes Akiwumi; Ernest Imbamba; Alex
Lugadiru; Chris Ambala
Subject: [Sdi-ea] Some ideas for directions

Greetings, listers

I'd like to put in front of you some ideas about where we might take this
SDI-East Africa effort.

But first, please note that I am no longer directly 'spamming' other lists
such as osgeo, SiMAC or TZGISUG; this is not because I think their members
are disinterested but rather that their most motivated members have already
subscribed and, rather then risk annoying the rest of the community, that
we can rely on the motivated ones to pass on news about SDI-EA as they see
appropriate. The invitation of course remains open for members of other
communities to get involved with SDI-EA and can drop me a line or register
themselves at http://als.unep.org/mailman/listinfo/sdi-ea

So, onto the ideas. A few years back Chris Holmes, Alan Doyle and I put a
paper into GSDI-8 in Cairo
 that, amongst other things, posited the idea that amongst the reason why
open source is a Good Thing in Developing Countries is that it opens up
the possibility for what in Kenya we'd describe as jua kali software
development or customization. In other words, the opportunity to adapt
methods, algorithms or services developed in one part of the world and hack
them to into a customized form better suited to local application
requirements. Examples that I had in mind at the time included super
lightweight map viewers that stripped out many of the bells and whistles
that clog up narrow communications channels. Or targeted server-side
applications that would return a useful list of information rather than a
whole complex map when responding to geo-spatial queries like "What
airfields are best located for servicing Town X?"

But these were just speculative musings at the time. What I am now
wondering, given that amongst the SDI-EA listers we have academics,
students and software developers, whether it's not time to see if there's
any substance to this jua kali development notion. Can we, between us, find
one or two tractable problems that could (say) become project material for
students who would work with knowledgeable academics and programmers to
apply best open-standards and open-source practices to come up with some
nice, targeted, robust little web services meeting some real community
need. If we could get some collaboration going between students at
different schools in different countries then, hey, so much the better.

At the other end of the spectrum there are honking great problems out
there, like reliable, accurate and up-to-date gazetteer and location data
that are sorely needed in this region, but such tasks are far too ambitious
for a small self-motivated group like this. No, what I'm proposing here
would be far more modest, more targeted, more realizable with the resources
we collectively have.....   any ideas out there?

PS real work continues on building SDI capacity though, I have to admit,
the focus so far is within the UN. This is no just because they're the ones
who pay my salary but because I know the individuals to talk to, and we
have some common problems that we will benefit collectively from solving.
But the real reason is that Any Time Now we will have better direct
connection to the internet service providers in the region and I want to
have in place some nice, meaningful services working across agencies that
will show that this SDI business is not just smoke and mirrors. Maybe at
that stage our regional colleagues like RCMRD, the CG centres and some of
the NGOS might stat seeing some real potential in SDI-EA.

PPS there will be joint presentation at the upcoming meeting of the
Committee on Development Information in Addis Ababa by UNEP and FAO that
will touch on SDI-EA and the sorts of institutional (an technical, but
emphasising the institutional) issues that are already emerging as we try
to get this SDI stiff working. I hope this will be an opportunity to get
increased interest and engagement from the likes of some of the national
mapping and statistical authorities.

Anyway, a very splendid weekend to you all. Again, please pass this message
along to any of your contacts that you think might have an interest.


Mick Wilson
Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA)
United Nations Environment Programme
PO Box 30552 -  Nairobi 00100, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7623436
Fax: +254 20 7624315
Email: mick.wilson at unep.org
Web www.unep.net, www.unep.org

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