GuideStar International's Blog

August 20, 2010

Innovative Geocoding Project Maps Aid Data

by Keisha C Taylor

The people at AidData, (a programme of Development Gateway) have teamed up with the World Bank Institute to complete the first stage of a groundbreaking Geocoding project (Mapping for Results Initiative). Wikipedia defines Geocoding as ‘the process of finding associated geographic coordinates (often expressed as latitude and longitude) from other geographic data, such as street addresses, or zip codes (postal codes). With geographic coordinates the features can be mapped and entered into Geographic Information Systems, or the coordinates can be embedded into media such as digital photographs via geotagging’. This particular geocoding project identifies and records the location of specific aid activity at the subnational level. A team of 13 interns successfully geocoded 1,216 World Bank projects in 7 weeks defying the belief in some quarters that it would be impossible.  12,000 specific geographic locations were coded in 42 Sub-Sahara African countries, 27 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Indonesia, and the Philippines (a selection of African wide projects were also coded). This can have a significantly positive impact on efforts to improve accountability and aid effectiveness. You can read more about the project on the AidData Blog.

This geocoding is enabling the visual tracking of aid flows and is also providing information on the kind of aid that each area receives. It is hoped that the project will go a long way towards ensuring that aid goes to those that need it most. This interesting and innovative project is a great illustration of the important role that technology and transparent information can play in helping to connect communities with donors. With 12,000 specific geographic locations already geocoded, the World Bank is now investigating the possibility of implementing standardised location reporting into future project documentation. It is also hoped that more donors will provide information and support the project in the future. Have a look at the perspectives of those involved in the project in the video below.

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