Today I’m at the Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale University to talk about using open source tools to map public health data. The annual conference brings together students and professionals to discuss advances in technology and tools for global health and international development. I’m excited to hear what others are working on and to share examples on how MapBox’s tools can be used to map global health data.

Specifically, I will walk through how to make this map.

Hexagon gridded density map of Kenya’s health facilities

How to make the map

A map like this can be published using open source tools that are freely available: QuantumGIS and TileMill. I’ll talk about how the greater availability and openness of organizations and governments make it easier to access key datasets that can then be used to gain a better understanding topics and regions. For this map, I simply downloaded the master health facility list made available by the Kenya Open Data project. I can browse and manipulate the data using QuantumGIS. Here I’ve used the grid function to create an arbitrary grid and then counted the number of facilities within each grid polygon. Using a grid for density allows for the quick aggregation of data along more understandable geographies than an administrative area.

I then designed a custom map in just a few clicks and lines of code. TileMill allows me to create custom classes for defining a scale and determine the best visualization of the data to create a fully interactive map. I can then export the map to publish it on the web or use on a mobile device. Using MapBox Hosting, I can publish to the web and leverage the API and embed functionality to post the map here.

I’ll be presenting in Session L31: Policy & Research Tools at 1:15 pm. Here are the slides for my idea pitch: