The comprehensive exercise of assessing the needs with users of geospatial information for environmental decision-making in Peru, Colombia and Brazil as well as the follow-up meetings with decision-makers of key institutions generated more than 50 service ideas. A service includes data, products, tools, platforms and capacity building that tackle an environmental problem and aims at preventing disasters, such as flood or drought.

Before making decisions on which services to develop, and before starting to design the services with our partner organizations, the SERVIR-Amazonia Program Management Unit needed to understand and evaluate each service idea, categorize them into logical units and prioritize them.

David Saah, from the Spatial Informatics Group (SIG) and professor at the University of San Francisco, guided us through the exercise during the first week of January 2020.

The participation of NASA’s Africa Flores (Regional science coordination lead for SERVIR-Amazonia) and Francisco Delgado (Leader for geospatial information technologies for SERVIR Global) and members of the Hub partners CIAT, SIG, ACCA and IMAFLORA assured rich discussions and the inclusion of multiple perspectives.

Main findings

The workshop revealed that 28 service ideas have a high impact potential. Participants also found that the needs expressed during the assessments do match our domain expertise at SERVIR-Amazonia and that we can tap into some of the already existing service developments of SERVIR Global. However, it became also clear that we still need to refine some ideas and better map the service delivery networks. It was also apparent that gender and IP issues have not yet been sufficiently identified for most service ideas, and that we need to deepen the analysis with our contacts and experts. Finally, we noticed that we would need to raise additional funds if we wanted to develop solutions for specific needs that are not in our current funding range.

Prioritization steps

1. Evaluation of 51 needs

Using 10 criteria (see table below) we evaluated each idea and criteria as Low, Medium or High based on the information available at the moment of the exercise.

Evaluation Criteria Definition
Domain Expertise Do we have the technical expertise at the Hub to develop the service?
User Engagement Do we have the partners and user networks clearly identified?
Regional Need Is there demand across more than one target country?
Gender Did the service idea include a as a gender component?
Indigenous Did the service idea include an IP component?
Impact Is there a partner / champion for the co-development of the service? Is the service going to change things on the ground? Can we tell a compelling story?
Sustainability Do the partners have the motivation and capacity to maintain the service after the project ends?
Technical Fit Does the service match with technology that is available within the SERVIR Hub(s)?
Leveraging What is the potential to leverage human and financial resources for the project?
Earmark Does this idea fit within the USAID earmarks?
2. Categorization into Modules and Components

We clustered the ideas into modules, defined as thematic categories within the context of its technology environment, and into components, defined as subcategories of a module. Below, you can see an example of the results of the exercise for the Fire module.

3. Identification of priority components

Priority will be given to components with the biggest potential for impact and with the most feasible technology environment (cost, capacity, complexity). The illustration below shows in order of priority the 5 modules (each with the number of service ideas) and components.

Next steps have been organized in our project management tool by module and for each priority components, with activities, roles, responsibilities and timelines. Stakeholder mapping exercises and virtual or face-to-face meetings are being scheduled to confirm the service ideas and start discussions on technological environments. Regional workshops by priority component will then allow to define the parameters of the technology environment and the selection of specific service co-developments.

Authors of this blog

David Saah

David Saah

Associate Professor & Director of Geospatial Analysis Lab, Department of Environmental Science, University of San Francisco

Simone Staiger

Simone Staiger

Coordinator, Communications, Monitoring&Evaluation&Learning, Knowledge Management, SERVIR-Amazonia