Moritz Lennert

Moritz is a geographer, member of the GRASS GIS development team, OSGeo charter member and co-founder of After 20 years in academia he joined Bluesquare leading the work on georegistries and providing his expertise in geography and spatial analysis to projects across the board.

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Software, data and governance: activating FOSS4G and open data for health in developing countries
Moritz Lennert

Data does not provoke development. Software does not provoke development. But both can help public administrations elaborate a clearer vision of specific aspects of the realities they have to deal with. In many developing countries, however, data is scarce and difficult to come by and access to software is limited through licencing costs, but also through lack of training.

Based on the experience at Bluesquare a Belgian global data company focused on digital health in low- and middle-income countries around the globe, the author presents an overview of how different components in the FOSS4G and open data world can provide tools and materials for the potential improvement of health services on the ground such as more accessible health care, better planning of investments, increased cooperation between different programs, etc.

The talk will provide an overview of the current global scene related to health facility registries as well as more overarching geo-registries, which include data on population location and on administrative contours. It will provide a series of examples of current efforts and practices, highlight some of the new data sources being leveraged, including new satellite-based settlement and population layers, and elaborate on ongoing attempts to provide more routine, low-cost data collection in sometimes difficult, generally not well connected environments as well as detailed examples of current ongoing efforts of Bluesquare in countries such as DRC and Niger (Carte Sanitaire).

As data governance, sharing and opening are recurring issues in many countries, Bluesquare also works with public administrations on sharing and opening their data. This goes from providing web interfaces from where data can directly be downloaded to a dedicated data sharing and analysis platform, allowing controlled access in the context of more limited sharing agreements.

The author will also briefly showcase two free software products: its geo-aware data collection, curation and analysis platform, Iaso, presented in detail in another proposed talk, and the soon to be released OpenHexa, which offers administrations the possibility to share data with researchers or other interested parties, and to explore, analyse and visualize this data. The main aim will be to show how these tools fit into the larger picture of geographic data creation and curation in the health sector in developing countries.

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