Solutions to many of the development challenges faced across the globe are hampered by the poor availability of spatial data. How can you easily find out which areas in Madagascar are susceptible to cyclones? Or how about which areas in India have high child malnutrition? Or what the major exports of Vietnam are? Or how fast the population in Lagos is rising?
The World Bank, in its quest to improve data transparency and open data platforms, has developed an easily accessible way to get answers—a Spatial Agent application that visualizes available spatial and temporal development-related data on an interactive mobile platform. It pulls together thousands of types of data from more than 300 web services from major institutions—United Nations Organizations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), World Bank, universities, and many more.
The Spatial Agent app promotes the sharing of ideas and experiences and provides a shared evidence base for planning and policy making. Development challenges that spatial data visualizations can be useful for include:
- Social issues, such as population density and growth patterns, poverty, and water supply. For example, variations in water supply coverage across African regions.
- Economic issues, such as gross domestic product, energy access, infrastructure, trade, and irrigation. For example, irrigation prevalence in the Indian subcontinent.
- Climate issues, such as temperature, precipitation, floods, real-time snow cover, and climate change scenarios. For example, historical precipitation variability and future climate change implications for the Nile basin.
- Environmental issues, such as water resources, erosion, land use, forest density, and biodiversity. For example, comparing deforestation in Indonesia and the Amazon.