Mercy Corps

A visit to Mercy Corps

A couple of months back, we wrote about the new web application that we developed in partnership with Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps alleviates suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Please visit their website for more information.
We configured a Performance Atlas for Mercy Corps that allows for:

  • Review, monitoring, and assessment of key performance indicators,
  • Field mission planning support,
  • Integration and assessment of field-collected data, and,
  • Collaborative, visual communication among remote project partners and stakeholders.

bryce_workshopLast week, Bryce Gartrell, our founder and driving force, paid a visit to the beautiful Mercy Corps Headquarters, here in Portland, Oregon. He was invited to come and introduce the application during a brown-bag session. Most of the participants in the session were employees of Mercy Corps who had not yet seen the application which was developed for one of the many worldwide missions that Mercy Corps manages every year (they operate in over 40 nations!). There are many people within the organization that were not aware of the work that we had done.

The session was a fun opportunity to share our work. Bryce spent some time showing off the application and its tools, and then turned to some question-and-answer time. One question that came up was one we hear frequently:

“What is the difference between this and Google Earth?”

While both are interactive maps that allow a user to zoom in and out, measure distances, and, to a limited extent, with Google, add their own data. The difference lies in the customization. With the application that we customized for Mercy Corps, we were able to:

  • add higher-resolution, cloudless base maps than the satellite imagery available on Google Earth.
  • By adding a Javascript “widget” to our application, we were also able to add a storytelling component to the map, which, when combined with the visual locational data, makes for a powerful story.
  • Finally, our application – with a bit more customization – is capable of analytical processes; something that can come in handy to a worldwide organization such as Mercy Corps.

While our application certainly has more initial costs associated with it than Google Earth does, we feel strongly that it can payoff in the long-run through a more efficient and effective delivery of services, less staff time to enter and maintain data (which equates to more time spent doing the work they feel passionate about; helping people), and improved communication with donors.

We are privileged to be working with Mercy Corps and look forward to future projects!

Increasing Location Intelligence for Mercy Corps

Our team has recently undertaken a rewarding effort to help Mercy Corps improve their location intelligence capabilities for better program monitoring, performance assessment, and situational awareness in areas around the globe where the non-governmental aid organization conducts disaster relief and economic development programs.
In their own words:

“Mercy Corps partners with creative thinkers from the private and public sectors to develop social innovations that transform lives. New technology, business models and creative partnerships provide transformational opportunities for overcoming poverty and despair.”

Our team’s partnership with Mercy Corps has involved implementing a Performance Atlas visualization and interactive mapping system that allows for:

  • Review, monitoring, and assessment of key performance indicators
  • Field mission planning support
  • Integration and assessment of field-collected data
  • Collaborative, visual communication among remote project partners and stakeholders.

We are now collaborating with Mercy Corps and members of the Barr and Kellogg Foundation to determine how the Location Intelligence system used for a pilot project in Haiti may be further extended and applied to other programs across the globe.  This is in support of Mercy Corp’s mission to leverage [a] robust global program platform to identify breakthrough ideas, test them in the field, and scale them broadly.”