Geospatial Advocacy Kenya Frequently Asked Questions

Geospatial Advocacy Kenya FAQ

Geospatial Advocacy Kenya is a recent initiative that seeks to promote and advance the geospatial industry in Kenya through geospatial advocacy. To introduce the organization to the wider public I published a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on their website.

Introduction

Developing pages for a website can be tedious so adding a FAQ page is a great way of introducing your organization. Here’s who loves a well-written and structured FAQ:

  • Visitors love it because they find answers to their pertinent questions and other questions that they hadn’t thought of.
  • Content writers love it because answering questions provides a natural way for content writing and storytelling.
  • Search engines love it because the FAQ page is packed with keywords that are relevant to their targeted audience.

In developing the FAQ for Geospatial Advocacy Kenya, I came up with the following 3 groups that each had 3 questions:

  • The first group defines Geospatial, Geospatial Advocacy, and Geospatial Advocacy Kenya so it is a progressive narration that introduces the organization. It helps visitors decide whether the website meets their needs.
  • The second group answers a set of questions that any interested person would like to ask. Answering such questions establishes a relationship between the organization and its audience. An open disclosure policy also helps to create trust.
  • The final set of questions expand on the work that the organization will undertake. It should compel the targeted audience to actively support the organization and join its activities. In other words, this section establishes urgency and mobilizes people.

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ is accessible on the Geospatial Advocacy Kenya website, but the content is likely to evolve and change over time. Sharing the FAQ below will expose it to a wider audience and gives me the opportunity to add a few comments.

1.      What is Geospatial?

Geospatial refers to the concepts, technologies, and practices used in the collection, management, analysis, visualization, dissemination, and use of geospatial data, also known as geodata or location data. Constituent technologies include Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Surveying, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Analytics, Earth Observation, and 3D Scanning. With use cases shifting to data for action and decision-making, these technologies are converging and becoming more integrated.

For the purpose of advocacy, it is important to use the widest definition of geospatial. This helps to avoid internal turf wars and offers much-needed clarity towards consumers. In the above definition, working with geospatial data is used as the common denominator. Geospatial data is characterized by a location reference, which is used to reveal distributions, patterns, and relationships. This is a major value addition to conventional data analytics without location.

2.      What is Geospatial Advocacy?

Geospatial Advocacy supports, promotes, and advances the development and implementation of geospatial technologies and best practices. This entails communication and engagement with industry stakeholders, public outreach on technology benefits and use cases, and working with the government to address industry challenges and issues through policy interventions.

Geospatial has always had its adherents, but it hasn’t been fully exploited nor garnered widespread appeal. The geospatial industry might have itself to blame by being fragmented and technology oriented. However, with the emerging focus on data, 4IR and SDGs (Social Development Goals), there’s an opportunity to showcase the relevance of geospatial in solving the world’s biggest problems.

3.      What is Geospatial Advocacy Kenya?

Geospatial Advocacy Kenya is an umbrella organization that seeks to support, promote, and advance the geospatial industry in Kenya by working with all industry stakeholders and practitioners. It endeavors to profile, extend, and complement the activities undertaken by government, academic institutions, NGOs, private businesses, and other interest groups like ISK (Institution of Surveyors of Kenya) and GSK (Geospatial Society of Kenya).

In Kenya several attempts have been made to unite the GIS/geospatial industry, but they have not had a significant impact. Learning from these experiences, Geospatial Advocacy Kenya has clear goals and objectives and stated intent of working will all industry practitioners and stakeholder groups for the common good.

4.      Why was Geospatial Advocacy Kenya created?

Geospatial Advocacy Kenya was created to represent the common interests of Kenya’s emerging geospatial industry. It gives the industry a unified voice towards external stakeholders like government, development partners, and media, and a mechanism for addressing internal strife, poor business alignment, and lack of professionalism.

The geospatial industry in Kenya is growing in terms of private businesses, practitioners, and students, but this has not been matched by a growth in job and work opportunities. Another worrying trend is the influx of foreign experts and an abundance of local experts who haven’t been accredited by the local industry. Affirmative action is dearly needed to safeguard the interests of the local geospatial industry.

