Sunday, 12 August 2007

Teflon rules!

Friday two weeks back was the day I've been waiting for - the day the Teflon Principle seemed to actually kick in.

John and I were invited to join Byron from RCMRD ( in a trip to meet the staff from the Geomatics Unit at the Jomo Kenyatta University for Agriculture and Technology ( Professor Gacahri out there is one of the movers in the KNSDI, and had responded to Byron's suggestion that some of the staff out there be given a walk-through on what, in practice, participating in operational SDI could mean to them.

The first surprise was thelab facilities. Remember, I've been in East Africa since the times when a simple PC cost a lecturer's annual salary, a single diskette cost 10 dollars, and too many undergraduate's use of GIS was limited to what they could read about in text books. Here were 30-odd PCs, a functioning LAN and good internet connectivity. My, how things change. And not a bad start at all.. no server, though.

During discussions two interesting things emereged: the first being that, when they'd had the Geonetwork toolkit described to them, the JKUAT staff immediately saw its usefulness to teh school as a potential publisher and provider of geospetial information (as well as the - to me - more obvious attraction of being able to find stuff). The second, and the one that always makes John happiest, is when they twigged that establishing and managing a geospatial would not only streamline their data provision to the students but would open up the possibility for lateral integration of data across studies, rather than just vertically within them. John's alway happiest when this data cohesion aspact emerges spontaneously.

So, the followup is that somewhere towards end of August John and Byron and I will be back out to JKUAT to do the full-blown hands-on training with the Geomatic facluty, and then two weeks after that to do another with the final-year students, though for that one I'll push that it should be the faculty that do it, with John and other's back-stopping them. Like I say, we have to maintain the Teflon Principle, and the idea of a centre of excellence emerging at a school that's already leading the effort for geospatial awareness in the region, achieveing it without any massive financial outlay, and doing it collaboratively with the RCMRD and their training services seems like a marriage made in heaven.

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