Future of Health: Map Kibera Creates An Infrastructure For Health Care

PSFK talks with the team for their insights on how the project is helping healthcare workers in neglected areas.


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Map Kibera

As part of the Future of Health report published last week, we interviewed key innovators during our research to illuminate ideas and innovation developing in healthcare.

Map Kibera is an open-source project started in 2009 in response to the lack of information available for the Kibera district of Nairobi, Kenya – one of the world’s largest slums. The majority of Nairobi is geographically documented for health, education, and sanitation purposes, but these basic requirements are neglected without any mapping to guide the municipal infrastructure. Health geographers Jamie Lundine and Joshua Goldstein of the Map Kibera team share their insights on the project below:

Tell us how you describe the Kibera mapping project and any technological integrations that are helping your team along.

The Map Kibera project is creating the first public, digital, open source map of Kibera – one of the largest informal settlements in East Africa and home to hundreds of thousands of people. Map Kibera equips Kibera residents with tools and techniques to generate and manage digital information. Thirteen young people, one from each village in Kibera, have been trained to use global positioning system (GPS) devices to gather data about the physical infrastructure in their communities. They upload and geolocate that data using the Open Street Map software to the Open Street Map website where it is publicly available for anyone to download and use. In April 2010, in partnership with UNICEF the second phase of the project began and the mappers collected information on all health services and programmes (clinics, chemists, herbalists, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations). Community members are involved in providing feedback on the accuracy of the information through community meetings. The project also involves crowdsourcing of community events, activities, and incidents using Ushahidi’s platform for ‘crowdsourcing crisis information.’ This community generated information is submitted vis SMS and published on the website www.voiceofkibera.org.

What other developments at the intersection of health and technology do you find inspiring?

The integration of new techniques for health mapping with existing channels of communication and expression of community issues has been inspiring. For example, a group of Kibera residents have been extremely active in publicizing the SMS short code for reporting to the web platform Voice of Kibera. The project has demonstrated that we cannot rely on “new technology” alone – it has been the integration of new technology (GPS, web mapping) and the tried and true paper maps and mobile phones (which are widely used in Kibera) that have and will continue to ensure the success of this project.

How do you envision the project developing to best support health care workers in the future?

As part of Phase II of the project, we are engaging with Kibera residents involved in health care provision, including community health workers (CHWs). In April 2010, we held a series of community meetings where CHWs were able to give feedback on the map using participatory mapping techniques. This improved the quality of data the map contains. We are establishing relationships with the major health organizations working in Kibera to share information and integrate the map data into standard reporting procedures for these organizations. Once these relationships are clearly established it is possible that health related incidents, reported through the Voice of Kibera web platform will be channeled to the appropriate organizations. It is also important to note that the data are open source and thus publicly available to download and analyze. Any individual or group from Kibera can thus use the data that the Map Kibera project generates. This leaves a whole range of possibilities for exciting spin-offs from the project that we can’t begin to predict. These unpredictable outcomes are perhaps the most exciting part about being involved in an open source project like Map Kibera.

Thanks Jamie and Joshua!

Map Kibera

PSFK’s Future of Health Report details 15 trends that will impact health and wellness around the world. Simple advances such as off-the-grid energy and the introduction of gaming into healthcare service offerings sit alongside more future-forward developments such as bio-medical printing. The report includes concepts for UNICEF based on the trends provided by the world’s leading advertising and design agencies. It is our hope that this report will inspire your thinking and lead to services, applications and technologies which will allow for more available, quality healthcare.

PSFK presents the Future Of Health Report for UNICEF

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