We set out to enhance and improve the accuracy of geolocation data currently available for Tanzania’s schools via the country’s data portal by utilising open source data collection and validation tools at a fraction of the cost of a traditional mapping project.
Commissioned by the World Bank Tanzania, the main aim of our activities was to demonstrate that citizen-provided data collection can be comprehensive, cost effective and therefore a valid approach for filling critical data gaps.
Since 2014, key datasets relating to health, water, national statistics and education have been published via opendata.go.tz, Tanzania’s official open data portal powered by CKAN. This occurred as part of the Tanzania Open Data Initiative, a government programme supported by the World Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).
Following the release of a education data dashboard in 2015, research found that 60% of primary and secondary schools in Tanzania have accurate geocoding (9,621 primary schools, and 2,549 secondary schools). For the remaining 8,104 “missing schools” that could not appropriately be geocoded, their placeholder locations were approximated.
Building on this research and hoping to utilise more recent schools geolocation data collected by the Equip Tanzania team, Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) were granted an opportunity by the World Bank Tanzania to carry out a pilot utilising our technical experience with data collection, validation and management tools to help the government of Tanzania to create more accurate geolocation data to aid future national planning and development.
What we did
The pilot, carried out in late 2017, saw our team create a data collection and data cleaning workflow allowing the cost effective collection of geolocation data on schools in Tanzania.
OKF had previously carried out work in Tanzania - leading sessions at the first Africa Open Data Conference in Dar es Salaam in 2015 and hosting the 2017 School of Data summer camp - but had not interacted directly with the government who were OKF's partners for this pilot.
To develop the workflow, the OKF product team built on top of the Ushahidi crowdsourcing platform first developed in Kenya in 2008. Our developer took advantage both of functionality from both the Ushahidi web client and application programming interface (API) to develop the workflow.
To test our prototype, OKF carried out a training and planning workshop in Morogoro, Tanzania with representatives from national ministries and government bodies whose teams utilise school geolocation data. This meeting resulted in the translation of our data collection interface into Kiswahili, Tanzania’s national language, as well as empowering the assembled government taskforce members with all the information they needed to carry out future data collection exercises.
The development of this workflow focused on the goals of our pilot phase but used technologies which could be reused and scaled up by the government of Tanzania or any other public bodies looking to explore how mature open source mobile data collection tools can be harnessed to create datasets to enhance, check or validate official data sources.