Final week with the British Red Cross GIS team

It is hard to believe that I am writing my final blog post already. At the same time, I am glad with the things I have learnt and implemented in these last few weeks.

I spent the first few days making my first dashboard! The team wanted to know if there was a way to have a timeline which would visualize the spread of incidences on a map. They foresee it to be an important visualization for the recent Ebola outbreaks. So after creating my own fake data set and digging around online, I was able to create this in the first few of days of the week.

Week 3: Finalising that server and practicing crossfilter.js and dc.js

In last week’s blog I mentioned that final hurdle for the offline server was to get to the bottom of the disappointingly slow speeds. It took a few days to research around this since no support was found for it on-line. This was not surprising given the specificity of the case and the relatively new service.  That being said, this solution is an exciting prospect for charities such as the Red Cross. In fact, my team had discussed the capability of Formhub with the Medecins sans frontieres (MSF) and the MSF immediately put out a request to developers to get this working- it would enable them to digitally collect data in remote and rural areas making the current process a lot more efficient and scalable.

Week 2: Setting up a local (offline) server and getting to grips with web programming

My second week started off by investigating the same Formhub instance set-up on a virtual Linux machine using Oracle’s VirtualBox. The reason for this is to enable the uploading off the surveys to the Linux server without the use of internet i.e. by means of a Local Area Network.  This proved to be more difficult then the previous week’s case of setting it up using Amazon’s AWS services since it needs more tweaking and it is a newer method which still needs some debugging. Having said that I am getting quite close to completing the set-up except for occasional connectivity issues and disappointingly low speeds for a LAN based system.

Setting up Web Servers, HOT meet-ups and learning data visualisation (British Red Cross GIS)

I started my first week with the Red Cross on Tuesday (wonderfully detailed information about the team here by Helena) . After being set-up with my desk and all the IT services I was told that they had a (sort of urgent) task for me already! The mapping team is closely linked with the Phillipines Red Cross team who are working on resheltering after the recent typhoon. In order to do this, the Red Cross decided to set-up a survey downloadable on smart phones to assess the damage in each household.  Unfortunately some of the open source software behind this is facing downtime due to increased global usage and lack of personnel etc.