Monthly Archives: April, 2017

GIS platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

April 26th, 2017 Posted by DRR, GIS, ICT4D, software development, Training 0 comments on “GIS platform for Disaster Risk Reduction”

Over the past few months Gnucoop developed for the italian NGO COOPI-Cooperazione Internazionale* a GIS platform, which enable to visualize the main threats and vulnerabilities, as well as resources available in the surrounding areas to foster crisis management by turning this information into actions.

COOPI helps communities prone to environmental disasters or other hazards deal with them. Development of geographical information systems, risk analysis and dissemination of risk management tools are among the main activities of its program within the sector.
The marginalized informal communities of Rimac District in Lima in Peru, mostly affected by earthquakes and landslides, belong to the targeted groups of COOPI. In addition to natural hazards, inadequate basic services and infrastructures, coupled with scarce  awareness about disaster risk reduction are main issues to be tackled.
The innovative aspect of the Program run by COOPI in Lima is the participatory methodology for data collection, which aims at assessing the needs in a more comprehensive way by involving several stakeholders, from Local Authorities to Institutions and organizations at different levels.

Gnucoop has been involved by COOPI in the pursuing of one of the objectives of the project, namely the creation of a geo-referenced information system about resources and vulnerabilities at both neighborhood and district level. Such a tool will contribute to provide information and knowledge of the territory for decision making, strengthen participatory planning and minimizing disaster risks  and vulnerabilities.
Based on a previous webGIS platform developed for Port-au-Prince in Haiti, the new software called Yago uses the Geoserver service for geospatial data sharing. The Geoserver implements Web Map Service (WMS) and Web Feature Service (WFS) standards and is able to use the most common geo-referenced data sources (Shapefile, geographic database as PostGIS or SpatiaLite, GeoTIFF, etc.).

Yago is a modern and light software that can also run on smartphones and tablets, developed using the Google framework Angular 2 and libraries for the development of mobile-friendly Leaflet interactive maps. It allows users and visitors to create their own maps and “surf” the resources localized in the project.


Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing and reducing the risks of disaster. It aims to reduce socio-economic vulnerabilities to disaster as well as dealing with the environmental and other hazards that trigger them. Here it has been strongly influenced by the mass of research on vulnerability that has appeared in print since the mid-1970s.[1] It is the responsibility of development and relief agencies alike. It should be an integral part of the way such organizations do their work, not an add-on or one-off action. DRR is very wide-ranging: Its scope is much broader and deeper than conventional emergency management. There is potential for DRR initiatives in just about every sector of development and humanitarian work.
The most commonly cited definition of DRR is one used by UN agencies such as UNISDR, also known as the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and UNDP: “The conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development.”[2]’

Technology such as GIS offers the possibility of visual analysis and allows us to see political boundaries, population trends, and socioeconomic differences. It also offers us the ability to acquire and verify facts.”
She also pointed out that by “using GIS technology we can analyze and see where natural disasters have previously occurred and how they have impacted the landscape. We can also try to predict where a natural disaster is most likely to occur.” By understanding where disasters happen, the international community can develop new and more efficient methods to reduce future disaster risks.
“Technologies, like GIS, are important tools for understanding and supporting disaster resilient communities. Whether you’re a city planner, development practitioner humanitarian responder, or crisis-mapper, information for decision-making is now at our fingertips to reduce risks and build disaster resilience.”
“Society now has the capability to generate massive amounts of information. We need to be able to synthesize and analyze this information and turn it into targeted policies and actions.”

Technical issues

In 2013 in Haiti, Gnucoop supported COOPI on the development of a webGIS platform, namely SIRV-TAB, to help the municipality of Tabarre (in Port-au-Prince) and the Le Centre National de l’Information Géo-Spatiale (CNIGS) in locating resources, identifying critical issues, designing urban plans and understanding local vulnerabilities in order to increase population preparedness towards natural disasters and help managing crisis. The platform has been developed based on OpenGeo suite (GeoServer- OpenLayers and GeoExt) and it is available at

In the new phase of this partnership we’ll use only a single part of OpenGeo suite, in its latest version: the Geoserver. The Geoserver is the service used for geospatial data sharing, which implements WMS and WFS standards and it is able to use the most common geo-referenced data sources (Shapefile, geographic database as PostGIS or SpatiaLite, GeoTIFF, etc.).
In the new system the Sirvtab will be replaced by a more modern and lighter software that can also run on smartphones and tablets, developed using the Google framework Angular 2 Google and libraries for the development of mobile-friendly Leaflet interactive maps.


