Geographic Information Systems Working Group Meeting: GIS to Support PEPFAR

The annual meeting of the MEASURE Evaluation Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Working Group in June 2016, in Washington, DC, focused on how geospatial data and tools support PEPFAR in the fight for an AIDS-free generation.

GIS WGWASHINGTON, DC—The annual meeting of the MEASURE Evaluation Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Working Group (WG) in June 2016, in Washington, DC, focused on how geospatial data and tools support the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the fight for an AIDS-free generation.

Carrie Stokes, chief geographer at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and director of the U.S. Global Development Lab’s GeoCenter, gave the keynote address, explaining how the center emphasizes the importance of geographic data to inform decision making in all aspects of HIV programs. Specific examples cited by Stokes included the YouthMappers’ crowdsourcing work with OpenStreetMap; story mapping during the Ebola crisis; and a stunting and food consumption study conducted in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Her address also covered the challenge of basic data literacy and the importance of providing help with crafting policy, strategy, and standardization in-country.

GIS WG Group Work

Other talks during the day focused on the importance of data quality, data use, and data analysis. 

Attendees heard about spatial data quality in PEPFAR’s DATIM system and issues with data governance, communication, and policies, and were introduced to the new GeoNode portal. Working in groups, attendees were instructed to identify barriers to collecting and storing good spatial data and then to come up with potential solutions. 

Participants also discussed using spatial data to aid decision making. Groups were presented with a scenario asking them to imagine they were the GIS specialist serving a PEPFAR country team which has to make decisions about prioritization of sites in their country. The challenge posed was that decisions should advance the objective of providing resources to sites that can best advance progress on 90-90-90 goals. 

GIS WG MapTechniques for innovative spatial analysis and emerging spatial technologies were also discussed. Attendees were asked to draw an ideal map based on a scenario presented earlier in the meeting and identify data needed to make it, such as number of people in an area tested for HIV, number on antiretroviral therapy (ART), location of sites, and creation of a proxy indicator showing progress towards 90-90-90 goals, as compared to actual prevalence. 

Sharing ideas, discussion, and collaboration at the GIS WG meeting helped give attendees a better understanding of how GIS can be used to support PEFPAR programs and work towards an AIDS-free generation. And they had fun using Google cardboard  to turn their smartphones into virtual reality viewers. 

Access a detailed account of the workshop.