E2G Survey Respondent Wins iPod
Last spring, MEASURE Evaluation conducted an online survey for users of its free GIS Excel to Google Earth Thematic Mapping Tool (E2G). The E2G tool allows users to display Excel-based administrative region data on color-shaded maps using Google Earth, and the survey sought feedback about the tool’s effectiveness and input about future enhancements. Survey respondents were entered in a drawing to win an iPod Classic and a $100 iTunes gift card.
Jose Biey, an E2G user based in Benin, won the drawing, but he considers the benefits of using the E2G tool to go far beyond the perk of a new iPod. As EPI Focal Point and Program Support Cluster Team Leader for the World Health Organization’s Benin office, Biey uses multiple mapping tools for program planning, management and evaluation. He has found E2G to be particularly helpful.
“I downloaded it from MEASURE Evaluation’s Web site about a year ago, and I immediately came to see that it’s quite useful,” he said in a phone interview. “A big difference between E2G and other mapping tools is that because it uses Google, it gives you a very nice picture of the region. You get something that is quite real that you don’t get using other software.”
Anyone interested in using the E2G tool can download it for free. Currently, it’s available for 40 countries, with an emphasis on PEPFAR countries. Biey finds himself using E2G often to plot Benin’s bordering countries, such as Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
“It has been especially good for mapping polio cases in the region,” he said.
E2G for Decision-making
Over the past year, the E2G tool has proven to be valuable in program planning for Biey.
“For our immunization campaign, we need to see what areas people have problems accessing services in each country,” he explained. “And with Google Maps, we can easily see where obstacles – mountains, rivers, etc. – exist. It makes it much easier to plan. If you are just plotting data on the usual mapping software, you cannot see all of these things.”
A key feature of the tool is its ease of use, which Biey also appreciates.
“It’s really quite fast as a tool,” he said. “It might seem tricky at first, but once you are accustomed to it and set it up, in less than five minutes, you have your data and your colored map. It’s quite fascinating.”
Biey recommends the E2G tool to colleagues and plans to keep using it as MEASURE Evaluation continues to provide enhancements.