GICHD Unearths Community Progress on Reducing Landmine Contamination
Global growth, data improvement, visual progress and impact
"In 1999, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) developed the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). This is software used in over 40 countries to capture data on areas, people, and resources affected so we can make good decisions and set priorities," says Elisabeth Vinek, information management support coordinator and project manager of the Mine Action Intelligence Tool (MINT). "Over 60 countries are still contaminated by mines, cluster munitions, and explosive remnants of war.
"IMSMA is not a global repository. Each country or program owns the data it puts in. It's not an analytics tool, and it doesn't easily allow for creating reports and visualizing data. There were complaints from those who contribute data but get very little back, like a report, map, or statistic. This led us to look at how we could make data more accessible and usable.
“We needed a tool that would allow us to easily access, analyze, and visualize crucial pieces of information. When we looked at different products, I was the tester to see how intuitive the tool was, how long it took to understand it, set it up, create my first dashboard. With some tools, it was difficult to find even basic information on how to install, set up, and move from raw data to an end product. TIBCO Jaspersoft® was really different. The domain designer in TIBCO JasperReports® Server, which MINT is based on, is a really easy, intuitive interface, but still offers the flexibility to write a complex query, paste it in, and use the results. We also use TIBCO Jaspersoft® Studio for more complex reports.
"It's an advantage to the entire community for an organization to provide a centralized analytics tool, as opposed to one person taking initiative, developing something, but then leaving with the solution left hanging and no one to implement it further and support it.
Ideal Pricing, Broad Access, Easy Sharing, Data Improvement
"We have limited budget, so we had to make a value-for-money analysis. When we got in touch with TIBCO they understood we were a not for profit, which allowed our staying within budget.
"Multi-tenancy, pricing per installation, and unlimited users were very important to us. We have one central installation. Each organization has its own administrator(s), and they manage users. Once you have your dashboard and decide who should have access, it's just a matter of providing those people with credentials. The technological barrier to sharing data is much lower, and that's allowed external partners who don't have access to the entire IMSMA database to see certain indicators on dashboards, targeted charts, and reports that they're interested in. It's so easy to share.
"A really important factor is data transparency and data quality. One program developed a report for highlighting potential data quality issues. The objective for reviewers is to "empty" the report by correcting all issues. It's a great visualization of data quality and motivates a focus on making sure data is accurate and reliable.
Visual Progress, Impact, and Goal-Setting
"We conduct assessments of technical aspects, the organization, processes, resources, and data. We have indicators and scores for each category, and based on them, we make recommendations and develop plans with our partners. Two years later when we reassess, we can visualize progress, the impact of our work, and where we want to head.
Global Growth, Pride in Knowledge
"MINT started with two pilots and grew, actually significantly last year when many more organizations joined, and as we conduct training courses, more want to join. We were doing an assessment in Tajikistan and asking partners how they track activities, what reports and data they receive from their national mine action center. A partner looked at me and said, ‘Well, we look at MINT dashboards weekly, and that's basically where we get the information.’ It was really nice to hear that it works for them.
"In Vietnam we trained two people who were really excellent students and immediately created their own dashboards for their own data using MINT. Then last year, they trained more people. It's a good example of this international pride in knowledge.
"I'm most proud that the tool provides the platform for triggering discussions, posing questions, and making data quality transparent. We'll continue to build links between MINT/Jaspersoft, IMSMA, and other tools. There is still a lot of work to do in mine action, and data analysis is key to getting the job done effectively and efficiently."