Three weeks ago, Virtual Kenya launched by Upande Ltd and partners, WRI, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Jacaranda Designs Ltd., and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
Virtual Kenya offers a guide on how to improve this paucity of high quality and reliable spatial data. The innovation will enable Kenyans to use and interact with spatial data in their educational and professional pursuits, which will undoubtedly improve the relevance of their education and work for improved livelihoods, society and nation building.
The newly launched platform will provide online access to publicly available spatial data sets, as well as, interactive tools and learning resources to utilize the vast array of data. This unprecedented opportunity to download, publish, share and comment on a myriad of map-based products will promote data sharing and spatial analysis.
Upande Ltd, the technical lead on the collaborative Virtual Kenya project, provided the following list (and notes) of interactive tools that will be utilized:
• Virtual Kenya Tours using Google Earth with 2D and 3D maps, images, and graphs to explain data from the Atlas with voice overs in an interactive and entertaining format.
• Interactive Map Viewer that allows users to view, create, and download maps of Kenya
• Social networking community to share GIS and mapping experiences among Virtual Kenya users;
• Baseline data on Kenya’s environment and geography in multiple file formats that are freely available and comprehensive;
• Learning resources, including a teachers guide and student activity booklets, to help educators use maps and information from the Atlas in their classrooms even without access to the Internet or computers;
• Tutorials to help users take advantage of all that Virtual Kenya has to offer
This mix of tools shows that even those with limited/no with GIS technology will find Virtual Kenya user-friendly. The visual nature of the innovation will also limit the constraints posed by issues of illiteracy, functional and otherwise.
Building the Virtual Kenya community
Following the launch of the Virtual Kenya website, an extensive national outreach program will be implemented by Upande Ltd., the Nairobi-based firm behind the website, along with the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK), Jacaranda Designs Ltd., and ILRI, who together have developed offline educational materials to complement the website.
Virtual Kenya is an amazing informational resource, offering materials in wide variety of formats including DVD for those with no internet access. The amount of data on the site is very impressive. Along with a variety of tutorials and their blog, they feature over 100 informational maps to give you easy access to their data.
Beyond that, they showcase a variety of Vitual Kenya Tours using Google Earth on different topics. A good example of that is the Wildlife Tour and Tourism Tour, which shows off the country using quite a few different KML overlays and 3D models.
In all, it’s quite an amazing site! If you have data to contribute, they have a section of the site full of information on how best to submit it to them. To try it all for yourself, simply head over to the Virtual Kenya site and dig in.