Virtual Kenya is an online interactive platform with related materials for those with no access to the Internet. It is designed to provide improved access to high quality spatial data and cutting-edge mapping technology to allow more Kenyans to use and interact with spatial data in their educational and professional pursuits. This will be accomplished by providing online access to publicly available spatial data sets and by offering users a number of interactive tools and learning resources for exploring these data. Users both inside and outside of Kenya will be able to view, download, publish, share, and comment on various map-based products.

The ultimate goal of Virtual Kenya is to promote increased data sharing and spatial analysis for better decision-making, development planning and education in Kenya, while at the same time demonstrating the potential and use of web-based spatial planning tools.

Initially, the platform will feature maps and information based on Nature’s Benefits in Kenya: An Atlas of Ecosystems and Human Well-Being (“the Atlas”), originally published jointly in 2007 by the World Resources Institute together with the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing, the Central Bureau of Statistics, and the International Livestock Research Institute.

The Atlas overlays geo-referenced statistical information on human well-being with spatial data on ecosystems and their services to yield a picture of how land, people, and prosperity are related in Kenya. Since its publication, data and charts from the Atlas have been downloaded regularly from the WRI website, and its online Geographic Information System (GIS) data sets are being used to produce new maps.

The Virtual Kenya platform is designed to allow users with more limited mapping expertise, specifically in high schools and universities, to take full advantage of the wealth of data behind the Atlas. The website also introduces more advanced users to new web-based software applications for visualizing and analyzing spatial information and makes public spatial data sets freely available on the web to support improved environment and development planning.

13716 Published: Friday, 17 June 2011 10:27