CMapIT for Social Good
Accurate data has always been a challenge in Nigeria - from the difficulty in collecting accurate data, accessing it if it is available, to analysing it so it can be used for decision making. This challenge has also be raised by the UN Open Working Group when they stated that increasing the availability and access to data is critical for the success of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What they actually mean when they say this, is Open Data. That is, data that is freely available to anyone (easiest dissemination being through the Internet) and can be used and 'refurbished' for any purpose. This may also depict data that is crowdsourced - collected by anyone, anywhere.
Obviously, there is quite a gap in Nigeria when it comes to Open Data. And that's what makes this startup, CMapIT, so exciting. (C mean 'Crowd' btw).
CMapIT is a Nigerian geodata analysis company that collects and analyses data to be used for social good.
Open data is absolutely necessary if Nigeria wants to achieve the SDGs, and ultimately, sustainable development. This is because we can't conserve our resources if we aren't able to measure what we already have so that we know what the limits are. The benefits really are endless for Open Data, and go way beyond simple measurement.
With tools like those CMapIT is bringing to market, we can be more effective in delivering public services (think understanding where the disease hotspots are so public health administrators can prioritise these, as such, utilising limited resources); we can increase transparency (as data about public sector activities and projects are open and accessible); increase citizen participation (as the public can get involved with data collection and also hold public workers accountable); help foster collaboration between agencies in government, private and CSO sectors (as data is open and easily shared); and even creating jobs (from providing good resources to increase tech skills to fostering new business ideas).
CMapIT, in particular, touches all these benefits!
CMapIT provides several datasets for Nigeria that are easily accessible online, either for free or at a surprisingly cheap fee: For example, you can find the spread of water supply points (free), track power distribution and consumption (free), track public health concerns in real time (free), and access other Nigerian datasets for a small fee (from tracking armed conflicts, gas flare points, flood assessments, forest cover, vandalised gas pipelines, etc. These can all be used to hold the government accountable, and for all to make science-based decisions.
It's great to see that CMapIT has been internationally recognised for their good work so far by being awarded the MongoDB Innovation Award (Emerging Markets) in June 2016 (picked out from hundreds of international startups).
And CMapIT still does more to create opportunities for skill building and job creation. They run a tech hub in Oyo State where they hold regular trainings for young people interested in codings (they have also held coding trainings targeted specifically at women)! They go even further by offering their GIS for Social Impact (GISforSI) training online...for free.
The GISforSI training includes free tools, datasets and case studies, and promises to increase understanding about GIS database design and management. This training really is for everyone - "everyone should learn about GIS and how it can work for them because GIS will play an important role in designing solutions that will improve lives in Nigeria and the rest of the world".
CMapIT has achieved quite a lot in such a short time; and with all the benefits they bring, I look forward to tracking their growth and utilising their services as the need arises.