GIS at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

By Joe Francica

Using GIS to target Grantees and other uses
Recently, I have been communicating with Shawn Boeser, GIS analyst and researcher for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.As Shawn states, "I definitely use GIS for targeting grantees and also for basic program planning and evaluation." This, to me, is using GIS for target marketing in reverse.Shawn's use of GIS at the foundation is actively engaged in looking for a "worthy cause;" money away.What a great job!

As you may know, the foundation is very active in funding global health initiatives such as in HIV prevention and vaccination for other infectious diseases.Perhaps you can see the abundance of uses for which the Gates Foundation could deploy GIS technology in public health alone.

However, the foundation has used GIS more recently to study the population of urban and rural areas that demographically fall below the poverty line. The American Library Association (ALA) commissioned this particular study. The ALA was concerned that the criteria used to determine the service areas for public libraries was inadequate."Working with several partners and utilizing geographical information systems (GIS) software, the ALA designed a study that would inscribe a circle around a library location and extract population and poverty figures for all of the people within that circle." It was important to understand the classification of the library based on its location and demographic composition.The Gates Foundation's U. S.Library Program assigns to each library an "urban area" status based in U.S.Census Bureau information.From these data, an appropriate service area can be inscribed or reclassified, and a level of funding for a grant program for each library can be ascertained.

I thought this was a unique use of GIS technology and the Gates Foundation should be commended.For those wishing to read about the entire study and their methodology, please click HERE.

Published Thursday, August 29th, 2002

Written by Joe Francica

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