5.      Who is involved in Geospatial Advocacy Kenya?

The activities of Geospatial Advocacy Kenya are currently overseen by Willy Simons, Eric Nyadimo, and Prof. Simon Onywere. Each of them has contributed significantly to the growth of Kenya’s geospatial industry. Key industry stakeholders and a sizeable number of geospatial practitioners have joined the Geospatial Advocacy Kenya WhatsApp group and Slack community.

I started Geospatial Advocacy Kenya on realizing that the market for geospatial in Kenya was largely stagnant. Eric Nyadimo joined as chairman of the ISK GIS chapter and in recognition of his work in private industry. Prof. Simon Onywere joined in recognition of the work he’s doing in GIS education and academics at Kenyatta University

6.      How is Geospatial Advocacy Kenya constituted?

Geospatial Advocacy Kenya started as an informal initiative to engage Kenya’s growing community of geospatial businesses and practitioners. A steering committee that will represent all key sub-sectors of Kenya’s geospatial industry is under development. When formed, the steering committee should determine how Geospatial Advocacy Kenya can be constituted as a nonprofit organization in the form of a society or NGO.

For the geospatial industry to thrive it’s imperative that all stakeholders work together. Hence the formation of a steering group with representatives from government, private business, academia, nonprofits and students to ensure that all stakeholder groups are represented.

7.      What issues/challenges will Geospatial Advocacy Kenya address?

  • Lack of dialogue between the government and the geospatial industry that could foster growth-oriented policies and effective use of geospatial technologies in national development planning.
  • Poor alignment between strategic business challenges and local industry solutions resulting in missed opportunities for economic growth and enhanced service delivery.
  • Inadequate presentation of expert opinions from the geospatial industry in news, media, and events which sustains widespread ignorance about geospatial technology and its applications.
  • Lack of a geospatial industry association that promotes networking and collaboration, education and training, and professional standards and conduct to the benefit of all industry stakeholders.

A key challenge in the geospatial industry is the lack of communication, engagement, and information sharing between key actors like government, businesses, academia, nonprofits, and consumers.  With multi-sector representation, Geospatial Advocacy Kenya should be able to address this challenge with dialogue, events and information services.

8.      What activities will Geospatial Advocacy Kenya undertake?

Geospatial Advocacy Kenya maintains a WhatsApp group and Slack community to foster communication and engagement within the geospatial community. We are also developing a website that provides relevant information to the general public. Over time Geospatial Advocacy Kenya plans to extend its communication services, publish industry articles, newsletters, and magazines, organize geospatial events and meetups, and play a key role in geospatial policy advocacy.

To facilitate geospatial advocacy activities people and finance will have to be mobilized. Certain activities might have to be sponsored or provided at a cost to make them financially sustainable. International geospatial industry or development partners who seek to develop a vibrant local geospatial industry in Kenya might also want to kickstart activities within their interest.

9.      How can you get involved in Geospatial Advocacy Kenya?

Start by joining the ongoing conversation on our WhatsApp group and Slack community. If you are organizing or wish to promote a relevant event to the geospatial community you can Post an Event on our website. We are in the process of adding information to our website and setting up additional activities, but you are most welcome to send us your suggestions and proposals.

The geospatial industry in Kenya has lost some of its early excitement and is feeling the impact of hard economic times. To overcome apathy and inertia, Geospatial Advocacy Kenya welcomes ideas and initiatives from the geospatial community at large. Ultimately the vision of a vibrant geospatial community should be far more compelling than the status quo.

Wrapping Up

After a brief introduction on FAQ, we looked at the 9 Frequently Asked Questions on the Geospatial Advocacy Kenya website. From the answers and additional comments, we have learned the following:

  • Geospatial advocacy promotes the development and implementation of geospatial technology which is uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution to sustainable development.
  • Geospatial Advocacy Kenya seeks to promote and advance the local geospatial industry by bringing together the key subsectors of government, private business, academia, nonprofits, and students.
  • Geospatial Advocacy Kenya already provides a platform communication and engagement platform for the geospatial community.
  • Future activities and ultimate success of Geospatial Advocacy Kenya will depend on the effective mobilization of resources like people and finance.

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