The PLACE Mapping Tool: A Plug-In for QGIS

The PLACE Mapping Tool allows users to produce the maps they need, even with limited knowledge of a GIS

QGIS Mapping Tool Sample
Sample output produced with the mapping tool. This map was created for illustrative purposes only.

Summary

Many researchers and planners whose work focuses on populations key to the HIV epidemic (men who have sex with men, female sex workers, people who inject drugs, and transgender people) use the Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) tool to monitor and improve the coverage of HIV prevention programs in areas where HIV transmission is most likely to occur. Maps can help them decide where to focus their attention and determine which prevention and outreach activities deserve priority. But many PLACE researchers have not been trained in the use of GIS (geographic information systems) or other mapping software, and such software typically requires a steep learning curve to become useful. 

The PLACE Mapping Tool allows users to produce the maps they need, even with limited knowledge of a GIS. Because the tool works as a plug-in with QGIS (a popular free and open-source GIS program), a researcher can use it to import data and display them in a basic fashion on a computer screen and in a printout. The tool also allows a GIS technician to work with the data later, if need be. The tool can handle two types of geographic data: “area” data (usually a rate or percentage or score, by district), and “point” data (discrete locations, such as venues where key populations gather). Output is generated automatically as a PDF, and includes title and legend information, which the user can customize.

What’s Included

The tool package, contained on a thumb drive, comes with a complete version of QGIS, Excel templates for properly preparing your own data, and special geographic map data files—called “shapefiles”—that provide the administrative area geometry for 12 countries: Angola, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Uganda. Documentation with the tool describes:

  1. How to format the two types of basic PLACE data (district data and GPS coordinate location data)
  2. How to work with the tool’s “wizard” to produce a map
  3. Tips on how to use some of the basic features of the QGIS software
  4. Information on where to go for GIS instruction

For more information and to request a free copy of the tool, please contact measure@unc.edu

Related Content

The PLACE Mapping Tool: A Plug-In for QGIS (Factsheet)

The PLACE Mapping Tool (PowerPoint with sound)