FROM THE FIELD
Natural Resources and Peacebuilding
Mobile Maps Help Haitians Locate Government Offices
In the Republic of Haiti, until last month, there was no way to search online to find the location of government offices. In fact, many countries, especially fragile states like Haiti, have long faced challenges in the transparency of their basic government administrative functions. Today’s era of new mobile technology permits growing connection of citizens to web and communication networks through mobile technologies. Accordingly, the Haitian government has committed to expanding access through e-governance technologies to reinforce transparency, effective communications, and improved social service delivery to the Haitian population.
For the past two years, the Haiti Research and Policy Program at the Earth Institute and the Government of Haiti’s Office of E-Governance have collaborated to strengthen governance accountability and strategic sustainable development planning through cost-effective improvements to information systems and data platforms. The first national registry of every government office in the nation is one first set of results of this collaboration. The main goal of the registry map is to improve awareness, distribution and delivery of government services.
The registry takes the form of an online and mobile-enabled interactive map, maintained by the Office of e-Governance, and enables the general population to accurately locate and contact government offices. It is a critical first step in identifying, communicating, and systematizing fundamental government functions. For example, citizens can now search and locate the office that provides new voter registration cards – an important element in ensuring voter registration access in the upcoming elections. Moreover, non-profit organizations and civil society groups can now easily coordinate with local or regional health and education ministries on relevant location-based projects. The registry also maps regional judicial offices and offices for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, like the tax office.
To accomplish this, the Office of e-Governance, under the leadership of the coordinator Jean Marie Altema, with the technical support of the Earth Institute, trained 50 enumerators and 10 departmental supervisors to conduct data collection of more than 900 government offices across the country.
Data was collected on each government office including geo-location, building photograph, ministry affiliation and sub-ministry agency title, address, and main contact number. Information on the office’s access to electricity sources and Internet was also collected.
This new government office registry map is Haiti’s e-Governance office’s first initiative to create systematic, national scale geo-referenced registries of government services and facilities. In 2011, the e-Governance office launched an integrated technology platform for government operations by providing a uniform email system, video-conferencing mechanism for ministries, and Internet connections in high schools.
In addition to the online and mobile enabled map, hard copies of large-format maps of each ministry and agency were produced by the Earth Institute’s Center for International Earth Sciences Information Network. These printed maps were provided to each ministry and are intended to support national planning and the implementation of the Plan Stratégique de Développement d’Haïti (The National Strategic Development Plan of Haiti. The plan calls for a country-wide inventory of facilities, infrastructure, equipment and services. It mandates the undertaking of a national inventory of 77 different types of facilities and infrastructure across the territory.
The e-Governance office will continue to work with the support of the Earth Institute to help design and implement cost-effective tools for data-driven strategic investment decisions and policy-making and to strengthen government systems in Haiti.
The Earth Institute has been active in Haiti since 2006, with a commitment to designing, advising and demonstrating science-based methods to achieve sustainable development at the national and local scale. Our research, analysis, and advising work focus on the critical need for enhanced science-based, regional and national scale data collection and monitoring systems.
Visit the Haiti Research and Policy Program website for more information and join us for CGSD’s Haiti Dialogue Series each Fall and Spring semester.
For more examples of mapping work conducted by the Earth Institute and CIESIN, visit the Haiti GeoPortal at CIESIN.