Grand Challenges Explorations Grant Enables Further Reveal Development

Grand Challenges Explorations Grant Enables Further Reveal Development

By Anabelle Nuelle on March 12, 2021 in COVID-19, GIS, News

We are thrilled to announce Akros has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grants support impactful innovations striving to remedy critical global health and development problems. With this grant, Akros will incorporate into Reveal the ability to integrate data from human movement models. Reveal is a web-based mapping platform which uses spatial intelligence to ensure all receive life-saving interventions. With the ability to integrate human movement models with Reveal, decision makers and field teams will be better able to predict where people will be at different times of the day and seasons to ensure no one is missed with lifesaving resources. 

The existing Reveal Platform, improves health campaign coverage by utilizing spatial intelligence and context-appropriate technology. Presently, Reveal maps communities at the household level and offers intervention teams a streamlined interface to plan, implement, track and monitor campaign coverage. Relative to traditional approaches in which local health teams aggregate population data by hand and process it in hard copy, Reveal’s user-centered technology offers a more accurate population count and implementation system—designed to include even the most remote of households.

Delivering health campaigns at high coverage rates can be challenging—particularly in places where frequent movement is common. Permanent relocation may swell or shrink a population, influencing critical resource distribution. Seasonal migration may redistribute a population for months at a time. Daily or weekly movements may make certain individuals more likely to be left out of a campaign. In these situations, health workers may arrive at a household to deliver interventions, but instead find the family has shifted, for even just a few months depending on fishing or farming needs. Take for instance, Nchelenge District in Northern Zambia. 

Located on Lake Mweru, the residents of Nchelenge are predominantly fishermen and farmers. The seasonal and migratory nature of these industries regularly changes what percent of its inhabitants are present during a given time of year. Most residents are located along the lakeside and roadways, but many move inland seasonally, relocating to areas accessible only by motorbike or on foot. In understanding these movements, field teams can identify what structures will or will not be occupied during the critical rainy season, allocating resources and planning interventions accordingly. Similarly, knowing that Nchelenge’s lakeside fishing population is most likely to be gone fishing in the mornings, intervention teams can plan interventions along the lakeside in the afternoons, better reaching the target population. 

The opportunity at hand allows spatial intelligence and Reveal to further refine micro-planning processes and ensure resources are delivered to those who need them—including those who are often on the move. With the GCE support, Akros will work with researchers at Johns Hopkins University to remedy this by building a model capable of capturing population dynamics. Data from this model will be uploaded into the Reveal tool allowing the power of spatially explicit population movement models to inform planning and campaign execution. 

Already, Akros and Johns Hopkins University have begun the work to create this model using published human movement patterns informed by mobile phone and survey data. Earlier this month, Akros and Johns Hopkins have also consolidated their vision and project through an innovation workshop hosted by the foundation and World Food Program (WFP). Once tested, Reveal will be enhanced to capture the outputs of the model with a time-lapse visualization within the Reveal planning interface. Notification functions will also be built to remind health workers where they may find people depending on the time of day. 

These implementations will enhance planning at all levels and serve the teams responsible for ensuring no person is excluded from life-saving, public health campaigns. These advancements will offer micro-planning stronger data to support resource prediction and refined distribution, and aid in identifying the people most at risk of being missed. Through this functionality, intervention efficiency will be heightened and coverage maximized by enabling logistics managers and planners with dynamic insights and monitoring tools. 

With the support of the GCE grant, Akros will continue working to address the biggest questions related to bringing health resources to the last mile: “how much,” “where,” and “when.”