GIS & MEP: Why GIS Works For Us
The Institute for Conscious Global Change, Inc (ICGC) has an innovative and revolutionary plan to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) post 2015. The objective of the “Millennium Earth Project” (MEP) is to construct a virtual globe to act as an online library of maps and 3D infrastructure models. Initially Millennium Earth will focus on the 49 least developed countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, but eventually this will expand to include developing and developed countries as well. You might ask yourself, how does GIS (Geographic Information Systems) allow for this and what role does GIS play in MEP specifically?
This is a great question; in fact, GIS is indispensable for our work towards achieving the MDGs. Comprehensive development is a complex issue that requires in-depth, site-specific knowledge and analysis in order to develop culturally sensitive strategies for improving the quality of life. This is where GIS comes in. GIS is a technology that allows users to create maps of the current landscape, search and manipulate data and design spatial models of planned landscapes. ICGC chose GIS because it provides a unique opportunity to visually display several features of each country’s development. MEP utilizes the latest GIS software to create 3D models of city infrastructure complete with site photos and construction drawings. In order to accurately depict the uniqueness of each country’s issues, MEP collects extensive primary data and secondary data for each of the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
This research will provide the important details our maps need for analysts to better understand the needs of each country, as well as what changes must be made to transition each country towards a “developed” status. GIS analysts overlay multiple elements in the same map and utilize color-coded symbols to represent the important spatial aspects of development statistics, demographics, natural resources and other physical landform features. These maps will encompass a “virtual globe” and illustrate current issues hindering development in each LDC.
These elements combined will provide a juxtaposition of each country’s current and planned states. This comparison will act as a developmental roadmap, allowing policymakers, country representatives, civil society organizations and relevant stakeholders to effectively analyze and interpret each country’s pathway to development. ICGC believes GIS and the MEP are the holistic and revolutionary “outside of the box” solutions needed for achieving a virtual MDG plan pre and post 2015.
We would like to thank ESRI for donating the ArcGIS Desktop licenses needed to develop the core of our work on the Millennium Earth Project. ESRI is also providing valuable support and consultation with our Haiti (Saint Raphael) Prototype.