November 13, 2015
Heidi Johnson

Spatial Development International, LLC (SpatialDev), announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Grant McKenzie, Ph.D., Chief Data Scientist, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “A social media data-driven platform for informed data collection”.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr. McKenzie’s project is one of more than 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 15 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Dr. McKenzie and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in March 2016.

Using geosocial data mining techniques, geostatistical point-pattern analysis, and spatial regression models, this work aims to determine the spatial distribution and regional densities of financial touch point (FTP) locations in countries in which little to no on-the-ground data collection has been completed. This will involve the development of a low cost, robust data collection application designed to intelligently inform data collectors based on demographic and socio-economic analysis and FTP prediction models. Rather than simply provide a mobile device which allows for GPS point location recording, this proposed application aims to intelligently communicate with data collectors, allowing them to view what data has previously been recorded by other collectors, what information is available via crowd-sourced and social media-generated means, and which areas are in need of further exploration. In short, this tool will drastically increase the efficiency of data collection efforts, significantly reducing redundancy, time, and cost.

Dr. McKenzie is a spatial data scientist specializing in integrating the results of cutting edge research with production level applications. He has significant experience in geospatial technologies and research methods including data mining and machine learning techniques. He has recently been pushing the envelope with geosemantic technologies, geosocial data signatures and credibility in spatial data.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1160 projects in more than 60 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

Spatial Development International is a Seattle-based custom software solution development company. SpatialDev uses mapping technology in support of sustainable social and economic development around the world. We serve the federal government, local municipalities, commercial for-profit companies, donor and aid organizations, and international NGOs to enhance results with improved location context and visibility.

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