Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has partnered with the Geographic Information System (GIS) for the 2018 edition of the GIS Day.
The event held on Thursday 14th November provided an opportunity for Kenyans to realize the importance and effectiveness of GIS.
According to the event organizers Geographic Information System (GIS) has been vital for better decision-making but its uptake on spatial planning has been slow especially in Kenyan counties.
While the country produces over 200 GIS graduates annually, only 4 counties have taken up some of these experts despite the use of GIS being crucial in the day-to-day activities of the counties.
The event dubbed Discovering the World through GIS was organized by students and faculty from Geomatic Engineering and Geospatial Information System (GEGIS) Department with the aim of bringing academia and industry to explore, share and learn about the applications of GIS to manage problems that affect the environment and community.
The Keynote Speaker for the day was the Managing Director, Dalberg Research, Dr. Jasper Grosskurth.
In his address, Dr. Grosskurth noted that the day marks the celebration of GIS software and unites the geospatial community in a global movement of collaboration, sharing, and education while he was giving a keynote address on GIS in Commercial Research.
Additionally, he informed the gathering that GIS application is an interesting, broad and growing field with great potential to do well to humanity and urged the students present to expand their conception of GIS data.
He added that they should share their experiences for GIS application and enrich their understanding of what it takes to generate GIS-based insight for commercial research.
In as much as gains have been made in the use of GIS and the geospatial community, both academia and industry need to take the opportunity of this new wave to foster economic growth in the country.
The JKUAT Vice-Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi was represented by the Principal Karen Campus of JKUAT Prof Jackson Kwanza who read her speech.
While acknowledging that GIS application will be key in the attainment of the Governments four pillars of development, Prof. Ngumi urged academia and industry to scale up GIS research to enhance decision-making and build more capacity for the generation, use and consumption of GIS data.
She added that the university is looking forward to a stronger collaboration and to encouraging everyone to participate actively in every dimension of the day as they look to a future where GIS will be integrated in all spheres of life and governance.
George Kamau from the Council of Governors (COG) informed the students and experts at the event that the COG had conducted a GIS needs assessment in relation to spatial planning in Kenya by assessing GIS resources.
The assessment which involved both academia and industry players came up with recommendations that stipulated the importance of capacity building for successful adoption of GIS in the counties and that counties must allocate resources to hire and support continuous training of GIS professionals.
“There is need to establish a system through which national institutions can collaborate with counties for data standardization and sharing, as well as knowledge transfer, for GIS application to be effective,” said Kamau.
The low uptake of GIS in counties is mainly attributed to lack of a clear policy to guide GIS application. To curb this and enhance government-academia-industry collaboration, COG formed a working group including JKUATs GEGIS Department to develop the County GIS guidelines emanating from the GIS needs assessment.