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Susan Kistler on Mapping Tools

I’m Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director, and contributor for each Saturday’s aea365 post. This week I’m writing on Thursday and queuing it up for Saturday, anticipating a couple of busy days ahead. I also serve as a houseparent at a small Boarding school on the south coast of Massachusetts, known as “the School by the Sea.” We’re right on the water and the school’s assets include a 92 foot schooner and a slew of other boats. It’s looking like we’re in the predicated path of hurricane Irene and that means the disaster preparedness plan goes into action and we’re looking at two days of hauling boats and moving the contents of labs and classrooms and homes to higher ground.

Lesson Learned: I’m fascinated by major storms and watching the radar and predictive models that strive to anticipate their path. I’ve written before about how thinking evaluatively is a way of life, and storm tracking and response brings that to the fore. Rather than succumb to the hype “the storm of the century is coming your way,” evaluative thinking based on data and experience from previous events allows us to take action, respond to changing conditions, and stay safe.

As I was keeping an eye on the storm (it is soon to pass over my mother’s house in the Bahamas), I was reminded of other mapping resources of use to evaluators.

Rad Resource – MapAction Field Guide to Humanitarian Mapping: This past month, MapAction released a free (thanks to a Dulverton Trust grant) updated version of this guide. While the context is guidance for humanitarian organizations, and thus would be particularly useful for those working in international M&E, its articulate explanations of the fundamentals of GIS, using google earth for mapping, and data sources would be valuable to anyone considering a mapping project, including those undertaking community mapping endeavors.

Rad Resource – Google Earth and Mapping Resources: This curation tree provides links to a range of google earth and mapping resources. To make the most of it:

  • Hot Tip: Note that the software is flash-based and thus doesn’t work on iPad
  • Hot Tip: Drag the ‘curated by’ box down and to the left to get it out of the way
  • Hot Tip: Click on any of the nodes (the outer circles) to view the referenced site and, once on the site, you can use the “Next” box in the upper right to scroll through all of the recommended sites without returning to the curation tree

Rad Resource – Intrdouction to GIS and Spacial Analysis in Evaluation Workshop: Arlene Hopkins and Stephen Maack will be offering a mapping workshop specifically for evaluators at AEA’s 2011 annual conference this November in Anaheim.

The above opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.

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