Across various projects, IPIS has built–up an expertise in field-data collection, GIS mapping, data management, geospatial analysis and the development of visualization tools such as interactive web–maps and dashboards. Confident in its ability to deliver high–quality recommendations and outputs, IPIS places its expertise at the disposal of other NGOs interested in engaging in similar mapping or data-oriented projects. Interested? Find out below how IPIS can help.
WHAT IPIS OFFERS
1. Setting up a data collection campaign
The partner organization is looking to conduct a data collection campaign in the field, yet the number of different tools and approaches has led to a build-up of methodological inefficiencies. The partner team requires guidance on how to operate such tools, how to begin collection, and how best to prepare questionnaires.
When IPIS wanted to scale up mining site visits, our researchers transitioned from paper-only to digital questionnaires. IPIS equipped a dozen teams with smartphones and robust satellite phones, training them in how to use them, translated previous questionnaires to advanced XLSforms, and leveraged OpenDataKit and KoBo to manage a livestream of data collected by our field researchers. This system allows IPIS to collect a range of information, including GPS points, photos, and text answers in response to a variety of choice, skip-logic, and open-ended questions, while maintaining an overview of data entries in real time.
IPIS can assist in developing a tailored data collection system, aiding in the design of questionnaires, on-device collection, and the management of live data entry. Together with partners, our team can design performant sampling strategies, write comprehensive questionnaires, and leverage the advanced options of mobile phone questionnaires. IPIS will demonstrate how to download forms on a device, fill in a questionnaire and send inputs to a remote server. If needed, our team can also train enumerators in the field.
2. Processing and analyzing large datasets
The partner organization is working with large datasets, including geographic data, and is experiencing difficulties in efficiently organizing and converting this into powerful, reproducible, and modifiable visual tools (i.e. static maps, web-maps, charts and graphs, etc.).
Moving away from Excel/OpenOffice, IPIS switched to more powerful data science tools, including R and Python, employing some of their advanced data wrangling and visualization libraries to process large amounts of data on Artisanal and Small-scale Mining. This facilitates the creation of an efficient statistical overview and advanced analyses of collected data, generation of print-ready graphs, and reduces inefficiencies related to Excel. When new data is added or a project is extended, IPIS re-runs or re-uses custom R scripts to generate updated results and visualizations. Additionally, IPIS uses open-source GIS software such as QGIS to map collected data, explore its spatial context, and make print maps in varying formats. Finally, IPIS increasingly employs remote sensing technologies using Open Data Cube and Jupyter notebooks.
IPIS researchers can provide guidance with data analysis and help partners choose tools that best correspond to their project specifications. For instance, our consultants can browse through provided datasets, select relevant descriptive statistics, and produce advanced data visualization. This straightforward approach builds confidence among our partners and facilitates a transition towards more advanced forms of data analysis.
For organizations already familiar with coding languages, IPIS can provide tailored data analysis training for researchers. Training progresses incrementally, beginning with an introduction to R and ending with guidance on constructing reproducible statistical reports of collected data. If relevant, training in data visualization can also be provided.
3. Making static maps for print
The partner’s desired project centers around a geographic component, yet their organization lacks expertise in contextualizing and interpreting geographical data. The partner team desires tools with which to explore resources freely available online (e.g., satellite imagery or public datasets), visualize and compare different geographical layers, or investigate spatial patterns like clustering.
When IPIS first started mapping mining sites in the eastern DRC, our researchers needed tools to visualize mine visits on maps. IPIS currently uses QGIS (having also used ArcGIS in the past) to make advanced maps using multiple layers, including mines, villages, road and river networks, state borders, national parks, and background imagery. Our researchers use the same tools to perform advanced geospatial analysis to answer questions such as: ‘how many mines are within 50km of this park?’, ‘which territories have the highest total number of miners?’, ‘Does the presence of state services increase the security of mines?’, etc.
IPIS consultants can prepare high-quality thematic print maps for partner projects and can introduce partners to QGIS, a free and powerful Open-Source application for mapping. Our consultants will provide their expertise on loading data, handling layers, addressing spatial questions, and producing print maps.
4. Making web-maps
There are various reasons why a partner would think of using a web-map: they are producing a report and wish to pinpoint locations for context, they are creating a multimedia campaign where the audience can read stories and explore data about a case they’ve been studying. More generally, the partner is hoping that web-maps will provide their audience with clear visuals and will push them to engage further with the underlying data.
Producing a web-map or story-map requires time and careful deliberation. Thankfully, IPIS consultants have extensive experience in filtering through data, identifying where contextual layers may be useful. As part of its assistance to potential partners, IPIS researchers can aid in identifying project needs, help with data integration, and develop a web-map that can be hosted on servers either owned by, or external to, IPIS. Our consultants can also provide design-oriented assistance, helping partners build a web-map which is not only tailored to project-specific criteria, but also to the needs of the target-audience.
5. Creating a web portal or data dashboard
The potential partner is designing a project where data is entered, analyzed, or consulted using a database, and wants users to be able to access this resource without any advanced knowledge of data analysis. At the same time, the partner wishes users to have a powerful overview of the database’s content, including but not limited to summary statistics, filter options and potentially a web-map.
Web portals and data dashboards are always custom-built in line with a partner’s exact needs. Our consultants assist in defining the target audience of the deliverable, their needs, and the product specifications necessary to meet these. IPIS can also maintain the final product, provided there is constant and close collaboration with the potential partner.
6. Building a data strategy and setting up a data workflow
Potential partners find themselves processing large amounts of data, requiring the development of a data strategy to limit inefficiencies or irregularities. The potential partner is looking to have questions answered pertaining to data input, storage, modification, permissions, analysis, and visualization.
Initially, IPIS worked exclusively with Excel sheets, but encountered challenges when conflicting copies became a growing obstacle to the efficiency and accuracy of its projects. By developing a cleaner workflow, IPIS was able to make its data processing more scalable and its analysis more easily reproducible. IPIS’ current system consists of a file server, an externally hosted Postgres/PostGIS database and a GeoServer. An organized setup with many Open Source components also enable IPIS to provide Open Data with great ease.
IPIS can help in devising a data strategy, structuring a data workflow, and setting up tailored systems. Our researchers think about where data originates, how it is processed and whom it reaches, providing tailored advice to ensure that chosen data collection, management and processing tools all work together.
Collaborating with ipis
IPIS constantly seeks to learn from other organizations, colleagues, and consultants. For this reason, it places its accumulated knowledge, combined with our in-field expertise, at the disposal of other NGOs. IPIS looks to find equitable and durable solutions for partners, whether this involves long-term collaboration, or sights on later project independence. Take up contact with us by clicking here.
IPIS uses free Open-Source Software such as R, QGIS, GeoServer. This allows our teams to limit expenses while maximizing quality and accessibility. It also provides IPIS access to the continued support of the Open Source community and provides access to new technical developments in the space of data analysis software.
IPIS also has experience in organizing and hosting Mapathons. These events build on IPIS’ use of Open Source and Open Data. They involve gatherings of motivated volunteers to place target regions on an open–source map, which potential stakeholders (particularly NGOs) can make use of. Interested in organizing a Mapathon with IPIS in a region of your interest? Contact us here.