The software will be mainly divided into two sections:

Backend A simple and complete control panel that will allow administrators to:
manage users and permissions,

  • upload geographic data in various formats (shapefiles geojson and GeoTIFF)
  • manage metadata associated with geographic data,
  • manage the library of documents and images,
  • publish notices, news and updates visible to users of the platform.

Frontend The heart of the software that will allows users and visitors to create their own maps and “surf” the resources localized in the project. The main functions of the frontend will be:

  • Create map
  • Insert maps from OpenStreetMap and Google Map /BING
  • Measure distances / Areas
  • Create elevation profile
  • Create cartograms and other geo-statistical maps
  • Creating a personal profile
  • Save and archive on server your own maps that can be reused later (this a function only  for registered users)
  • Export maps in different formats (JPEG, PNG, PDF)

View your maps on the main navigation applications (Google Maps, iOS maps, Google Earth) (available from smartphones and tablets).

The source code will be released under a free (as in speech not free as in beer) software license and will be available probably through a github repository, to trace changes and developments over time!

Our software is available here

Our Senior developer is in Lima for the first training section to CENEPRED, follow the mission on our social channels!

*COOPI-Cooperazione Internazionale worked with civil society organizations, local authorities, and the private sector to strengthen risk management in marginalized informal communities of Rímac District in Lima. The program disseminated risk-management tools among government authorities with decision-making capacity; upgraded hazard-prone infrastructure; strengthened capacities of community groups, including women’s associations; provided practical training; and developed a geographical information system database to identify and help address existing vulnerabilities. (USAID LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN – DISASTER RISK REDUCTION FACT SHEET #1, FISCAL YEAR (FY) 2015)

Pictures by COOPI-Cooperazione Internazionale Thank you!

Information Management for Emergency response

April 5th, 2017 Posted by Emergency, GIS, ICT4D, M&E, MHealth, software development 0 comments on “Information Management for Emergency response”

Technology itself does not mean progress,

progress is our ability to use technology to make a difference

(Luca De Biase)

When:  Wednesday, 12 April 2017, 9 a.m. (CET)
Where: Piazza della Scienza, 4, Università degli Studi di MIlano – Bicocca
              Edificio U4, aula 2034
Gnucoop Soc. Coop. and Stand by Task Force (SBTF) are organizing an event about the use of digital tools to support information management during natural disasters and humanitarian crisis.

When a disaster or humanitarian emergency strikes, many organisations (public agencies, humanitarian responders, governmental and non governmental organisations) activate and try to provide their support. In these contexts, it’s very important to have access to and rely on trustworthy information. If used sensibly, social networks and digital tools have the potential to provide important pieces of information that were not accessible only up to few years ago.

Therefore, the event has two main objectives:

  • to sensitize civil society organizations, civil protection organisations, public institutions, university students and volunteers on the sensible use of digital tools such as social networks, digital images, web news, etc…, to help responding to humanitarian crisis,
  • to involve new ‘digital’ volunteers who could provide additional support in responding to emergencies or humanitarian crisis and become active members of the SBTF.

The program will be the following:

  • Technology and Information Sharing: ICT4D project milestones
  • Gnucoop tools and case studies: data collection & GIS and Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Information for Disaster Response: SBTF Case, Studies, Example of Deployments

We are very glad to have as our guests Mercedes Aguerre, COOPI drr advisor, for a an introduction on Disaster Risk Reduction and  Angela Oduor Lungati, Director of Community Engagement, Ushahidi to present this very successful platform.

For more information

To confirm your participation